Should Kids Be Fined If They Skip School?

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In order for young people to do better in school, it helps if they actually are in school. Schools basically have two options when it comes to battling chronic truancy. There’s the positive approach, in which students are rewarded with iPads, sneakers, gift cards, and other incentives merely for showing up at school. Then there’s the flip side, in which students and parents are penalized for unexcused absences. In the past, parents have been sentenced to jail time for failing to get their children to school. Prosecutors have also suggested jail time as a penalty for missing parent-teacher conferences. Now there’s a school system in the news because its superintendent plans on fining families $75 for each day a student skips school.

In New Britain, Conn., a new superintendent of schools named Kelt Cooper wants to end high truancy rates among public school students, and he’s proposing monetary penalties to get the job done. A plan to fine students to the tune of $75 per skipped school day is now being considered by New Britain council members.

The concept of fining kids for skipping school may come as a shock, but it’s not new. In Ohio, the guardians responsible for a student guilty of habitual truancy can be fined up to $500 and/or be required to perform up to 70 hours of community service. Until recently, students in Los Angeles could be hit with a $250 penalty for each count of truancy; in early 2012 the law was amended and the stiff fines were removed, though a $20 penalty may still be handed out for the third offense.

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The Lebanon School District in Pennsylvania reportedly fined parents more than $500,000 during the 2008-2009 school year via $300-per-violation penalties. The fines grew so large—one parent alone was ordered to pay a whopping $27,000—that a federal lawsuit was filed against the district in early 2011.

Fines for truancy are also in effect overseas. In the U.K., reports the Guardian, parents can be fined £50 (about $80) for each day their child skips school. The penalty doubles if it’s not paid within 28 days, and school officials say that family vacations during the school year are not considered excused absences.

The question is: Do fines like this work? The vast majority of authorities in the U.K. said that, indeed, they are. The penalties were deemed either “very successful” or “fairly successful” by 79% in improving school attendance, according to a survey. The penalties seem to produce a bureaucratic nightmare, however, and not all that much in the way of revenues. More than 127,000 fines have been issued in the U.K. since the law took effect in 2004, and about half of the penalties have been withdrawn or were never paid.

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If the proposal passes in Connecticut authorizing fines for truancy, it’s unclear how effective the ordinance might be, how it would be enforced, and what might happen if parents and students refuse to pay up. Nonetheless, local officials seem to be willing to give it a shot. Per the Hartford Courant:

“The mayor agrees that truancy is a real issue in New Britain schools, and what’s been done in the past hasn’t been working to increase attendance,” said Phil Sherwood, aide to Mayor Timothy O’Brien.

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And what do the students think? In the New Britain Herald, one 17-year-old entering her senior year called the proposal “ridiculous,” and predicted that the penalties will clog up the court system. Besides, “I don’t see the point,” she said. “Kids will just try harder not to get caught.”

Brad Tuttle is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @bradrtuttle. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

51 comments
rymiller85
rymiller85

I for one say this is a tricky approach to cutting down on truancy. Charging the parents may or may not keep the kids from not missing school. I feel the better approach to knowing what you child is doing is to monitor them. I hear phone Sheriff installed on smart phones lets parents know where their child is by GPS and they can lock and unlock the phone by schedule. I really think the schools should take this approach to enforcing apps like Phone sheriff on the kids phone. This is much more effective and cheaper than fining them.

darthsaul
darthsaul

 If the kids skip your school don't blame the kids, blame yourself. Its probably your teachers who come to the class drunk, your teacher unions who protect their due paying thugs, your school lunches whose calorie content lags behind that of a slice of a cardboard, your bio syllabus which teaches that a sky-father molded us out of dust in last 500 years (or whatever), your English syllabus which teaches inadequate "multicultural" Chicanos and rappers, your math syllabus that teaches 12th graders 7th grade algebra. Fine yourself 75 dollars for every falsehood you have indoctrinated, every young spirit you have crushed by neglect. Fine yourself 75 dollars for every ADSD sufferer you've bullied, and every struggling ESL-student you've failed. Then add up all those fines on the right hand column, the truancy fines on the left hand column, and tell me whether or not they balance out. What a tyranny.  

darthsaul
darthsaul

 If the kids skip your school don't blame the kids, blame yourself. Its probably your teachers who come to the class drunk, your teacher unions who protect their due paying thugs, your school lunches whose calorie content lags behind that of a slice of a cardboard, your bio syllabus which teaches that a sky-father molded us out of dust in last 500 years (or whatever), your English syllabus which teaches inadequate "multicultural" Chicanos and rappers, your math syllabus that teaches 12th graders 7th grade algebra. Fine yourself 75 dollars for every falsehood you have indoctrinated, every young spirit you have crushed by neglect. Fine yourself 75 dollars for every ADSD sufferer you've bullied, and every struggling ESL-student you've failed. Then add up all those fines on the right hand column, the truancy fines on the left hand column, and tell me whether or not they balance out. What a tyranny. 

