After five years of advocacy, supporters of raising Kentucky's dropout age to 18 celebrated Monday as Gov. Steve Beshear signed the bill into law.
Flanked by House and Senate lawmakers—as well as First Lady Jane Beshear—the governor officially signed the law in a ceremony in his conference room. The bill would make raising the dropout age voluntarily for school districts until 55 percent of all districts made the change. Then it would become mandatory statewide. The legislation is a compromise reached by lawmakers in the 2013 General Assembly session.
Jane Beshear says the fact the five year fight on the issue is over is monumental for education in the Commonwealth.
"And I can't say it's a small step, it's a huge step," she said.
State Sen. David Givens, a Greensburg Republican who sponsored the compromise bill, said state leaders' focus turns now to graduation rates.
"The challenge is going to be converting this attendance to the year of 18 years of age, converting it to a high school diploma," he said.
Supporters believe they can reach the 55 percent threshold in two years, making the law mandatory by 2019.