Follow the Money
Michael Lopez at Highered Intelligence has a good post about the student who skipped class to go sing in the Indianapolis Children's Choir before President Bush gave a speech. The school principal initially gave the student an unexcused absence until the school superintendent reversed the decision.
Michael asks, "Is it me or did I just read that a child's parents can't "excuse" an absence just by saying so? This can't be true... can it? A school that doesn't let parents just excuse a kid?"
He argues that the "first change that should be made is that parents can excuse their kids whenever and however they want. The schools are in loco parentis, not parentis itself. When parentis is actually there, in loco is, well, irrelevant. And loco, as in pollo. The idea that a parent can't decide when their child goes to school reeks of condescension and arrogance on the part of the district. It's categorically ludicrous."
I agree. It is one of the things I dislike most about government schools--the nanny state role where they discount parents’ rights to make decisions regarding their children.
One point that Michael doesn't bring up is why parents can't just excuse any absence. It's all about the money. As long as schools receive funding based on average daily attendance, they will tightly control the circumstances under which children are allowed to be absent. In fact, even when parents have legitimate reasons, schools can threaten them with tough truancy policies. When I was attending 10th grade at Orange high school, waiting to turn sixteen so that my California proficiency exam scores would count, and I could go to college, I missed at least one day of school a week. I was making excellent grades--but I just couldn't stand to be there. My dad knew about my absences and even approved. However, the school went ballistic. The principal called a parent conference, she questioned my teachers about how I could have good grades and miss class, and she threatened to expel me if I missed any more class. Ah, the logic of school bureaucrats.