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Target licenses

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By Optic Editorial Board

A Rio Rancho lawmaker wants to change state law so that students who are habitually cutting class could lose their driver’s licenses.

The Albuquerque Journal reported Monday that State Sen. Craig Brandt has already filed a bill in advance of the legislative session that begins Jan. 21.

Brandt told the newspaper he believes it’s time to hold teens who habitually play hookey responsible for their actions, saying, “They hold dear their driver’s license. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Being able to lose that privilege is huge.”

We couldn’t agree more.

Brandt’s proposal makes a lot of sense and deserves support from both Democrats and Republicans. There has been so much discussion about school reform in recent years, but many of those efforts have been focused on holding teachers, schools and districts accountable for how their students are performing on annual state tests.

According to the Journal, Brandt’s proposal would “give school authorities the ability to work with their local Motor Vehicle Division to deny or suspend licenses of students who have a pattern of truancy, poor grades and are at risk of dropping out.”

In other words, it would give students another reason to show up at school and to do their best. And that has been something that has been sorely lacking.

There are currently truancy laws on the books, but those laws enable prosecutors and the courts to go after the parents of truant students. Those parents could be fined up to $500.

The thing we like most about Brandt’s proposal is that it puts the responsibility squarely on the shoulders of the student.
Speaking from experience, we know that teens value their driving privileges. If you threaten to take that away from them, you’ll get their attention and force them to think twice about cutting classes and doing poorly in the classroom.

We feel that this reform has a real shot at working, and we hope it gets better traction than it did during the last legislative session when it stalled in the Judiciary Committee.

Brandt’s proposal deserves serious consideration from lawmakers and the governor.