Truancy problem highlighted

Truancy problem highlighted

May 22nd, 2009 in Opinion Free Press

Nearly everyone will agree that a good education is essential to get a youngster off to a good start for success in life.

That's why we devote a large part of our taxes and other efforts to offer good educational opportunities.

Good teachers and administrators make great personal as well as professional efforts to help our boys and girls.

But all of that may go to waste if youngsters just don't show up at school.

There are laws that require school attendance. There are serious efforts by school authorities and local judges to provide an extra nudge to delinquent parents and children who don't live up to their personal responsibilities and opportunities in our schools.

But it still is shocking to read in the newspaper that a mother in neighboring Marion County was sentenced by a juvenile court judge to serve 48 hours in jail for not assuring that her child showed up at the second grade class at school.

In Hamilton County, the nine County Commission members have unanimously approved a resolution giving County Mayor Claude Ramsey authority to approve a Juvenile Court plan to require parents of chronically absent school children to pick up trash along our highways.

Surely, no one wants to see any parent sent to jail or sentenced to a roadside trash detail. But school attendance by our youngsters is of such importance that very serious remedial measures are called for.

Our Hamilton County school system reported nearly 20,000 truancy problems last year. Special attention has cut that problem nearly in half so far this year. But obviously, too many truancy problems remain.

You know the old saying that "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink." Local judges, school and other governmental authorities are commendably making efforts to be sure that parents get their children to the educational "watering trough." Taxpayers are forking over large amounts of money to be sure the "water" is there in the school system. Dedicated principals and teachers are trying to do what they can to inspire and teach when students attend. So it is very frustrating when chronic pupil absences still occur.

Parents and children, of course, have the primary responsibility. They are offered opportunities that should not be ignored or wasted.

The goal, of course, is not punishment for delinquent parents or children, but constructive solution for the neglect of educational opportunities.

We want all of our youngsters to succeed in life.