Taking licenses from dropouts won’t improve education

New Mexico’s legislative session doesn’t begin until Jan. 21, but already a bad law has been proposed.

Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, has pre-filed a bill that could snatch driver’s licenses away from high school dropouts.

If the education system isn’t working for you, Brandt seems to be suggesting to teen non-conformists, the state will do its best to keep you from working — just try to get a job or pursue your dreams if you can’t (legally) drive.

Brandt doesn’t see it that way, of course.

The proposal “sets up an early warning system of those who are at risk of dropping out and provides for immediate intervention …” Brandt said in a press release.

“If the students do not go along with the efforts to help keep them in school, they could lose their driver’s permit or license. That could keep them on track.”

Potential loss of transportation is a proven and time-honored motivator parents have employed with their teenagers for decades. But government cannot substitute for Mom and Dad.

Brandt and his supporters fail to acknowledge that school is not for everybody. Walt Disney, journalist Peter Jennings, computer coder David Karp and actress Cameron Diaz all dropped out of high school before embarking on mega-successful life journeys.

Brandt’s intent, no doubt, is honorable.

“(Senate Bill) 25 is designed to increase graduation rates and decrease the number of dropouts by better preparing students for success in college and in their careers,” he says.

Certainly many people — maybe even most people — benefit from formal education, in both public and private institutions.

But the one-size-fits-all parameters proposed by Brandt will not result in the American Dream he envisions for the rebel outcasts. We’re way more likely to see only an increase in illegal drivers, or, worse, another obstacle to overcome for those whose entrepreneurial spirits cannot be confined to a traditional classroom.

Some of us can’t fit in the boxes comfortable for most. Lawmakers need to understand that before trying to “help” anybody.

Brandt introduced a similar bill last year and it died before it could be put up for vote. Let’s hope this version never gains traction either.

Unsigned editorials are the opinion of the Clovis Media Inc. editorial board, which includes Publisher Ray Sullivan and Editor David Stevens.

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