DP_Saint
DP_Saint

What is the purpose of education? Is schooling the same as educating? Mandatory attendance and teaching for the standardized tests written by the same geniuses that want to fine parents. Maybe voters should eliminate public schools. Schools have become ends in themselves rather than a means to an end. When you forget the real cultural values that education  are supposed to serve then all that's left is turning in upon yourselves and making your self into the be-all and end-all. For one thing, why fine kids for not attending school when the loss in lifetime earnings will make the fines look like chicken feed. Perhaps it's exactly the kids who are fed up with and see through sitting in a hard seat for seven hours a day and listening to a droning teacher who should be rewarded.

Raggedhand
Raggedhand

I'm a high school CTE teacher (Career and Technology Education...used to be called "vo-tech") and I teach graphics design and animation. My kids are in a dedicated vo-tech school where they get real world training.  My students come out with a portfolio and about 9 to 12 hours of media college credits, AP college credits and  professional certifications.  A few from my school will graduate high school with their high school diploma AND a college Associates degree. Every kid has applied to be in the classes and if he doesn't show up or do reasonably well, he's sent back to his home high school.

Truancy is not a problem.

Not everyone needs a college-track high school curriculum that gets them ready for a liberal arts education.  For some bizarre reason, out education system decided, about 15 years ago, that EVERY child will go to a four year liberal arts college.  Only 10% of the average working/middle class high school graduating senior class will graduate later on with a BA in something. What on earth did the ed. theorists think was going to happen to the other 90%?  What happened was a dismal, abject failure of our educational system that let down a generation of students. 

The US has a fantastic education system. We have the best teachers in the world teaching great students. There is a reason people from other countries fight to get in to the US so that their kids can benefit from our educational system. I know this because I was born in the UK and spend a lot of time in Europe. I've seen their education system first hand. If you really look at our scores and compare apples to apples we are right up there in international rankings. If you compare ALL of our students (which includes the special ed, the disadvantaged, the non-English speaking) against the college bound of Finland or Singapore...no, we don't show up in the rankings as well as we'd like. 

What we've done is take the 80-90% of kids who will not or should not be college bound and have said that if they're not going to State U. they're not worth educating. Those kids realize the score. They know they're not going to college.  They know they have no skills or prospects... so they give up.  And we adults nag and poke and prod and try to get them to stay in European Literature and Latin and wonder why they don't show up at school. 

Kids don't need fines to stop truancy. They need a logical reason to go to school. The truants need to see that their education will do them a lick of good. We adults have been telling kids that if they don't go to college they're trash ("A mind is a terrible thing to waste." Remember that one?).  They know they won't have the money to go to college and they know they they need an alternative. Their alternative in most school districts is the University of Mom's Basement.  We have to offer them better and if we do, they'll grab it with both hands. I know that for a fact. 

Tomorrow is the first day of school this year.  I'll be there and so will my kids.

John Forsthoffer
John Forsthoffer

   For many years kids have been skipping school, but now it is a big issue. Kids in the past didn't need rewards for going to school. It is a responsibility and should be treated that way. You start rewarding kids for doing they have to do and they will be very disappointed in the future when they stop receiving rewards. The problem is the parents. If they don't care, why should the schools get involved. Teach the kids that want to be there. The drop out failures will just have to continue to be the example to motivate kids to stay in school.  

Joseph Diamond
Joseph Diamond

Long before  the HS years kids should have a sense of where they are going and how to get there. To the extent that kids see HS as valuable they will attend.

If they see attendance as irrelevant  or dangerous...or interrupting the job they have to pay for the car they NEED.........they will not attend.

Punishing them for their own sense of self interest seems to be the last resort. Some kids can "DO" HS with a curriculum guide. Others never will. Early on they need motivation and direction.

Who will pay the fines anyway?

