Who Had to Go.
State laws defining compulsory school attendance varied widely during the 1950s. Children between the ages of fourteen and sixteen who had legal employment typically were allowed to quit school. In twenty-one states a student could leave only after reaching the eighth grade, and in twelve states only after reaching the sixth or seventh grade. In 1955 the NEA called for mandatory attendance until graduation from high school or age eighteen. But the issue fell under the states' control, so each state had to debate the issue and pass its own law.
Why Drop Out?
A survey in 1950 of students who dropped out before completing high school reported that 36 percent preferred to work; 15 percent needed the money to help at home; 11 percent were not interested in school; and the remainder cited various reasons, such as failure, poor performance, ill health, or dislike of a subject or teacher. A majority of students...
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