Rapid City, South Dakota (KOTA) – In 2009, the South Dakota Legislature voted to raise the mandatory school age to 18. This week, lawmakers are looking to reverse this by introducing Senate Bill 65.
In South Dakota, children must attend school regularly until age 18, but Senate Bill 65 will lower the age requirement to 16 if passed.
Rapid City Area School District interim CEO Nicole Swigert believes lowering the age could have long-term negative effects on students.
“I think all brain research shows that the brain is still developing. So making lifelong decisions at such a young age would be very difficult to reconcile later on.” .
Many technical or trade schools in South Dakota require a high school diploma or equivalent GED.
“There are no high-paying jobs for 16-year-olds,” Swigart said. You can pay the bills, get that phone, get that car, pay that insurance, but is it a lifetime wage?If they live alone, pay all the bills, It’s the wages that make it possible to feed a family, but those 16-year-olds don’t see it all.”
According to the South Dakota Department of Labor Regulation, students must be at least 18 to take the GED test, and if younger, have one of the following:
- Confirmation from the school administrator that the child will not finish the class.
- Authorization from Court Officials or Court Orders.
- Confirmation that the child is under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.
- Confirmation that the child is enrolled in Jobcorp.
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