Joe

Mengle
Mengle

Education should be one of the best things in life, however, the US educational system does not educate. It has, increasingly, become the "teaching to pass a test". This is not teaching our children to learn or think. It is a 'rote' program that provides nothing to the student nor to the society.

rightalllthetime
rightalllthetime

Leave people alone. Enough is enough. Stay out of peoples lives. We are not your fricken robots and have to do everything you want us to. I missed alot of school in my time because of poverty. No clothes or shoes to ware. The goverment takes all our money in taxes, fines and whatever eles they think of to get our money. When our goverment stops taking from its people, Then parents can afford to send their children to school. Why not supply the children with some clothes vouchers and shoe voucher thru out the year, for parents whom have fallen on hard times.  

buffalo beano
buffalo beano

Fine the School system

1 Hiring Pedophiles and hiding it .

2 racial discrimination fights on School grounds

3 Bullying

4 failed teachers year after year .

 If kids are skipping , either the home is broken or financially strapped , same as the school system Financially strapped and a broken down system , School has more money FINE THE SCHOOL ...

Aleks Black
Aleks Black

Yet another reason government should be out of education.

Fine imposed on children is really a fine imposed on parents. A common reason parents cant supervise their kids is because they work too much to bring food to the table. What a crock of ____. Where do they get the authority for something like that. This is why education should be private. The penalty for not going to school is getting bad grades. Our country is becoming a tyrannical state.  I hope this principal is beat to death by some angry parents that cant feed their kids.

Kasbohmc2
Kasbohmc2

 I agree with your comment that, "fines imposed on children is really a fine imposed on parents."  However, until age 18 (in most states), it is the parent's legal responsibility to ensure their child(ren) get to school each day.  A fine for not attending school sends a message to the parent that, "hey, you're not fulfilling one of your legal obligations as the primary care-giver of this child."

It's no different when someone gets a speeding ticket.  That person was likely going over the stated limit, and not adhering to the law.  The fine (and points on the license) is meant to punish that action, and discourage that action from re-occurring.

It's the same thing with a school fine.  At one school where I substituted, every time a student said the 'F-word,' that student was fined $100 and suspended for 1 day (in the 1990s, it used to be $300, 1-day suspension, and a police citation).  However, due to the administrators' questionable unwillingness to enforce the policy, the student was usually just suspended for 1 day.  Yet, the students treated it like a vacation day, and did not view it as a punishment at all.  After all, their parents were not home, so why care?

The point is that if the student was actually fined, the parent would likely end up paying for it.  At the same time, that parent would be aware of their child's incredibly poor behavior and etiquette.  Having to pay $100, that parent would severely reprimand the child so as to discourage that behavior from occurring again.  That would help the child learn basic respect, and would benefit the teacher by not getting distracted from the lesson.  It's a Win/Win for both sides in the long-run.

Aleks Black
Aleks Black

Education is something that is traditionally left to the parents. If the parents burns the kids with cigarettes or beats them that's a separate issue, but the attendance policy should not fall under a regulatory power of the state. The issue is not whether or not a rule exists but whether the rules is justified and whether we as citizens want to live in a society where the government has such broad powers. If the government wants to set standards for education of its citizens through a tests that measures knowledge, no one would mind. If you want to hold students over that fail to meet an attendance policy of the school, that should be up to administration but fines involve a regulatory power.

Hypothetical, what if the parents  refuse to pay? are you going to jail them? will that help the children? This is a nonsense policy and an inevitable result of allowing the state to use its coercive powers to regulate education.

If the government really wanted to help the children, they would leave education alone so they dont screw it up just as they mess up everything else. Government shouldnt be bribing kids with ipads nor punishing them with fines.

Truancy courts are barely constitutional. Have you seen how these things work in practice? Since when are we allowing the government to raise our children? this is sick.

Kasbohmc2
Kasbohmc2

Allow me to take the main points of your reply point-by-point:

1) "Education

is something that is traditionally left to the parents."

That all depends upon how you define "education."  If you are referring to things like showing respect, proper table manners, etc., than yes - that education is up to parents.

However, if you define education by distinctive subject area (i.e. Honors History, AP Calculus), than the parent's knowledge is not adequate.  There is no way whatsoever that a parent could possibly hold all of the knowledge necessary to pass along to the child.  Even if the parent did know everything, that doesn't mean they know how best to teach it.  That is what public education is for - to share the burden of 'educating' the child with the parent.  It doesn't make public school teachers more important than the parents, but it acknowledges their unquestioned importance in education.

2) "...the attendance policy should not fall under a regulatory power of

the state."

It is irrelevant to state what 'should' and 'should not' be.  My original comment dealt with the realities of,  'what is.'  The school year is 180 days by law.  Students are mandated by law to attend for at least 160 of those days, so that they may gain the full benefit of the education they receive.  Since students are still children, they rightly have no say in the matter.  Learning to do things you don't want to do is a necessary part of maturation, and a part of growing up.

