Last night my wife and I got a call from my parents who wanted to take my daughter in first grade to the Big Apple Circus which is currently in Boston. They were hoping to take her on an early release day, and have her be absent from school. My wife and I both love that all four grandparents make time to see our daughters and play an active role in their lives. However, we had to decline. We asked that instead they could take her at a time that does not interfere with her missing any instruction.
As a principal and as a parent I value instructional time to the highest degree. I am a firm advocate that if a child is not healthy to go to school they should of course stay home, get better and seek medical assitance if necessary. My wife, who is also an educator, shares this value as we both have seen the incredible instruction students regularly and constantly receive.
If you have not had the chance to read the book The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Friedman (New York Times Foreign Affairs Columnist), I highly recommend it. Students competing to get into colleges today are not just competing with other students from the United States but, students from a global stage. Furthermore, students graduating from college are competing for jobs not just with other graduates but, graduates from all over the world.
Children and human beings in general learn by receiving instruction and the more instruction we receive the more we learn. Students that have poor attendance and/or are frequently tardy often see this reflected in MCAS performance. The number of exposures students have to a subject or skills results in a higher degree of the material or knowledge of how to do a particular skill staying in students long term memory. In a recent JESPAR article, “Improving Attendance and Engagement in a San Diego High School” (March 2011: Journal of Education for Students At Risk :University of Louisville), Douglas Fisher, Nancy Frey, and Diane Lapp write, “Simply stated, it’s hard to learn when you’re not in school.”
Thank you so much to everyone in our Pine Glen Community for making every effort to ensure that students are not tardy and come to school if they are not sick. I can relate to how challenging this can be at times especially when a fun activity like the circus is involved.