State must commit to getting kids into school

Critical thinking is one of the skills educators seek to instill in young people. Perhaps we adults need remedial classes on the subject, to judge by some public school policies.

Take how we handle truancy, for example: In too many school systems, the reaction to a student with a long record of being absent from class is to suspend him. That’ll teach him!

Actually and obviously, it will not teach the truant student anything to be kicked out of school – except, perhaps, that trying to find any logic in some rules is an exercise in futility.

Some legislators want to change that in Ohio. A bill already passed by the House of Representatives would require schools to take more expeditious, effective action in truancy cases. The measure is such a clearly good idea that it passed the House by a vote of 92-1.

Before truant students’ cases could be sent to court, school systems would have to do all in their power to get the youngsters back on the right track. That would include early notices to parents that their children are missing school, along with better “diversion” and intervention programs.

One key is that school systems would be encouraged to continue working with truant students and their parents as long as educators believe there is any hope of success. Only when all else fails would their cases be sent to juvenile court.

This is not a kid-gloves approach to the problem. If anything, it is a realization that some schools give up on truant children too easily.

State officials should monitor the new approach closely, because ensuring young people are in class has to be the very foundation of any education improvement initiative.