A school district in Muskogee, OK, has announced that it will be enforcing a state law that calls for fining students $250 for missing school repeatedly with no valid reason. Students could also be imprisoned for 15 days. Parents are not happy. No kidding.
WHAT ARE THEY THINKING?
I have had the opportunity to observe student behavior for 37 years. As teachers, counselors, and principals, we worked with students to discover the reason for school avoidance. Sometimes, there was little parental control, or even substance or child abuse. Some students had low self-esteem, caused by many previous failures. Some students did not want to come to school because of bullying. Some needed psychological help for mental illness. The districts I knew worked with the parents first, and only in severe cases of absenteeism, and only after all other avenues were explored, students were referred to the local magistrate, and parents were fined. Student imprisonment was never an option.
I do not condone student absenteeism. Chronic absenteeism leads to dropping out of school, which leads to economic struggles and poverty. But I simply cannot see fining the student, which is the same as fining the parent, and then throwing the student in jail, causing more absenteeism. This policy is not viable, and not a good idea, in my opinion.
Schools must work toward making the school climate welcoming, safe, and supportive. School must be a place where students want to be and choose to be. Teachers must extend themselves to students to assuage fears and anxiety. Administrators, teachers, parents, and the student must all work together for the good of the student.
I am appalled that any state would actually have a law regarding the imprisonment of students. I could not work as a teacher in Oklahoma.
If you are interested, here is the link to the article: http://1057news.com/2018/08/26/06/16/20/oklahoma-high-school-to-fine-students-for-tardiness-missing-class/
As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions.
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