Some states have passed laws that require people under 18 to remain in school to avoid losing their licenses. Other states have started considering such laws, which has brought this matter into the media’s attention once more.
The main intent behind the law seems to be the obvious: if a kid knows that he will lose his license, then he will be more inclined to stay in school. This does have a certain appeal. After all, a person who drops out of school will severely reduce their chances of success latter in life and increases the chance that s/he will need support from the state (or end up in jail). Since kids are much better at understanding immediately effects (loss of license) than long term consequences, then it would seem reasonable to use this as a stick to keep kids in school.
One point of concern is that some kids leave school in order to help their families out financially. If such kids are denied their licenses, then this will make things even harder for them. As such, it is worth considering the negative consequences to this approach to “motivating” students.
A second point of concern is that this approach fails to address the underlying reasons why kids drop out of school. It would seem more reasonable to focus efforts on addressing these factors rather than adding a punitive measure. After all, a kid who stays in school just to keep her license is most likely not going to be a motivated student and might very well simply wait out her time.
A third point of concern is that there seems to be no link between having a driver’s license and being in school. After all, the only educational requirement for having a license is being able to past the written test and driving test. It might be said that a law can link education and the license. This is true, but it seems to be a rather ad hoc linkage. After all, while it does make sense to take away a person’s license for driving drunk or other serious vehicle related offenses, it does not seem reasonable to deny a person the right to drive on the basis of something that has no connection to the act of driving.
It might be argued that a driver’s license is a privilege and not a right. This is, of course, true. But it still seems unreasonable to link a license to a person’s decision to remain in school. This is rather paternalistic and seems to be rather needlessly intrusive on the part of the state. Certainly it is stupid to drop out of school, but taking away a license to drive does not seem to be the proper cure.