Advertisement

Keeping students coming

November 17, 1998

Skip too many days of high school in West Virginia and you may find yourself depending on your feet instead of your automobile for transportation.

That's been the law for six years, but it didn't stop 321 Jefferson County students from playing enough hooky last year to have their licenses lifted for six weeks. Now officials are considering enough tougher measures, measures we feel need careful study before they're enacted.

In neighboring Berkeley County, officials revoked only 150 student licenses because of unexcused absences, perhaps because a suspension there lasts for a whole semester - 18 weeks - instead of the six-week penalty invoked in Jefferson County. If a that's what it takes, so be it.

We're less enthusiastic about another proposal that would prevent Jefferson County students with unexcused absences from making up the work they missed. If the point of keeping students in school is to ensure that they learn something, why bar those who are trying to redeem themselves from doing so?

Advertisement

What sounds better to us is a proposal from Taylor Perry, Berkeley County's director of pupil services, who says that barring truants from school social activities - like dances and football games - would be a much more effective deterrent.

And finally, let's consider this: The effect of any of these measures is to coerce students who don't want to be in school to come to class anyway. Do those compelled in this way turn into better students, or do their resentments lead them to disrupt the class for others?

We're not arguing that the schools would be better off without such students; the schooling they miss now is something they'll have to make up later, at taxpayers' expense. What we're looking for - and what we don't see in any of these proposals - is a way to change truants' attitudes about school's value.

Our suggestion: Put those who don't think they need school today in touch with those who dropped out in years gone by. A look at how hard life can be without an education may inspire a few more truants to try harder to get to class.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|