Out of curiosity, if the federal government should not regulate attendance, than who should?  (more on that question later)

3) "The issue is not whether or not a rule exists but whether the

rules is justified and whether we as citizens want to live in a society

where the government has such broad powers."

This part of your comment gets away from our micro-issue discussion (Truancy Policy) on Education, and instead shifts the discussion into the realm of Political Science.  As a Social Studies teacher, this would be a topic of discussion in my Government amp; Politics class at the high school level. 

"Whether the rule is justified" depends upon a number of factors.  Here, the discussion centers on whether fines for truancy are justified.  Presumably, you don't think such fines are justified because it signals that government's powers are too broad and too over-reaching.

Well, from a practical standpoint, such new rules/regulations would not be needed if the current rules were working.  Clearly, truancy is still a problem, and other solutions (incentives, punishments, attempted parental involvement) have been tried.  Across the board, these solutions have not worked.  Barring a better proposal, the government deems it necessary to intervene and try this solution.  It does so to improve the status quo, and not merely to extend its  reach.

Regarding the second part ("whether we as citizens..."), it would be fair to say that we have given our tacit consent to live under such a governing structure.  We are beholden to follow those rules and regulations for the good of the order.  If we disagree, we may (among other options) seek legal resolution, petition our Representatives, and even use our voting power to vote out those who are not helping.  That's the benefit of a republican democracy (not like the political party) - that citizens have a say in the way their country is run.

4) "If the government wants to

set standards for education of its citizens through a tests that

measures knowledge, no one would mind."

The government already does this through a number of programs, so the point you make here is already moot.  There is no, "if" about it.

5)  "If you want to hold students over

that fail to meet an attendance policy of the school, that should be up

to administration but fines involve a regulatory power."

"Hold[ing] students over that fail" is already up to the administration.  No one arguing that. 

However, fines do not involve a regulatory power.  A fine can be structured by a school OR a district, and then assigned to those students who violate the measure.  Trust me, I've seen school fines of differing amounts across different districts.  If the school feels it immediately necessary, they will not wait for the government to intervene.

6) "Hypothetical, what if the parents  refuse to pay? are you going to

jail them? will that help the children? This is a nonsense policy and an

inevitable result of allowing the state to use its coercive powers to

regulate education."

Your hypothetical here is interesting to consider.  At one point in our nation's history, there used to be something called, "Debtor's Prison."  As the name implies, people who could not pay their debts were detained until such debts could be paid off (by themselves or others).  It's hard to imagine now, but yes, at one point they did "jail them."

I am not advocating that we return to the time of Debtor's Prisons, but as the primary care-givers of their children, parents/guardians should be held accountable.  The solution is not to jail the parents, and no, that would not help the children (to answer both of your questions directly).  However, the student may be refused his diploma if the fine is not paid.  Or, he may be cited by the police, or taken before juvenile court (and sentenced to community service in lieu of inability to pay the fine).

Given the above, I fail to see why you view fines to be a 'nonsense policy.'  As with the previous point on Political Science, as citizens, we are responsible for abiding by those regulations.

7) "If the government really wanted to help the children, they would

leave education alone so they dont screw it up just as they mess up

everything else."

Actually, if government left Education alone, there would be no national standards.  Additionally, poorer schools would receive zero funding, and the voucher programs would be bankrupt.  Furthermore, government-sponsored lunch programs would cease to exist, and technology initiatives in schools would face a lack of funding.

While too much regulation can be burdensome, government does serve a beneficial role in public education in many areas.  Also, the fact that government might 'mess everything else up' is irrelevant.  We're discussing Education, not 'everything else.'

8)  "Government shouldnt be bribing kids with ipads nor

punishing them with fines."

I completely agree that government 'shouldn't be bribing kids.'  However, as explained above, 'punishing them with fines' in some instances can actually work to the students' long-term benefit.

9) "Truancy courts are barely constitutional.  Have you seen how these

things work in practice?"

I don't know where you read about the constitutionality of Truant Courts.  For one thing, the Constitution does not talk about Truant Courts.  The Truant Courts find their authority in the current rules and regulations set forth by the U.S. Department of Education.  Those courts are indeed both legitimate and necessary to deter further truant behavior.  Whether or not they are effective is another issue entirely (which our discussion does not touch).

10) "Since when are we allowing the government to

raise our children? this is sick."

