Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Radloff Family

The experience we've had this year is a pretty good example of why the truancy bill doesn't work well.

My daughter is a very bright child who gets good grades. She is a competitive figure skater and participates in dance, musical theater and Girl Scouts. We are a highly-involved family that tries to provide a wide range of educational opportunities for our children outside of school. For example, this year, my daughter was selected to dance in Ballet Nebraska's "Nutcracker" ballet in December. This once-in-a-lifetime experience opportunity gave her the chance to perform alongside professional dancers from around the world. In order to participate in this, we had to pull her out of school for 1 ½ days. We felt that the cultural experience of performing in a professional ballet exceeded any lesson she would have learned in the classroom those days. Another year, she was selected to skate with Nancy Kerrigan for a special food bank promotion; this required us to pull her out of school for ½ a day. Again, this was an opportunity that will impact her for a lifetime -- I cannot say the same for whatever lesson occurred in the classroom that afternoon. As I will explain below, my daughter has a number of challenges in her life and these positive experiences are a tremendous boost to her self-esteem.

We try to minimize days taken away from school because we know that our daughter tends to get sick often. She had RSV when she was 3 weeks old, and as a result, she has recurrent intermittent asthma -- basically, when she gets hit with an ordinary cold or flu, it attacks her lungs and makes it nearly impossible for her to breathe. She will typically be forced to do breathing treatments every 2 hours for a week or more. We try to keep her going to school as much as possible during these times, but often the school sends her home because her coughing and wheezing is distracting in the classroom. (She has missed 10 days so far this year -- of these days, 8 ½ were sick days. Of those days, 5 ½ days were times when the school sent her home.) I don't want to send her to school when I know that she should probably be home in bed, but I don't feel that I have a choice. I also don't feel that I should be penalized when the school chooses to send her home, but under the new truancy bill, it seems that there would be no designation for times when the school said that she could not be there. An absence is an absence in the eyes of this law.

This and other family challenges is why we are struggling with the new truancy law. I can't imagine what our lives will look like if LB 463 passes and put even more force behind this law. My husband and I are seriously considering either pulling our daughter from the public school system and homeschooling her or maybe even moving across the river to Iowa. Neither is a preferred choice, but if LB 463 passes and makes the situation worse, I'm not sure we have a lot of other options.

The Radloff Family
Elkhorn School District
2010/2011 School Year

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