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Students missing school can hurt entire community

Staff Report • May 21, 2012 at 8:48 AM

Despite what Tom Sawyer and his buddy Huck Finn might think, playing hooky from school is a serious matter. That’s the message officials in Tennessee are trying to send to both truants and their parents.

Judges and educators want parents who allow their children to repeatedly miss school to know they will also be in trouble and could face more than a trip to the principal’s office.

Under the state’s truancy law, parents who continue to let their kids miss school can see jail time. It’s a no-nonsense approach for dealing with school truancy that makes parents accountable for the actions of their children.

Juvenile Court judges here and elsewhere across Tennessee are finally treating truancy as the serious problem it is. Taxpayers should applaud these efforts. Truancy can lower the test scores of an entire school system. Missing students also means missing state and federal dollars for local schools. That’s why it’s time for parents, educators, lawmakers and judges to work together to deal with this issue.

It’s good to see local judges getting tough on both students who routinely skip class and their parents who may be aiding and abetting this behavior.

Truancy often leads to kids dropping out of school, and this is a problem that can negatively impact an entire community. The education level of the work force is an essential driver in a community’s economic development. What company — searching for smart, motivated employees — would want to locate in an area with a low high school graduation rate?

It’s a shame that some parents don’t appreciate just how important discipline and education are to their children.

It’s also a shame when the courts have to step in and force parents to do the right thing. Many of these irresponsible parents were probably once truants themselves.

Hopefully, stricter enforcement of the state’s truancy law will help break this dreadful cycle.

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