RALEIGH (AP) -- North Carolina's major gubernatorial candidates are making reduction of the state's dropout rate a part of their campaign. Their commitment comes after the Department of Public Instruction revealed last year that barely two-thirds of the roughly 100,000 students who started ninth grade four years earlier had graduated from high school. The leading Democratic candidates, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and State Treasurer Richard Moore, have released higher education scholarships plans. Several candidates say vocational and technical education should be re-embraced in high school, where it can be carried over to community colleges. Former Supreme Court justice and Republican candidate Bob Orr says dropout problems will fester until there's an overhaul of the state education leadership structure in Raleigh. Bill Graham says the compulsory school attendance age also should be raised from age 16 to 18, and truancy laws already on the books should be enforced. (Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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