Until Mandatory attendance is required for every student in the United States until he/she graduates, our nation will continue to fall behind those nations who do require all students to graduate. If we stipulate a definitive age of freedom from attendance, there will always be a small percentage of students who barely hang in there until that age is reached. Graduation should be the goal that all students are required to attain. Learning Disabled students achieve a certificate of attendance, which is laudable. Unless a child has learning disabilities that strictly limit his ability to learn anything other than base skills, every student should be required to graduate with an achievement level of 70% or higher. This might require an age older than 18, but setting a definite age is a step in the right direction. If a student cannot meet graduation requirements the standard way, she should be mandated to complete a year of vocation courses with a score of 70%. To simply allow students to leave school without the skills or ability for anything other than a minimum wage, possibly for life, would be an injustice to the student.
Our government must set higher standards in education to be able to compete with other industrialized nations. We are currently on the verge of loosing our status as the world’s leader. We must set the bar higher and teach our children with a greater expectation of achievement. We must also have laws that deter teenagers from considering leaving school without a diploma. A drivers license should be revoked for students dropping out of high school. It should also be required for students to have a 70% achievement level to obtain a drivers license. For those students who are defiant and intent upon dropping out of school, there should be a law that allows employers to hire drop-outs at less than the minimum wage until they obtain their GED. Without harsh penalties for students who do not complete their high school educations, schools will have little enticement to hold on to students who falsely believe that quitting is the best way.
Americans are spoiled by some of the freedoms we enjoy. There is nothing wrong with expectations attached to some of the these freedoms. It is true that we have the freedom to fail; to do nothing productive. Such behavior should not be rewarded with privileges or government subsidies that hard-working students would have to pay for. A greater expectation should be placed upon parents to see that their children are raised in an environment conducive to learning and completing what is started. Schools must have the ability to intervene in home situations that are proven to be detrimental to a child’s safety and/or ability to concentrate during school hours. Children who habitually fall asleep in class would warrant an investigation, as well as those who are unable to focus and remain on task for less than thirty minutes at a time. Standards should be in place that allow teachers to report to truant officers. Truant officers should be trained in basic law enforcement and in health & human services. Currently, in many states, truant officers have no authority to enforce attendance or recommend jail time for the parents.
With requirements for enforceable laws and higher standards for all schools across our nation, our children would enter the education system with the belief that graduation is the only way out. Higher expectations taught from the beginning will see a dramatic increase in graduation rates. Gain is usually not obtained without some pain. However, when something is broken or working improperly, the cure involves a degree of discomfort before it is healed.