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Working Teens Should Not be Forced Back to Public School

Public school is an inefficient and coercive institution that often prevents working teens from getting a jump-start on their careers.

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By T. Fair | United States

A recent article in The Daily Bell relates that truancy interventionists in Xenia, Ohio, are meeting with students. Regardless of where the kids are, the officers track them down to determine why they are missing classes. Jenny Adkins, the school’s supervisor of student services, even said: “She has gone to work sites before if she knows a kid is working.” 

Ironically, the name of the school is “Greene County Career Center”. That’s right, a so-called career center is prohibiting students from getting a jump start on their working lives. In other words, the school is training students for their jobs by not letting them have jobs.

Nothing says career preparation like “educators” not letting the students they advise actually work. This is a horrible idea. You know what prepares teens and young adults for their careers? Actually having job experience.

Denying young people the right to choose for themselves is not just hypocritical and foolish, because this is a career center, but it is a bad idea for all schools in general. Isn’t the claimed purpose of schools all around America, if not the world, to “prepare the next generation for the real world?” Well, participating in the real world will likely require you to work. A teenager getting a job before adulthood is a first big taste of that “real world.”

This protocol also treats young adults like small children. This, of course, is counter-productive, because part of the real world is also making decisions for yourself. Schools should be teaching students about individualism, that students should always think for themselves and take action accordingly. That personal morality should outweigh law. But, it’s not like society wants a generation of thinkers; they want a generation of workers. John D. Rockefeller said it himself, “I don’t want a nation of thinkers. I want a nation of workers.”

The public school system, in enforcing this policy, is largely focused on monetary gain. A school’s funding from the state is based on attendance, or student enrollment, also known as membership. An article from KPBS by Joanne Faryon reports on the cost of students missing school, using San Diego County as an example.

“The attendance-based funding formula puts a bounty on the heads of students, forcing schools to meticulously track their absences – placing dollar amounts next to their names. Number 114 is one of 358 students on a list of the chronically absent at Lincoln High. A student is considered chronically absent if he or she misses 10 percent or more of the 180-day school year.” Joanne writes, soon following up with, “On average, a student with perfect attendance is worth about $5,230 to a school district in San Diego County. Every day missed reduces that amount by about $29. It may not sound like much, but the multiplier effect can be financially staggering for some schools.”

According to the article, a total of 473 students total were chronically absent in Ramona Unified School district, which contains approximately 5,700 students.

School attendance should always be voluntary. It should be a parent’s decision to enroll their children in a school, and their responsibility to have them attend class. Schools claim to prepare kids for the real world, yet this is one of the ways they fail to do so.

In the real world, there will be no truancy interventionists to drag them back to work. It is not the role of the government to tell someone what will be a good choice for them. If a young person is happy to spend their time working, that should be their choice. Many people who spend their young lives studying still end up lonely, unhappy and worn out.

Who should decide if the path of public education is the right one? It’s not the government, but the individual. The opportunity to succeed, to fail, and anything in between, while learning from successes and failures, is the undeniable right of every individual.

Mandatory public education is, by definition, an infringement on individual liberty. This is not to mention other issues like imbecilic curricula or the state’s agenda seeping into the classroom. As stated previously, 473 out of 5,700 students in a San Diego school district were chronically absent, which is over eight percent of all students. Not all of them, of course, were at work. Students are still going to be missing from class, regardless of truancy laws and the people who enforce them.

Looking at comparative international test scores, fraudulent standardized testing, and the morality of the public sector, it is clear that mandatory public schooling is a joke. Perhaps it’s time for a change.


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