Barry of Inn of the Last Home is not too sympathetic to parents that skipped out on a meeting with school and law enforcement officials regarding the truency of their children:

But the point is that when a child has 10 or more unexcused absences, that’s when inquiries need to be made and actions taken. If the child is legitimately ill, then there shouldn’t be a problem getting the absences excused. If the parent or guardian neglected to follow through with explaining the absence, then it’s their own fault and they have nothing to complain about.

The problem I have is that the whole attendance/truancy issue is a crock. If a kid is skipping school then the parents need to be informed, but I’m not sure the parents should have to defend themselves on this one. As long as the work is getting done, it’s a family matter.

To me, the issue comes down to two things:

  1. Money
  2. Control

How much money a school gets from the government is based in part on attendance. Back east, the “official attendance” was taken at 11:00am. The school would honestly nod and wink at you just as long as you were there at that time. When our school made the state championship in basketball or football, they’d even say “Let’s wish our boys/girls luck on the field this weekend. If anyone is going to have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, we strongly suggest that they have it after lunch. That would leave plenty of time to make it to Capitol City in time for the game. Theoretically.”

Okay, so they weren’t quite that obvious about it, but the message came through loud and clear: be here before lunch.

When I was in junior high, I would have these coughing spells. They’d send me to the nurse right up until 11:30… then they’d send me home. Never, ever before.

The second issue, control, is also a big factor. But as far as the school is concerned, the public school system exerts a lot of control over the lives of children. And they want to keep it that way. That’s one of the reasons that they’ve made homeschooling nearly impossible in some areas (Nevada and I think California), why they oppose vouchers, and why we have compulsory attendance and truancy laws to begin with.

I’m not one to argue that there is some conspiracy to brainwash our young. In most cases, it’s lead by good intentions (though money is a factor, too). They honestly believe that they are trained professionals that ought to be given the reigns to educate the next generation. In some ways they are. But the degree of resistence to alternatives is also built around making themselves indispensable.

Theoretically, they should have no problem with kids coming in on test day and taking care of the studying parts on their own. But even outside financial reasons, the more parents do that, the less essential teachers become. Through truancy laws and compulsory attendance, they have both job security and the mandate to do what they were trained to do.

I’m not trying to knock teachers and school administrators. I am a product of the public school system and my future kids will be too. They’re underpaid and underappreciated. And while they are admirable on an individual level, the establishment they collectively embody has its own agenda.

Category: School

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