In North Carolina and 21 other states kids only have to go to school till they’re sixteen years old. But next year Hickory and Newton-Conover Schools will raise the dropout age to eighteen.
That sixteen year old dropout age harkens back to another time when you could easily get a good-paying job in a furniture factory or textile mill without a high school diploma.
“That’s drastically changed. A kid drops out of school at 16 today, with rare exception, there aren’t any satisfactory jobs available,” says Jerry Phillips, a retired businessman in Hickory.