Beginning each August, a complaint is heard throughout the nation as back-to-school ads infiltrate our homes through commercials on television and ads in newspapers.
School seems inevitable and inescapable, as it has been required of children to attend since about 1917 in the United States.
Before 1852, school was not mandatory and was seen as on opportunity rather than an obligation. Now, the question is arising again on whether school should be mandatory or not.
Sen. Aaron Osmond, of Utah, brought this issue to light recently in a blog post, calling for a "close look at repealing compulsory education."
Osmond claimed that "some parents act as if the responsibility to educate, and even care for their child, is primarily the responsibility of the public school system. As a result, our teachers and schools have been forced to become surrogate parents, expected to do everything from behavioral counseling, to providing adequate nutrition, to teaching sex education, as well as ensuring full college and career readiness."
Many may argue against this proposal, saying that it will result in greater drop-out rates for Utah, for the students who do not desire to stay in school. However, Osmond, a Republican from South Jordan, has proposed that we "restore the parental right to decide if and when a child will go to public school," thus creating greater freedom for the parent to do what is best for the child, rather than being forced to send the child under the threat of serious consequences.
Let's take a look at both sides of this issue.
With optional schooling, the teacher can focus on the students who are there. The measure would also reduce class sizes, which is a critical issue in Utah. This allows greater emphasis on areas that intrigue students. Test scores may rise as well on end-of-level testing due to the increased attention that the teacher is able to provide.
Schools would also have a greater budget with voluntary schooling. Utah is consistently ranked as the state with the lowest spending per pupil. Having smaller class sizes would allow greater spending per pupil, thus enhancing the education of the students desiring to be in the classroom.
Without mandatory schooling, we face the risk of having a large number of students not under adult supervision who possess too much free time, which could lead to an increase in the crime rate. As some students would not be employed in jobs or other forms of training or education, they face the risk of turning to criminal activity out of idleness.
Students would also limit many of their career options by not attending school. Most adult jobs require a minimum of a high school diploma or its equivalent. Without a high school degree, the ability of a young person to find a job to provide for themselves will be greatly reduced. This, in turn, will put increased pressure on our nation's welfare system.
In addition, many students are not mature enough to make a decision that will have lifelong consequences. As Ryan Jones, a teacher at Mountain High School, said, "Several younger high school students come to our school not fully realizing the importance of high school education to the quality of their life. However, as they continue to come to school and put forth effort and find success, they've often returned to us as seniors determined to graduate high school and continue on to college."
Utah and the rest of America have tough decisions to make when it comes to public education. Do we strive to educate everyone, motivated or not? Or do we concentrate our efforts on those who seem to be more dedicated?
Both choices have benefits and negatives consequences, and we need to carefully consider each side before coming to a conclusion.
Meghan Jones is a senior at Bonneville High School. She enjoys writing, photography and hanging out with friends. Contact her at email@example.com.