Over the past decade, state legislatures looking for “easy wins” in the fight to keep students in school have passed compulsory attendance laws that have essentially made dropping out illegal.
Few states, however, have provided schools with the resources they need to enforce these laws. In particular, most communities do not have the capacity to ensure that students who leave a school in their district have re-enrolled in another.
It is not enough to simply say “students cannot drop out.” If we are going to change lives — indeed, if we are going to save lives — we need to give communities the tools they need to know that every child who leaves one of their schools has enrolled and is attending another school.
Then, of course, we need to give school leaders the tools they need to educate students for whom traditional educational models simply are not working. Because simply saying “you cannot leave” may keep more students enrolled in school, but it doesn’t ensure they’ll get the education they need while they are there.