The average American high school is very much like the average American penitentiary; only the inmates get to go home at night and have the summer off. The imposition of mandatory attendance is sometimes the only way to get them to come back. Should skipping school be treated as a serious offense? Ask yourself how many prison inmates would return if they got to go home at night!
If you are asking if the student should be punished, then no it should not. If you asking if the parents, school instructors and administration, and a society that has imposed an antiquated educational model on our children should be punished when students skip school, I give a resounding “Yes” with force and conviction!
Skipping school is a symptom; not an offense. High school students who habitually skip school do so because they have reasons not to be in school. Those reasons could range from terrible instructors to abusive home-lives to a lack of preparedness for high school-level work. The lack of preparedness could also stem from instructors who provided inadequate education at the lower levels and/or the homes of these students.
Have you ever asked yourself why students are not in school during the summer months? Does it all have to do with the sunshine and summer sports? Not really; the system of education in America was created to accommodate the agrarian society that existed when it was established. Unfortunately, the scheduling isn’t the only thing that has remained the same over the years.
Our educational system fails to make room for the student who does not fit the one-size-fits-all standards that have been handed down from generation to generation. We teach new subject matter to keep up with the changes in knowledge; but we do not, for the most part, change how we deliver that subject matter.
Why? The simplest answer is probably the best answer. Education in the form of school boards and superintendents, is a political environment. In a large degree, educational reform is held hostage to the expedience of politics. It doesn’t matter if the participants are black, white, rich, poor, city or rural. A bunch of elected parents who think they know what’s best for children run the show.
May I suggest a better topic of discussion other than “Should skipping school be treated as a serious offense?”? How about, “Should the fact that educators are not the decision makers in the educational system be a serious offense?”
This is not to say that all high schools are equally as bad. There are progressive schools that utilize ground-breaking techniques. These are not the schools I am talking about here. But these schools are limited in many ways; limited enrollment, limited availability, limited access.
I teach in a open-enrollment community college. This means that anyone can attend without regard to their prior academic success. They are required to hold a GED or high school degree. Approximately 85% of these students require remediation in English, Math, and Reading. This leads me to ask, what are they learning in high school? Or maybe an even better question might be, what are they learning in grade school?
Many educators reading this article may very well be dedicated, competent, excellent teachers. Many will not be. Unfortunately, those who are not far out number those who are. Why? Why is easy; educators do not get properly compensated, valued, supported, and/or respected. Many of the good ones leave the profession or go into private education.
May I suggest a another topic of discussion other than “Should skipping school be treated as a serious offense?”? How about, “Should the devaluation and exploitation of those who practice the profession of educator be a serious offense?”
Instead of truant officers rounding up kids, I vote for officers rounding up corrupt politicians who use school boards to dole out political favor and officers who enforce adequate pay for educators. Oh well, I have always be a dreamer.