OGDEN -- The president of the American Federation for Teachers in Utah says a state senator's proposal to eliminate compulsory education ignores some stark realities about families in the district in which he teaches.
Brad Asay, an art teacher in the Ogden School District who heads the AFT in Utah, said Sen. Aaron Osmond's call for an end to compulsory education misses some of the realities he sees in the classroom every day. The biggest reality the proposal misses is pressure on families to get by, Asay said. He said the measure would hurt economically distressed families.
"Many of my older students are required to come home from school to cook meals, to clean the house, take care of the younger siblings and wait up for mom and dad to get home, so they can warm up dinner for them," Asay said. "If compulsory education ended in Utah, I'm sure that many students from situations such as these would choose to stay home and not attend school after their elementary grades."
Osmond, R-South Jordan, opined on the Senate website that some parents act as if the responsibility to educate and care for their child is the responsibility of the local school district. He said schools and teachers have become surrogate parents, expected to fill many roles parents should assume.
From his vantage point, Asay said, the proposal would also affect middle-class families with two parents who work out of the home in an attempt to provide their kids with a college education.
"If children are involved in many extracurricular activities and parents want to be supportive, students usually end up doing homework while eating dinner and before the ball game, dance lessons, etc. This is the reality. Taking away compulsory education will benefit those that economically can afford it," Asay said.
Asay is not alone in his criticism of the proposal. Earlier this week, several officials from Davis School District said parents do have the responsibility for their kids' education, but it's not affected by mandatory education.
Osmond, who chaired the Senate's Education Committee, said he is trying to change the culture of education to being one of choice.