The Victorian government is looking at fining parents for unacceptable days of non-attendance at school. The fine has been talked about being $70 per day for every day over 5 absent days without a valid reason. A ‘valid reason’ is having a medical certificate if sick (so in essence, the government is taking money off a parent to pay for a doctor’s fee) or a family event like a funeral or family illness that makes it impossible for a parent to take the child or and from school. The concept came around to stop children not attending because of sleeping in, going shopping or family travel. The Tasmanian government have already have it as law to fine families $260 a day for truancy if a court order has been ordered, however with the changes that affect the single parent payment since the start of the year, this means some disadvantaged families have to use the oldest child to babysit the younger children while the mother goes out to work, because child care fees aren’t affordable. It truly is a concern that the government want to fine people for defying regulated education, yet isn’t there more to an educated life than sitting behind the books?
For instance, isn’t the child who stays behind to look after a younger sibling… doesn’t that child learn the art of responsibility, child rearing and caring, understanding behaviour, the art of domesticated chores including cooking, cleaning and keeping a home sanitary. This child uses her mathematics to measure the right formula for the baby or cutting her Vegemite toast into eighths, she learns time management skills while setting sleep times for the baby, she learns to read stories creating inflections in her voice to help her capture the attention of the baby which helps her with her public speaking and confidence. She might even go down the street with the baby in a stroller to get some supplies, so she’ll use her navigation skills to get herself to the shops, but also her mathematical skills to create a budget and spend the money she has for supplies wisely. All these are life skills, most that can’t be learnt in a classroom.
And how about family travel. Can’t that be a more valuable experience than anything else in a classroom? To have first hand knowledge of different cultures, languages, sights and sounds from a different country, or even a different part of your home country so that your child gets an understanding of exactly how life really is outside the four walls of home and the classroom. Travel can give you so much more than any text book or Google search. It was a deciding factor for me not to put my children into a private school because any travel outside of school holidays is unacceptable, yet travel in school holidays is excessive up with their school fees, and limiting. You can’t go away for more than 2-3 weeks at a time, unless it’s over Christmas… and that’s just insane.
I understand that a formal education is important, as long as the child is taught in the way he or she needs. And I am adamant that my children go to school if they are coughing and spluttering, but draw the line if they are vomiting or have a fever. And I completely disagree with wagging school, as it defies both parents and the education system. But to fine parents for not attending for the sake of a decision they made which they felt was a better decision for their child, is ludicrous. A parent has the last say of what their child does or does not do.
The Education Department states that if a child is enrolled in a school, they are enrolled full time and thus must attend full time. I’ve had fights with the Education Department about seeking specialised tutoring for my youngest son because I have chosen to have him attend anything between 3-7 hours a week outside the ‘full time registered school’ that he attends, and that apparently is ‘not allowed,’ unless I have the principal’s consent (consent, the principal will not give because it shows her that her school has failed my son by not providing the individual learning plan he needs to grow in his learning).
So why is there so much politics in giving a child an education? When did the teachers become administrators and not educators? It’s just wrong that they are wasting money on things that aren’t necessary like policies on truancy. They have probably spent more money on creating the policies than recuperating from defiant parents. As a parent, we all have rights to do what we feel right for our children, and I will be a defiant parent if I know in my heart I am doing what’s best for my children.