Gov. Deval Patrick last week signed a bill aimed at reducing the school drop-out rate by setting up a commission to look into the problem. The bill (S 2766) was shepherded through the Legislature by Dorchester's state Rep. Marie St. Fleur.
Boston has a 40 percent drop-out rate, according to Lew Finfer, executive director of the Massachusetts Communication Action Network. Dropouts also earn $465,000 less in their lifetime than high school graduates.
The commission, which will be headed by education secretary Paul Reville, will have until May 15 to report its finding and recommendations, including whether the attendance age should rise to 18 from 16. Patrick has expressed support for raising the age.
"They moved up the timeframe" in order to take up the issue in the Legislature sooner, Finfer said. "It sets it up for some real action."
The bill, which mandates the commission hold three hearings across the state, was sponsored by outgoing state Sen. Ed Augustus, a Worcester Democrat.