While the title of this article may point to the ethics of mandatory attendance laws regarding students enrolled in public education, the real topic at hand is an even broader question – is traditional brick-and-mortar schooling still necessary today and in the age of automation and technological improvement?
In a recent survey of college students, over six million young men and women stated that they had taken at least one online course in fall 2016. Look at younger cohorts, K-12 education, and you’ll find more private academies and homeschooling curricula focusing on enhancing and improving online capabilities for students. Even in most mathematics and science-based classes in middle and high school, students spend more time in front of a computer than they do a chalkboard.
Millennials and younger generations already find it incredibly easy and efficient to gain information and understanding from a computer better than they do a classroom, at least for most. Even for students and families who wouldn’t want their child taught entirely online, people love choice. Homeschooling co-ops allow parents to teach topics they are comfortable with at home, and have a professional teach their child other courses in a traditional classroom setting, or even online.
We live in the age of the internet and where people love to customize everything, but our K-12 education system sometimes doesn’t even allow those choices to be made. Mandatory attendance laws are always an easy fallback for bureaucrats and administrators anyway. They claim that if the laws weren’t in place, your child’s entire life can essentially be ruined and it can lead to (obviously) a life of crime and lowered expectations.
Despite this, every year the truancy rates in our public schools increase from coast to coast for one reason or another. In spite of the trends, the schools can’t enforce attendance, and when they do get involved it is usually by sending child protective services to the home.
What can be agreed upon is this, these mandatory attendance laws aren’t working because they can’t be enforced and when they are, the punishments for families are severe. What is known by many teachers and child professionals is this – children hate to be told what to do and they love choices. Giving children an opportunity to decide how they best learn is the key, even if it doesn’t involve a traditional school. Secondly, the forced conformity and obedience stressed in these government indoctrination centers prevents families from making the best decision for themselves and their children because they have to comply with these arduous laws or get a visit from a social worker.
Lastly, falling grades and standardized test scores across the nation for decades show that no matter how long you force a child to attend school, it doesn’t make them want to perform any better if they aren’t already benefiting from the way they are being educated. This is why early child enrollment programs such as Head Start aimed at lower-income communities fail as well, because the climate is what matters and each child learns at a different pace and in a different way, something no amount of days can provide to guarantee a cookie cutter form of success.