N.J. may require kids to stay in school until 18

The New Jersey Assembly’s education committee has advanced legislation that would require students to remain in school until they’re 18. Under current law, they can leave at 16.

Assemblywoman Bonnie Watson Coleman says teenagers who sign themselves out of school without a diploma don’t have the skills for a productive life.

Opponents of the change, however, say forcing those students to stay in school would increase costs and add to the tax burden.

Coleman said it will save the state money in the long run.

“If you don’t have educated people in our society and if they’re undereducated and have no skills, then you generally end up paying a lot more on their behalf or because of them in the end,” she said Thursday.

Coleman has been trying for years to get lawmakers to approve the idea. She said she hopes President Obama’s call for a similar change in his State of the Union address will help move the New Jersey measure along.

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