No one is saying or 'allowing' the government to raise our children.  All the government is doing is instituting a policy to greatly encourage students to be present in school.  Wouldn't a parent or teacher encourage the same thing?  What is so wrong about that?  I fail to see how fines are in some way, "sick."

I look forward to your reply.

I look forward to your reply.I look forward to your reply.

I look forward to your reply.

Music66
Music66

No.  I don't want our schools/teachers focusing 80% of their time on the 20% who don't want to be there.  That's very unfair to those who are eager to learn, and to the teachers.

Kasbohmc2
Kasbohmc2

I am a public school Social Studies teacher (Grades 7-12), and come at this issue from 2 perspectives - the Professional and the Personal.

On the professional level, I am required to say that it's those "20% who do not want to be there" who need us the most.  They are most at-risk of ultimately failing, and limiting their future potential success as citizens.  It will be easier for the other 80% of their classmates, because they better understand the value of hardwork and dedication.  Also, remember that those 80% can learn from the mistakes and experiences of the 20%.  The 80% learn quickly that going down the road of the 20% will very likely lead to their ruin.  "Sometimes we learn more from Failure and the failure of others than from Success."

On a personal level, my feelings are entirely different.  For the past 5 years, I have noticed a verifiable shift in the character of the '20%.'  Back in 2007, those in the 20% generally included the class clowns, the lazy, the slackers, and those who occasionally talked back to the teacher when told to do something.  They distracted time away from the lesson, and sometimes had to be lectured after class.  Detentions were only infrequently given, and phone calls home were rare, and a trip down to the principal's office was rarer still.

Yet, "that was then, this is now."  In the past 2 years (2010-2012), those 20% have become some of the rudest, vulgarest, most violent and temperamental students whom I have ever encountered.    The 2012 crop of the 20% make the 2007 crop look like angels by comparison.  Unlike then, I have thrown more of them out of class for blatantly unacceptable behavior, assigned far more detentions, and written-up more students for suspension now more than even before.  Phone calls home are ineffective 98% of the time, because parents never answer.  Even adjusting the syllabus to make Class Participation 15% of the grade has not had any effect, because many of the 20% don't want to be there in the first place.

Basically, I (for one) have had it with the 20%.  They take their tax-payer funded public education for granted, and believe that school should be an extension of home - meaning, they should be able to dictate whatever they do.  They get their way at home, and they believe it should be no different in the classroom.  Yet, to my shock and amazement, the schools (and the psychologists...) diagnose the 20% with mood and behavioral disorders.  Those diagnoses provide accommodations for the 20% which you would not believe.  The diagnosis ends up excusing the outright wrong (and sometimes immoral) behavior, and takes the teeth out of our ability to enforce the rules.

All of this leads me to wonder what you're wondering - why bother with the 20% when they're ultimately screwing their future prospects, and taking away time from other students?  When I was still a college student, I was naiive to how much the 20% had changed, and believed what I was fed in my college Education courses. 

Now, having been in the Real World, I think Teacher Training Programs need to update their material.  The 20% are not the same as when we knew them.  They are bolder, brasher, more vulgar, less social, and less willing to negotiate.  In many cases, they are tribal, unsophisticated, ill-mannered, and immature for their age-group.  What they need is to spend some time in juvenile detention, or even a day in prison (like they do on Maury).  They need to be educated about where their attitudes and behaviors will take them in life.   That would be far more valuable than any math, science, or history lesson - a brief course on The Consequences of Failure.

sniper74
sniper74

Well I think we need to change our education system first before punishing our kids.  When we have teachers and staff not caring about giving a quality education it's hard to blame the students for not wanting to be at school.

We need to first make school interesting and fun to attend.  Have the teachers give real world examples of why the students need to learn and they will get it.  High School these days is just a high priced babysitter for our teens.  There are no real world values learned at High School.  We need more art, music, shop classes and science classes that are interesting.  We need less history especially when the history lessons learned in High School are the same ones learned in Elementary or at least Jr. High.

We need to stop spending money on sports and really focus on our core education.  India and Pakistan, both pretty much third world country, have students that have a better understanding of the core classes than we do.  We are a First World country and we should be living up to that expectation.

I had a Physics teacher that hardly used the text book.  We went out and shot potatoes out of cannons, we dropped objects from the roof of the school, we calculated breaking times and acceleration using cars and trains and we experimented with things outside the classroom.  According to what my Principal said, he raised the average Physics grade from a D to a B, but his tests were hard.  Lots of essays, he graded hard on all experiments.   He would even take off points for misspelled words.

