March 31, 2015

Let's Rethink Truancy Rather than Compounding the Issue

I don't even own a cat so I can't just, like, take a cute cat photo and post that a blog for y'all. Instead I've got an article and a diatribe on truancy policy. ‪#‎longreads‬:
I'm so frustrated by educators and politicians "cracking down" on truancy. There is already so little flexibility in our public school systems and the approach by our AG's office, and many other legislators is to be tough on this issue like any other crime without addressing any of the actual issues underlying the fundamental problems.
Truancy is not an issue of simple attendance or always caused by a commitment to education on a parents' part. And it makes no sense to penalize parents in areas where there are no transportation services or accommodations. Our local elementary school sends us letters constantly about the importance of "showing up", never actually giving us concrete ideas or encouragement to engage in our children's education. My child also can only be allowed to stay home sick from school if she has a fever or is vomiting. Nothing less is sufficient so we're forced to send them to school not feeling well or get exposed to viruses unnecessarily.
While my child is 6 and therefore legally required to attend school, her education is more than the three hours in the kindergarten classrooms each day. We have other entire programs built into her schedule and she works hard year round at a huge array of goals to augment the classroom setting. Sometimes what is best for her is to have a few days break at a time that's been difficult for her and our developmental pediatrician has recommended reducing demands. We also have gotten calls from her school warning that there have been multiple cases of confirmed whopping cough on her campus, (seems like maybe kids could be kept home when having those infectious symptoms, not just the fever/vomiting criteria). Yet our school district superintendent keeps mailing the same pointless letters on showing up and not missing even ONE hour of school. It's rude, ineffective, punitive and totally misses the point.
Regarding the article below: Obviously, I'm not a resident of Illinois but I find the idea of parents being fined or jailed for truancy to be disgraceful and the proposal to double the punishment for parents of children utilizing special education to be discriminatory (so obviously, the way we can just glance at Indiana's new law and know deep down that's wrong).
Why can't lawmakers and school districts work with families to make sure there is enough done to meet needs of families who struggle to make it to school? Perhaps we needs built in sick time and a longer school year or floating "family days"? Maybe some families are missing school they don't have reliable transportation, perhaps they've got unaddressed behavior or learning issues or maybe their child has a disability or diagnosis not understandable to these administrators and they can listen and work to find a new service, modification or accommodation so the child can access education better.

Stiffer penalties could soon be in store for parents in one state whose children skip school, but the harsher punishment would only apply to those with kids in special...