Posted in the Kentucky Forum
#1 Nov 16, 2007
Blinded by Good Intentions
16-17 year old drivers of today have a strong rope tied between their academic lives and their driver’s license: Not just from their families but now to from the government.
The city of Louisville among other cities and states across America, has imposed a new driving law nicknamed the “No pass no drive law.” These laws push teens 16 to 17 years old to meet certain academic requirements in order to receive and maintain their driver’s license. Giving our students an incentive to do better academically is wonderful and can benefit our state, but this law turns a blind eye to groups of 16 and 17 year olds who are living outside the standard line of education that most Americans follow.
One section of this new ordinance for Kentucky labeled KRS 159.051 states that the student may not fail four or more courses in a semester: sounds easy enough not to fail four courses. A second requires that the student may have no more than nine or more absences in one semester: this seems reasonable since the average student goes through a semester with only 2 or 3 absences total. A final requirement states that students may not drop out of high school. Only four out of every one hundred high school students in America will drop out.
You can see that these laws were made with the best of intentions: to keep kids in school, keep them focused, and ultimately support higher education in American society. However there has still been a lack of consideration for a small but significant portion of our population.
Many people plan to get their GED, and need to have jobs at younger ages. Some are required at home to help parents raise their families. These people may not have time for a high school education because of special circumstances in their lives but will still need to drive. In fact most of them will need to drive more than the average students: that have free public transportation available to take them to and from school. Allowing KRS 159.051 to exist in its current state is causing unnecessary restriction on this group of people and is making their lives more difficult than necessary. It causes them to start behind: in a society that is always on the road it is a major set back if you can’t drive.
I feel there are simple and small changes we could make to this new law that will make it beneficial to everyone. An example of a simple change would be to give the legal guardian the right to sign that they do not want the “no pass no drive law” to apply to their minor. With this option available the legal guardian can allow their minor to keep driving as long as they feel it is necessary. This approach puts power into the hands of the guardian who knows the minor more personally.
The beauty of living in America is that if people feel a law is not right, they can change it. KRS 159.051 is a great law that will benefit our future education and school programs. However I hope through reading this you have a greater understanding of how the law works: and may see some new aspects of the law that need our attention.
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