We need teachers that inspire the student, that lead the student as well as follow the student.

So lets start by fixing our education program first.  Then see what happens.

omegafrontier
omegafrontier

 Are you sure it's our education system and teachers that are wrong or is it that some students are just rotten and cannot be taught.  In reality, there are certain groups of student that just do not have the will to learn.  And we are expecting teachers to be miracle workers, where they not only teach but miraculous change the lazy bumps into future scientists.  It seems to me that we have impossible expectation for teachers and forgetting the role of parents.  Kids coming from structured family, with good parenting, are mostly always the A students.

sniper74
sniper74

 Well when you look at all the other countries in the world and then compare it to our education system.....ours sucks.  Our teachers get paid like crap, we spend more on our sports venues and sending our troops overseas than we spend on our education system.   How can you have good education and good parenting when our parents are working two or more jobs to put food on the table?  How can you have good education system when we spend more on our sports teams than we do on our education system?

Bill Wright
Bill Wright

Yes, the more discipline they receive when they are young, especially if it helps them learn value, the better.  Besides, we are paying for their education.  If they fail to show up, they face a demonstrable cost, so they learn that ignorance is not free.

Walter Prout
Walter Prout

Gee, what a great idea !..............................NOT !

How frigging stupid does this really sound ?..................VERY STUPID !

You fine the parents and it's going to cost more then you ever believe because if and when a parent gets tired of shelling out their hard-earned bucks, their going to take it out on the kids in the form of punishment............like CHILD ABUSE !

Sounds more like the GOVERNMENT wants more control of our lives !  

Wiley E. Coyoté
Wiley E. Coyoté

This will help get kids to stop skipping school.... by making them drop out

Kasbohmc2
Kasbohmc2

 American public school students are mandated by law to attend school until they are 18 years of age (in most states; in some, the age ranges from 14-17, accompanied by parental permission).

Therefore, the school cannot 'make' a student drop-out.  The school either 1) expels the student, or 2) the student formally withdraws from the school on his own once he has met all of the requirements.

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

Yes, the government should take on this role instead of parents. So, since the article points out, "There’s the positive approach, in which students are rewarded with iPads, sneakers, gift cards, and other incentives merely for showing up at school..." then I say, YES the government should fine the children for skipping school AND the government should have to pay for ipads, sneakers and gift cards for when they merely show up!

What a load of nonsense. Is the government now basically looking to tax our children?? If you're so adamant to fine them when theyre bad, then you'd best be prepared to pay for their rewards when theyre good! Otherwise, thanks, but I WILL PARENT MY OWN CHILDREN.

Sundowner123
Sundowner123

Why? I am sure everyone did. This isn't the first generation that has ditched or skipped classes. What a crime.  I would worry about teaching or making classes more interesting so they don't think about it. 

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

yeah how about funding our schools and teachers properly. As the media tells it, what does it matter if they attend anyway since the schools themselves are pits with toilet-level grades.

Kasbohmc2
Kasbohmc2

As a High School Social Studies Teacher, I greatly appreciate Time.com bringing the issue of "How To Deal With Student Truancy" to light.

To start, there are legitimate reasons for being truant (or 'late') to school.  Such excuses would include a morning doctor's appointment or a late school bus arrival.  These instances result in the student being late, and are perfectly legitimate reasons.

However, I (and many of my colleagues) have noticed a few patterns in student lateness.  For one thing, if an exam is being given in the morning, some students will predictably not show up for class.  Yet, we see those exact same students at some point later on in the day.  When asked in the next day's class, the student will rattle off some hastily contrived tale of woe that explains away the absence.  Most of the time, we, "don't buy it."  Regarding the missed exam, I give the absent student a different, slightly harder version (on the logic that he/she had an additional day to study).

Getting back to the article, the idea of assigning fines for truancy is a most interesting one.  It assumes that making those truant students 'pay up' for being late will result in them not being late as much in the future. 

Hmmmm. 

Since I was in high school from 2002-2006, I still remember fairly well what it was like to be a public school student.  I would have viewed such fines as encouragement to be on time (my parents would have made me pay the fine).  So, I would not have had a problem with the new measure.

However, as noted in the article, there are a number of students who would simply refuse to pay the fine (and in rare cases, actually sue the school).  So, it would seem the real issue lies in how to deal with those students who refuse.

To deal with such students, schools have a variety of available options.  If the student refuses to pay, the school may:

1) Refuse to allow the student to graduate.

