There is a news article blasting California school officials for threatening parents with the arrest of their child for truancy. Many on the right have a problem with this, and I am not sure I have a problem with enforcing truancy. I think that it should, however, be the parents who face penalties.

Truancy isn’t a new problem that has just come about die to COVID. For years, I have sat and watched as more than 75% of my students are chronically absent. Chronically absent means that a student is not in school more than ten percent of the time. More than a third of my students miss more than half of class time. One in ten of my students miss three quarters or more of school hours. Out of 180 school days, the median number of absent days is 23. If an adult were to miss that much work, they wouldn’t have a job for very long, yet half of my students are gone for the equivalent of a month each school year. 

I have had students whose parents sign them out of school every day, two hours before the end of the school day, so the student can go to an after school job. Some students are late by an hour more to school every morning, and when you ask them why, they will tell you because they wanted to stop to get breakfast with their boyfriend/girlfriend. 

Teachers are held responsible for what their students learn or do not learn. If a teacher’s students are not learning enough, that teacher can lose their job. If enough students fail to learn, the entire administrative staff MUST be terminated by law. 

Taxpayers should be livid, because the courts have ruled that a free education is a constitutional right. That means the school must be funded with taxpayer dollars, even if the students choose not to go. These truants and their parents are robbing the taxpayers blind. 

I think it should look like this:

For students under the age of 15: 

If a student misses more than 5 school days in a quarter, then the parents will be subject to a monetary fine of up to $250, unless they can produce a doctor’s note outlining an illness that prevents the child from coming to school. 

If a student misses more than 10 school days in a semester, then that fine increases to a maximum of $1,000. 

If a student misses more than 30 days in an entire school year, then the parent can be sentenced to up to 30 days in jail and additional fines. 

For students over the age of 15: 

If a student is tardy to school more than 5 times in a semester, then the student loses campus parking privileges.

If a student skips or otherwise misses 15 hours of any single class in a single school year, they will automatically fail the course and their parents would be subject to a fine of not more than $500. 

If a student misses more than 5 school days in a quarter, then the parents will be subject to a monetary fine of up to $250, unless they can produce a doctor’s note outlining an illness that prevents the child from coming to school. 

If a student misses more than 10 days in a school semester, they will be subject to a hearing that will determine whether or not they are defacto dropouts. If they are ruled to be dropouts, the student will be removed from taxpayer funded school and will not be able to re-enroll in school at taxpayer expense. Wanna skip school and waste money? Do it on your own dime.

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TechieDude · October 23, 2020 at 2:09 pm

I'd say if the miss more than a month unexcused, they are done for the year.

The world needs ditch diggers too.

I tought high school faith formation. and in one of the sessions I'd tell them about getting a drain line fixed at my house.

An old mexican dude, and a younger one showed up to dig. Under the watchful eye of the plumbers apprentice. when they got the damaged like cut out, the master plumber showed up. Climbed into the hole, measured for the pipe he'd need, and told his apprentice to cut one. The apprentice hands it to him, he mends the pipe and climbs out.

While they were testing and getting ready to fill it back in, the plumber told me that one needed an HS diploma to be able to apprentice. No diploma? you dig that that kid. That's all he did, every day. Dig.

I told them what I told my kids. They want you to pass. All you have to do is show up. If you do the work, you'll pass. If you study a bit more, you can excel. It ain't hard.

Beats digging.

SiGraybeard · October 23, 2020 at 4:42 pm

While I see your point, and the ones who abuse the system really make everybody else pay, I think that there can be circumstances where there have to be workarounds. The parents that sign their kids out of school need to have a cost associated with getting the kid out for an after school job. $50/day if the kid is going to make Min Wage? That's several times Min Wage – it's more profitable to leave them in school.

The students who come late because of the breakfast with their squeeze likewise need a sting associated with that. In practice, if the parents pay a penalty the kids aren't going to feel it unless the parents pass that on. Getting the penalty to sting the ones responsible is a needle to thread.

The thing that gives me pause about fining the parents for the kids' truancy is that I've met people who said they'd drive the kid to school, watch them go in the front doors and the kid would still skip class and walk out after they left. Their frustration was palpable.

The only thing more they could have done was walk them to their desks and tie them to their chairs. NTTAWWT.

Therefore · October 23, 2020 at 5:23 pm

When "no child left behind" was introduced my wife, a teacher, came home and explained it to me as the union and admin explained it to her.

If to many children failed to advance, then the teachers would all be fired and the state would take over. That NCLB was all about passing children regardless of their competency.

When I looked it seemed to me that it was about making sure that resources are provided to all students.

I've been told by everybody in the education businesses that there is no way to objectively evaluate a teacher. As far as I can tell, this is the only occupation for which there is no objective measurement.

Yet I watch as year after year teacher friends and friends of my wife tell me who in the school system are no qualified to be on the classroom or whom is putting in a sub optimal performance.

My wife spoke of one teacher that had been using the same lesson plans and handouts for the last 20 years, when though the curriculum had changed multiple times. No teacher in the system wanted their child in heyy class but no teacher was willing to actually report hey.

Earlier this year a teacher I know had to work with another teacher in getting remote learning set up. This teacher was unable to use Google told or zoom or any of the other tools. It took two other teachers to support her doing things like setting up all her meetings for her.

When this was reported to the administration, the administration told the two reporting teachers that they were out of line and could be disciplined for reporting the incompetent teacher.

Linda Fox · November 11, 2020 at 11:59 am

I basically like the idea of removing public support for re-enrollment of dropouts, but I would like a one-time exception, for students who agree to be evaluated for reading/math deficiencies. Many of the dropouts are those who are hopelessly behind in skills.
Many would be better served by a strong tutoring program to get them up to skill level appropriate with high school BEFORE re-enrolling them. At that point, they have a CHANCE for successful completion.

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