If President Obama has his way, this country's dropout rate would disappear.
In last night's State of the Union address, the President called on states to require that all students stay in high school until they graduate or turn eighteen.
Washington is nearly there. We have a state law that requires children between the ages of 8 and 17 attend either a public school, private school or district-approved home school program. Needless to say not every student abides by the law, even though there are penalties in place for those parents who do not make their children go to school.
The President also touched on college tuition rates in the State of the Union address, calling on Congress to stop interest rates on student loans from doubling in July. He also asked that Congress create the funding to double the number of work-study jobs over the next five years to give more young people the chance to work their way through college.
Obama went on to say it is up to each state to do its part, by making higher education a higher priority in their budgets.
In October, Governor Chris Gregoire called for additional cuts to higher education as a means of balancing the state's budget and proposed suspending Washington's work-study program beginning in the fall.
One bill currently being heard in Olympia would direct state lottery money to education and the work-study program.
The President also took colleges and universities to task for consistent increases in tuition. Speaking to those institutions he said, "If you can't stop tuition from going up, the funding you get from taxpayers will go down. Higher education can't be a luxury - it's an economic imperative that every family in America should be able to afford."
Hours before the address, Bill Gates released his annual report on education. In it he said the U.S. needs to do more than just make sure its students graduate from high school. he wants them to graduate "college ready."
It all comes with a price tag. With a cumulative dropout rate of nearly 30-percent, if every student stayed in school Washington would need to create classroom space for nearly 30-thousand students.