We need better dropout prevention for at-risk youth

Special to the Port Orchard Independent

I serve on the Education Committee and am dedicated to improving the quality of education for all students in our state. Last year, the 24-credit graduation requirement passed, which poses a significant problem for our at-risk youth who attend multiple high schools before graduating.

The dropout rate for homeless youth is about 40 percent and the dropout rate for foster youth is about 47 percent. When a child attends multiple high schools, they will often not meet the local school requirements even though they have met the state requirement.

For example, if a child has met their state physical education (PE) requirements and transfers to South Kitsap High School, they will have to take an additional semester of swim in order to graduate because South Kitsap has a local requirement to take a semester of swim classes.

This local requirement is a barrier that many school officials are concerned will increase the dropout rates for at-risk youth now that they must meet 24 credits to graduate. I worked with local teachers to draft House Bill 1855 to waive the local school requirements for at-risk youth and prevent these high dropout rates. This bill has bipartisan support, as I am working hard across the aisle for real solutions to some of the problems we have in our state.

As a former foster youth and a foster mother, I understand the challenges at-risk youth face and am devoted to achieving quality education for all children in our state.

Please feel free to contact my office anytime – my job as your state representative is to serve you. If you are interested in coming to Olympia, give me a call and we can set up a time to chat. I'd love to know what you think about this and other issues that affect you.

State Representative Michelle Caldier, 26th Legislative District
122H Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 956-7562 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000