New Mo. bill would require educational standards for first time drivers

New Mo. bill would require educational standards for first time drivers

MISSOURI (KFVS) - A Missouri bill would require all people between the age of 15 to 18 wanting a driver's license to meet the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education standards.

DESE would develop educational standards that would include attendance, grade standards and assessment scores that public school students would have to meet in order to be eligible for a drivers license.

DESE would also have to inform the Department of Revenue of the public school students who do not meet the standards.

"When I first heard that, I thought it was a great idea because obviously as a teacher I want to do whatever I can to get kids grades up and I think driving is a privilege that you ought to earn in a number of ways," Charles Harper, Poplar Bluff High School Spanish Teacher, Provisionally Certified Drivers Education Inspector said.

"But, when I read about what DESE would have to come up with standards, and grades, and attendance, and then the schools going to have to communicate with DESE," Harper said. "I'm just not sure everyone will know what they need to know, when they need to know it to make it all work."

Harper thinks there's other ideas that should be implemented first.

"I even wonder about making driver's education a requirement before graduation, or getting stiffer on texting and driving, or increase restricting intermediate driver's license," Harper said. "I think there's a number of things we can do to have a better result."

Another Poplar Bluff teacher said his first reaction was that it's a great idea but it depends on where DESE sets the standards.

"It depends on where they put the bar though, and that's what I was trying to do research on; is it going to be D average, C average, B average, and I looked online and the bill looked vague," Michael Sowatzke Poplar Bluff High School World History Teacher, Provisionally Certified Drivers Education Inspector said.

Sowatzke said he was able research a scenario in another state that had a positive impact in school.

"Wetzel Co, West Virginia implemented it and they said it actually improved grades," Sowatzke said. "So, I guess if it's done right, it could be helpful. But, done right, will be the determining factor."

Some concerns and questions that Sowatzke had were what the affect would be on kids who take medical leave or when kids drop out when they turn 16-years-old.

House Bill 2336 will be addressed on Feb. 22, 2016 at 11 a.m.

Below are the current driver's license requirement's for teenagers in Missouri, Kentucky, and Illinois.

  • In Missouri, teens have to first get a learner’s permit, then intermediate driver’s license, before getting a driver’s license. Formal classroom driver’s education is not required. But, first-time drivers need to have 40 hours of supervised driving.
  • In Kentucky, you have to take a written permit test and take a vision exam to get your learner’s permit. Then, before taking the driving test the driver has to have 60 hours of driving practice and complete a Driver’s Education course.
  • In Illinois, teens have to initially get a learner’s permit. To get that they have to show proof of enrollment in Driver’s Education course, pass a vision test, pass a written DMV test and then get an initial restricted license and then before graduating get a full unrestricted Illinois driver’s license.

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