(TRENTON) – Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph R. Caputo, Thomas P. Giblin and Cleoapatra G. Tucker to help prevent students from dropping out and encourage those who have dropped out of school to re-enroll received final legislative approval Monday and now heads to the governor’s desk.
“Young people who drop out of school set themselves back. It is hard enough for college graduates to find good-paying jobs these days, imagine how much tougher it is without a high school diploma,” said Caputo (D-Essex). “We must look at what is causing these kids to drop out and develop strategies that will help keep them in school so that they have better opportunities to get ahead.”
The bill (A-2527) creates the Office of Dropout Prevention and Reengagement of Out-of-School Youth in the state Department of Education. The office would be tasked with developing a statewide strategic plan of action to prevent students from dropping out of school, address the need for the re-enrollment of student dropouts and develop strategies to increase re-enrollment.
The bill also establishes the Student Dropout Prevention Task Force to analyze why students leave school before graduating, recommend best practices for reducing the student dropout rate, and develop strategies to increase the re-enrollment of students who have dropped out of school.
“Many young people live in the present and may not realize that the odds are rarely in their favor when they drop out of school,” said Giblin (D-Essex/Passaic). “It is a much tougher world for those with a limited education. You can spend most of your time trying to catch up to your more educated counterparts. This bill works to protect our young people from such bleak futures.”
“With no structure and too much free time, many young people who drop out school end up getting in trouble,” said Tucker (D-Essex). “This can carry on into adulthood and become a generational problem affecting entire families and communities. Education creates opportunities. We owe it to every child to send them off to the world prepared so they can become productive adults.”
The 17-member task force will consist of the Commissioner of Education or his designee; the Commissioner of the Department of Corrections or his designee; two members of the Senate; two member of the General Assembly; and eleven members appointed by the Governor, who shall include three superintendents of schools, one each from an urban, suburban, and rural school district; two presidents of New Jersey county colleges; two members of the public with demonstrated expertise in issues relating to the work of the task force; two members employed at a high school in an urban school district with a high student drop out rate, one of whom shall be a principal and one of whom shall be a guidance counselor; and two teachers, one of whom will be employed in an urban school district with a high student drop out rate. The task force must issue a final report to the Governor and to the Legislature containing its findings and recommendations, including any recommendations for legislation that it deems appropriate, no later than nine months after the task force organizes.
The bill was approved 72-5-2 by the Assembly on Monday and 34-1 by the Senate in February.