Memo from teachers: We can't teach 'em if they're not here

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  • Lifelong Republican Orem, UT
    Sept. 25, 2013 12:50 a.m.

    I can't imagine going to a job and then being held accountable for things I couldn't control. That is exactly what we do to our teachers. The legislature in Utah is definitely guilty of this. It would drive me crazy. My hat is off to those that are able to handle it.

    Sept. 24, 2013 6:33 p.m.

    “Why aren't these kids in class? Because school doesn't engage them, or they have diagnosed learning problems, or they just learn differently than the 'factory' methods currently being practiced.”

    Absolute Rubbish!

    Many of my chronically absent students are at home tending younger siblings. Others are at home because of co-dependent parents. Then there are those who disappear to Latin America sometime in December and return at the end of January.

    As for the rest, I spend hours and hours (and significant amounts of my own money) preparing “engaging” learning activities that reach students with all different learning styles. I make sure that EVERY student is highly successful in my classroom but they must show up to get the maximum benefit. I cannot duplicate, in a meaningful way, the amazing events that happen inside my classroom on a daily basis for the absent student. They are stuck with the “factory” methods and boring packets that are sent home as absent work.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 24, 2013 3:04 p.m.


    We are on the precise same page reference school grading. It is a good idea and the more information available the better.

    I think compulsory education is a great thing. It gives kids who want to go to school a needed lever against parents who prefer them not to (and yes, they absolutely do exist). I would love it if every parent wanted to do right by their child. But I know for a fact not all do. Getting those kids to school gives them at least a chance.

    It also gives parents a needed tool when their child is recalcitrant. I argued with my eldest about going to school. The fact that it was the law helped. I doubt I am the only one to have ever needed that help.

    Finally, I think that the impetus for moving away from compulsory education (there is home school, private school, just as long as it is school) is at least partially about funding (and perhaps, politics). We don’t like the cost and this looks to lead us away from the funding obligation.

    But an uneducated permanent underclass would cost us very dearly. We need all kids in school.

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    Sept. 24, 2013 12:13 p.m.

    Ok all of you smarty pants people who think that forcing kids to go to school is a good thing, can you tell me what good it does to test kids who don't want to be there or be tested?

    Does it help or harm a school if they have bad boy billy take the test where he writes his name, then fills in the bubbles so that his "answers" look like swear words?

    The schools, like kids, should have report cards, not a single letter grade.

    Grade them separately on attendance, state test scores, teacher turnover, student turnover, AP test passing rates, crime rates on school property, student/teacher ratio, and things like that.

    If I see a grade for a school I would like to know about all of those things, not just a single letter grade that doesn't give a clear picture of how the school functions.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 12:08 p.m.

    Z: really? As a school counselor I search for these kids. Can't find them. Their parents think they are here but they aren't. Their parents can't find them because they won't answer their cell phones. Some parents are not willing to fight the battle because they don't want their kids mad at them. Seriously. Schools of today are doing so much more to help those square peg students to find their own niche but we can't unless they show up. This is the elephant in the room that no one wants to touch up on Capitol Hill. It is easier to blame schools and teachers rather than realize we all have a common stake in the education of our students.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    Z -- Yeah, right. Do you really expect anyone to swallow that nonsense?

  • Z South Jordan, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    But of course, the only time we are worried that the little snots aren't around is at testing time, because that is the only time we are accountable for them. The rest of the time, who cares? Not the teachers, apparently. Not the parents, it seems. Not anyone else in the system.

    Why aren't these kids in class? Because school doesn't engage them, or they have diagnosed learning problems, or they just learn differently than the 'factory' methods currently being practiced. But we still keep trying to force square pegs into round holes, because all we have are round holes. When the 13% of kids that are 'square pegs' just don't fit in, we throw up our hands and say "it must be the parent's fault" instead of looking at the faults in the system that are driving these kids away from school.

  • EJM Herriman, UT
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:39 a.m.

    Great column and on the money. On behalf of educators everywhere thank you.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Sept. 24, 2013 7:07 a.m.

    No, no, no. You have it all backwards. According to Senator Osmond and company those kids don't need to be there. The remainder will learn better and those who don't go will . . . will . . .

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Sept. 23, 2013 7:57 p.m.

    School age kids are mostly minors. I can assure you that my kids school attendance is extremely good. And when my kid is not at school, there a very good reason (ie doctor/dentist)

    It is my responsibility to insure my child is in school. I say hold the parents responsible.

  • Steve Cottrell Centerville, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 6:47 p.m.

    Just as we suspected: you can't teach kids who are not there, and you cant test kids you can't find.

    Let's assign those who are not there to their local legislator to find, teach, and test. There are enough of our legislators who are profiting from charter and private schools.

  • Really??? Kearns, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 6:31 p.m.

    We hold everyone accountable except for the biggest stakeholders.

  • Kings Court Alpine, UT
    Sept. 23, 2013 5:10 p.m.

    Perhaps schools should sue students and their parents for not upholding their end of the law.