To: David Lifferth,
Date: Wed Mar 02 08:13:12 MST 2016
Dear Representative Lifferth,
I am unsure of the motivation behind the introduction of SB45, but I am concerned that its intended goals will not be achieved. By removing the consequences outlined in 53A-11-101.5, a green light is being given to parents to keep their children out of school for no justifiable reason. If a parent does not feel that a public education is best for their child, there are provisions outlined in 53A-11-102 that will allow them the opportunity to seek an alternate path to education for their child so that the child does not fall through the cracks.
As the spouse of an educator, my concerns for my wife's classroom are twofold. First, when children miss an inordinate number of days, they do not learn what is being taught in the classroom and, consequently, when the students go to take the state-mandated end-of-level tests, they are unacquainted with the material and perform poorly on these examinations. This poor performance then reflects on the educator, and under the evaluation system has real consequences for them with respect to their employment. The irony is that while my wife is being held responsible for educating the children assigned to her, this bill gives her no way to guarantee that the students will be in the classroom for her to teach, yet she is still liable for (somehow) making sure that these students learn the material.
I just wanted to weigh in on this issue as you consider it in committee today. If you are interested, I would be glad to cite research documenting the correlation between school attendance and test results, or share with you stories of students in my wife's classroom who have missed over 20 days of the 88 held so far this year (which pales in comparison to one of her fellow-teachers who has a student who has missed over 40 days because the mother "doesn't want to fight them about going to school" or another situation where the mother who regularly keeps her 5th grader home to babysit the younger children) to further illustrate my case for opposing this bill.
Before voting to move SB45 out of committee, I strongly urge you to consider the full ramifications of these changes to the code and either vote it down or amend it to guarantee that parents are held accountable for educating their children, either in the public forum or in another location of the parent's choosing.
Thank you for your time,