2) Issue that student after-school detention (and even suspend the student after repeated unpaid truancy fines).

3) Increase the fine (or attach another fine) to the current unpaid fine.

4) Issue demerits (if demerits are even used anymore).

5) Send the student to juvenile court.

6) Send a truancy officer to the student's house, and demand to speak with the parents.

Most importantly, though, the school must explain to the student why education is important.  A discussion about the competition - domestic and international - would enlighten the student as to who else is competing for jobs.  Remind the student that, "Everything counts."  In other words, use the truancy discussion as an opportunity to impart a valuable lesson that will serve the student's utmost benefit.

Wiley E. Coyoté
Wiley E. Coyoté

It makes me laugh to see how people who were themselves once in high school think they can somehow bully or coerce unwilling students into attending classes productively when the entire measure of success in school is so completely dependent on the student's participation and desire to succeed that to even think it could be forced is asinine. It's almost as if administrators think that if they can just find a way to make a student's life miserable enough to not do what is expected of them in school, they will magically develop a sense of responsibility, duty, and enthusiasm about the very institution that is seeking to control them and limit their freedom by coercion. You can't force a person to be responsible-you can allow them to make their own choices, or you can encourage them by educating them of the negative and positive consequences of their actions, but if you try to strong-arm a bunch of surly teenagers into doing something you will only serve to drive them away and make them give up on the school system all together.

Kasbohmc2
Kasbohmc2

 The fact of the matter is that many states require student attendance until age 18.  Only some states allow a student to 'drop out' with parental permission between the ages of 14-17. 

Until that point, students are legally responsible for attending school.  It's not a matter of 'bullying or coercion' by someone who used to be in high school.  Quite frankly, it's the law that mandates it.

Beyond the legal requirement to attend school, you're right in saying that teachers cannot make their students care.  We can encourage student involvement through a variety of activities.  Yet, when all is said and done, it's ultimately the student who must meet us halfway.

Also, I had to laugh at your, 'administrators being magicians' commentary.  I have dealt with many different administrators, and you can rest assured that very few of them operate under the magical delusion you describe. 

[In fact, I have only come across one who did.  He had a real 'baby face,' and operated under the influence of Positive Re-enforcement (rewarding good behaviors to encourage such behavior in the future).  Yet, the vast majority of the student body were transplants from inner city areas, and were thugs and gangsters.  They didn't want to hear  'Whitey' talk about positive re-enforcement.  Unfortunately, our administrator was oblivious to that sentiment.] 

Lastly, while I agree with you that we can't make students care, we in fact can make them attend school for the majority of the year.  Barring emergency circumstances, public schools have the backing of the law to obligate student attendance.  One way or another, they will have to show up for at least 160 of the typical 180 school days. 

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

well one way to combat the 'exam day' tardiness is to give your test schedules to the parents so theyre aware of when those 'special' days are.

Kasbohmc2
Kasbohmc2

You're absolutely right.  I actually do not remember any of my public school teachers employing that approach.

It wasn't until college and graduate school when professors would detail exam dates in the course syllabus.  That way, all of us knew ahead of time. 

Just to continue the discussion, many of the kids in public school throw away the "course syllabus" and other scheduling documents given by the teachers.  They do this, so that their parents will never see the teacher's written expectations. 

In response, we've begun requiring a copy of the document(s) be brought back to us signed by the parent.  Failure to do so results in a "0" as a quiz grade; success in doing so results in an "A."  It becomes Win/Win for both myself and the students.

It's becoming one of the rarer instances where those kinds of Win/Win situations are still possible.  As students get bolder and more arrogant, they are more likely to dictate than ask politely (becoming more uncommon) or even negotiate (which ends up taking on dictatorial overtones).  I think they follow the demanding demeanor of their parents, and expect us to accept it too.  The line between appropriate and inappropriate behavior is increasingly blurred in their minds.

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

In my school, at the start of every school year, at least one parent had to come to school for parent/teacher conference. They were given a copy of our syllabus, and any requirements for our classes, as well as all permission slips etc that would be needed for the semester. Its better than having to return a signed document, because even in that case a child can forge a signature.

In the end, however, schools can't do it all. parents have the be partners in education and today they just don't seem to participate. Its not some feature of 21st century genetics that make kids so difficult to educate; its a lack of proper parenting. I also recognize that schools are looking for more teeth for their rules, and frankly they need it. When I was a kid, my school was very strict and the nonsense that goes on today just simply wouldnt have been tolerated.

