Some of those in a land not far, far away, but right here, like to scramble how school funding is spent. They say, let’s do away with students who don’t care and focus on those who do. Class sizes would be smaller, and schools could spend their portion of your taxes on a better school experience for those who are far ahead in their studies and wouldn’t think of skipping a class. Truancy out and advanced education in, while we spend less per student as the school population shrinks. Why try to rescue kids who don’t want to be rescued?
It doesn’t matter if a student wants to be saved by remedial means, educated by alternative teaching tools (computer classes) or just pushed out on the street. It is illegal to throw kids out of school permanently, truant or not, schools have to give it their best shot. According to state law, it is the responsibility of the parent to make sure their child attends classes, or to court they go.
Why are kids truant? High schools with a population of just under 2,000 students offer a perfect breeding ground for peer pressure and a student can also be affected by: separation or divorce within the family; abuse, neglect or bullying; mental and physical health issues; low self esteem; financial problems, lack of friends, lack of academic skills, boredom or moving repeatedly.
The effects of truancy are catastrophic and dangerous to the community. Throw them out of school, which I reiterate, is illegal and they are left with: Decreased earning ability; involvement in daytime crime, vandalism, and shoplifting; two and a half times more likely to be on welfare; involvement in gangs; no higher education. Ninety-four percent of murder victims under the age of 25 are dropouts, according to San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris.
How does their truancy and lack of completing high school affect others? Truancy affects an entire class when a teacher slows down to help the truant student; an increase in crime means more victims; increased cost to the whole community for additional law enforcement; teen pregnancy and welfare costs to society. So while the cost to the school system can be cumbersome, the repercussions in the community and money spent later far outweigh a school budget line item.
In southeastern Chesterfield, since January 1, 2013 there have been at least seven threatened suicides in the five high schools in our readership area. Something’s amiss with kids who are so depressed they think suicide is the only way out. And they make the threat at school. Is that a cry for help? Can we get these kids back on track? We have to.
Chesterfield is proactively addressing the truancy problem and experienced an on time graduation rate, in 2012 of 89.9 percent, the highest in the metro are with a drop-out rate of 6.9 percent, 2.5 percent lower than 2011. In Chesterfield, seven of 11 schools were above the state average, while four of eight in Henrico and three of eight in Richmond were not.
Community in Schools has accumulated 14,070 volunteer hours through mentoring. The value of service (using Independent Sector’s standard rate of $22.60 hour for a volunteer hour in the State of Virginia) is $317,982. How does that figure into the truancy issue in the school budget line item?
Some have the misguided opinion that school vouchers would solve the problems of truancy or any other issues our schools might have, such as overcrowding, grades or parent ideology. Can you imagine a voucher system that would give all students’ parents an opportunity to send their child to any Chesterfield County school they would want? What a disaster. A majority of parents would send or lobby their kid to the best schools in the county. There may even be bribes involve. “Hey coach, here’s a few thousand bucks to fix up that football field if you can get my kid in your school.” Then those kids with limited resources would end up in the run-down older schools where good teachers may leave or try to transfer to the “better schools” in the county.
OK, let’s open it up to public and private schools. Here comes Bobby Jindal, Governor of Louisiana whose voucher system was deemed unconstitutional. At least 19 of his schools will teach or champion creationist nonscience and will pull in nearly $4 million in public funding from the initial round of voucher designations, according to a national magazine.
And here’s the top ten “wacky facts” they are basing their curriculum on: The existence of Nessie the Loch Ness Monster; dinosaurs and humans lived side by side; dragons were totally real; Globalization is a precursor to rapture; abstract algebra is too dang complicated; Mark Twain and Emily Dickinson were a couple of hacks; The Great Depression wasn’t as bad as the liberals made it sound; the KKK was A-OK; Slave masters were nice guys; Global environmentalists leave no doubt that their goal is to destroy the prosperous economies of the world’s richest nations.” These are among many that are found in just one of the required books of private Louisiana schools: “A Beka Book; Life Science, Bob Jones University Press.” Truancy is a problem but maybe better than learning falsehoods.