From the Superintendent’s Seat
Missing School Means Missing Out
By Dr. Carole Hankin
As the superintendent of a public school district, I am often asked by parents whether it is acceptable for children to miss school for travel or family functions. Obviously there are circumstances when a child being absent from school is not only excusable, such as in the case of a funeral or other family emergency, but also a prudent decision. Being ill cannot be helped, and it is always better not to bring contagious diseases into the classroom.
Each year, however, there are children whose families schedule vacations when school is in session. The plans may be the result of parents’ and children’s conflicting schedules, or an attempt to get a head start on other travelers before a recess. These may seem like good reasons to make an exception; it is my belief, however, that parents would be wise to reconsider any trip that interferes with a child’s regular school schedule. There is good reason for adherence to attendance policies. In most cases, these absences are considered unexplained ones.
Teachers and administrators can vouch for the often intense level of preparation and scheduling that goes into planning for a school year. A curriculum is heavily influenced by standards and requirements issued by state and federal governments; putting one together is a collaborative effort among many people. As a result, there is a distinct and precise rhythm in the lessons and activities of a school day. Disrupting that rhythm can interrupt a lesson plan for days or even weeks following.
Absences, whether excused or not, can put children at a disadvantage when returning to class. Consider how much a student can miss in a single day out of school: important or exciting lessons, test preparation, team-building activities or school-wide events. Missing lessons and tests can make it difficult for some students to catch up with the rest of the class. As children get older and enter high school, many do not want to miss school or their activities. This is a decision that should be made with their input and in some instances discussion with the teacher.
Have fun on vacation! #
Carole Hankin is the superintendent of the Syosset School District in New York.