The minimum wage is a permanent wage for the undereducated, for whom robots and overseas labor have replaced the unskilled work that once paid a living wage ("Not so fast on minimum wage," Feb. 1). Moreover, by permitting students to leave school at age 16 without a high school diploma, as 15 percent of students currently do, the state bears significant responsibility for creating this underclass of workers. Even high school graduates who do not proceed to college or acquire a vocational skill in high school are unprepared for work that is much beyond the level of a minimum wage.

We would serve our students and ourselves better if we would raise the age at which a student can leave school to 18 and require that they must either complete the courses required for college admission or secure a skilled trade as a condition of graduation. Otherwise, they will forever be mired in poor employment and the rest of us will support them and their families with food stamps, Medicaid and subsidized housing because they are unlikely to ever be fully self-supporting.

Anita Heygster, Pasadena

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