Monday, February 13, 2012

Forced Seat Time vs. Quality School Time

The active and concerned mother who wrote this experience did not identify herself or daughter by name. Please understand that parents fear that their student will be retaliated against if they make their objections public. This is just one more sad fact of the contentious nature of the law.

I was told by the attendance clerk, in the district where my daughter was enrolled, that when the school pulls students out of class for school activities like field trips, band trips, athletics and other activities it is counted by the school district toward the 20 day maximum absences allowed in one year. Therefore, my daughter must now be concerned about participating in too many school activities/sporting activities that pull her out of her regular classes. If she does too many school activities she could end up with not enough "forced seat time" in her regular classes and be over the 20 day maximum and be reported to the county attorney for too many "excused" absences.

She knows she has to watch out for too many excused absences because she got a letter last year that she took very seriously. While we were told not to worry, she did not want to take the chance of missing another day of school to explain her active lifestyle to the county attorney. My daughter didn't even attend her granduncle's funeral this past month and has dropped out of her high school sport because of fear of being drawn into the county court system for excessive absences for family funerals and excused school activities. It would have been her 5th family funeral over the past 4 years. She is only 16. She should not have to worry about the government affecting her personal liberty to attend these events.

She is but one of thousands of school kids in this situation. Good kids should not be punished for "excessive absences" because they want to experience as many school activities and sports as their teachers and grades might support. Students are then effectively being told to participate in school/athletics but watch out not to too participate too much. Is this the true intent of the law passed by Nebraska lawmakers?

There needs to be an exclusion in the truancy law for excused school sponsored activities/club sporting activities for kids who are getting a 3.0 or better and being successful in school. Her teachers have effectively allowed her to do work on the Internet - like a home school student - and attend to her schoolwork after or before school to get all work done to make up for missed "forced seat time". Given her weighted 4.4 GPA, I believe she is being effectively educated and that a combination of "quality school time" and her teacher's assignments done on the internet that make up for any "forced seat time".

She does a club sport and sometimes misses school to compete and attend specialized camps in her sport. She is highly likely to compete this sport in college and get a scholarship for competing it. She holds 7 other AAU All American titles and over a dozen national championships medals in the various the club sports she has competed. She is typical of our Nebraska teens.

Excused school field trips and athletic activities are as valuable as "forced seat time" in a classroom as long as regular classroom class material as long as academic indicators demonstrate that the material is being learned. Therefore, excused school field trips and athletic activities should not be counted in the 20 day maximum of days out of school. She should be allowed to feel that she could participate in her school/athletic activities without risking being reported to the county attorney as an excused "excessively absent" student. A truant!

We ask that the law be altered to allow good students access to all their school and club sports have to offer. She only has 4 years to enjoy high school. She will never get another chance to enjoy all her excellent school has to offer, so naturally she wants to take advantage of as many school activities and classes as she might be qualified for given her AP gifted honors school schedule.

Nebraska has many talented students and she is but one of the many thousands of gifted students/kids in Nebraska. Let them participate in all that our great Nebraska schools have to offer in "quality school time" instead of "forced seat time."

~ Active Nebraska Mom

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