But I also recognize when the legitimate cocnerns of parents and teachers are being used by the state as a hot-button to make you foolishly support greed couched in concern. The upshot of this article is, "Gosh, doesnt the entitlement of children who don't do their work annoy you? Let's drain more money from parents to the state coffers!" I don't buy it. All of these concerns are legitimate; so lets fund our schools again, give them the ability to maintain discipline and get our parents to parent again -not make a financial killing off truancy for state officials who cannot already manage the money we give them.

agarron
agarron

Brilliant idea.

Pay kids to go to school, fine them for not showing up.

Pay for grades and fined for fails.

Sounds like a great way to get kids focused on the economic results from good grades.

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

I agree with one tiny exception. If the government plans to parent my children and fine them for not showing up, they should also PAY TO BUY MY KIDS THOSE REWARDS like ipads! What's good for the goose, is good for the gander!

Roy Austin Smith
Roy Austin Smith

no, parents may not be able to pay fine. that is a stupid man .other ways of punishment. rich people, it would not bother, poor people are lucky to have their kids in school. i believe the US has gone completly nuts.

Gary McCray
Gary McCray

Liberty and individual freedom versus the State.

The bottom line issue is parents rights versus institutional and States rights.

Our daughter had to sign a contract with the school guaranteeing that her son would not be absent.

The State has always demanded considerable and growing control over our children while still leaving us (the parents) increasingly libel for their actions.

Perhaps the institution has become too important or at least self important and possibly we might wish to rethink whether meeting it's obligations is more important than fulfilling our own.

Su 카스가 맥주이름 아니엿어??
Su 카스가 맥주이름 아니엿어??

You need to teach kids the purpose of their education. It's not enough to punish or even use positive reinforcement for their attendance at school. 

adam_onge
adam_onge

So what's the purpose of their education?

According to Pink Floyd:

"We don't need no education.

We don't need no thought control.

No dark sarcasm in the classroom.

Teacher leave the kids alone.

Hey, teacher leave the kids alone!

All in all it's just another brick in the wall.

All in all you're just another brick in the wall"

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

well luckily Pink Floyd doesnt parent my children, I do. And you parent yours.... I hope.

adam_onge
adam_onge

 Chinese, Korean and American motto:

"If you really work hard you will be good"

My motto (Pink Floyd might agree?):

"If you are good you don't really have to work that hard"

Mary Della Valle
Mary Della Valle

Su, a lot of American parents don't do that.

Kids think they go to school to socialize with their friends, compare fashions and tech toys.

No wonder American public schools are so far behind schools of, say, Korea.

Ruth Raynor
Ruth Raynor

There shouldn't be a tangible reward or a punishment for going to or skipping school. Your reward for going to school is the qualification you earn. Your punishment for skipping school is not being able to get a job. Your parents are supposed to drill this into you!

bhayzone
bhayzone

 Yeah, the problem is that here we are talking about kids. One kids hardly listed to anything their parents tell them and there is hardly any way for parents to enforce any behavior on kids without breaking some goddamn law. Second,by the time a "kid" becomes mature enough to realize how miserable his/her job prospects are, it has already become too late.

Ruth Raynor
Ruth Raynor

If a child doesn't listen to their parents, it's usually because their parents are either too passive or not assertive enough. Although society doesn't help the case for school, what with the rampant anti-intellectual thread running through the media (take a look at The Learning Channel!)

Chris Terry
Chris Terry

Fine kids? Fines are unfair as some families are rich and some are poor. No one should be fined money for anything.

Besides, where would kids get money if there are NO JOBS? I used to pump gas when I was a kid for example but those jobs are gone. I used to wash dishes for $13/hr and now they hire illegals to do that for $7 (literally). I used to deliver newspapers but now print is dead.    

sgreco1970
sgreco1970

you washed dishes for 13/hr when you were 13??

BTW craig's list had tons of these. here's just 1.

Looking for dishwasher for restaurant in Bay View. This is a manual dish-washer position using a three-sink setup.

Duties include:

Unloading/Stocking Inventory

Closing and Cleaning Kitchen By Yourself

Cleaning of General Areas and Food Storage Spaces

Other Duties as Assigned

We offer competitive pay, and the following incentives

Paid Breaks

Free Meals

A Casual Work Atmosphere

Possibility for Advancement and Other Work Opportunities

---no illegals stolen it yet, GO GET IT!

Alan Hodgson
Alan Hodgson

 Obviously the fines would be to the parents. And they're easy to avoid - make sure your kid is in school. Although I would expect they would mostly never get paid anyway, so it's probably a waste of effort.