Volume 93, Issue 19

Thursday, September 30, 1999



Editorial Board 1999-2000

An expensive lesson to learn

An expensive lesson to learn

British parents won't have the option of playing hooky a new piece of legislation which could send them back to school to learn the word "accountability."

The British government recently decided to charge parents up to 2,500 pounds (about $6,000 Cdn) if their kids consistently don't show up for class. Finally, a piece of legislation that hits home on the concept of tough love.

In a country where law officials are world famous for their sunny disposition and big hats, it seems politicians have finally woken up to the fact that a child's education begins in the home, not in the conventional confines of a kindergarten classroom. And although the lessons learned at school are priceless, they are of no use if the child is not there to learn.

The legislation's goal is to make parents accountable for their children's actions and what opponents to the legislation fail to recognize is that persistent truancy is a symptom of a bigger problem – a parent's inability to keep tabs on their children.

A fundamental notion implied in this new law is the primacy of the family. Without a solid family life, a child is left defenseless to a range of social ills. As well, education and the educational system, while important to the individual students' overall quality of life, is also the backbone of any economy. Britain, it seems, is winning on all fronts if the new law has as much backbone as it purports.

While it would take a substantial effort to find someone who never skipped a day of high school, most would agree that choosing to make school a once or twice a week deal is detrimental to a young mind.

The first people to realize this should be parents and if they can't instill some responsibility in their kids to attend school, they should be held accountable. If not for the love of their kids, perhaps for the love of their chequebooks.

But what about parents who just don't care? Indeed, it could very well be the case that most of the kids who choose not to go to school have parents who simply let them get away with it. Behold the trap. The trap where a plan looks brilliant on paper but doesn't fly in the real world.

Nobody said it was going to be easy, but the argument could be made in a developed area of the world such as Britain, where a school system is readily and universally available, a child whose parents don't care about education are condemning the child to a possible lifetime of strife and regret.

Granted, this is a strong dose of medicine for the obviously ailing British school system, but desperate times call for desperate measures and the future of a generation should certainly justify such an action.

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Copyright The Gazette 1999