Every year, when summer break draws near, a stretch limo pulls up to my kids’ charter school, loads up a gaggle of super excited kiddos while their envious peers look on, and drives them a few blocks down the road to a pizza parlor where they are fed lunch. These winners are the recipients of the most coveted award at their school. Honestly, what could possibly top a limo ride and free pizza?
So what do these kids have to accomplish to win this fabulous and glamorous prize? Do they have to be the top academic performers in their class? No, those kids get a certificate and sometimes a medal. Did they turn in 100% of their homework? No, that industrious attitude doesn’t get formally recognized. Well, perhaps they are the students who have shown the most improvement over the year. Nope, not even close. The limo kids are the few who have managed to not miss a single minute of school. They call it Extreme Perfect Attendance. To win this award not only must you show up every day, you can never arrive late or leave early. No sick days, no doctor’s appointments, no family emergencies.
I wish I were joking, but alas, I am not.
Let’s analyze this a little more. To accomplish this incredible feat, I submit that these winners fall into one of three categories:
A) The Super Immune System Category. These amazing kids just never get sick. I’m happy for them. It must be nice to be able to lick the plastic balls in the McDonalds playground, share your best friend’s bubble gum, or put your mouth all over the drinking fountain and never have to suffer the consequences. But the bottom line is that their impenetrable immune systems require no effort on their part.
B) The Working Parents/Guardians Category. These kids get sick but their parents/guardians simply can’t miss work so they load their feverish kids up on a cocktail of Motrin, cough syrup, and Zofran and haul them to school anyway. These kids actually deserve the limo ride.
I think you catch my drift. This is truly the most asinine award a school could give its students. So why does the administration pull out all the stops to make this the most coveted prize among the K-5th graders? It’s all about money. Better attendance translates into more dollars for the school budget.
That fact alone is shameful, but what bothers me even more is that this strategy is just plain bass ackwards. If you really think about it, those category B and C kids are actually causing more absences by showing up to school sick and infecting the rest of their classmates. They sit in class for a couple days coughing all over their friends, and the next week twelve kids (including mine) are out for the entire week. Do the math. It boggles my mind that the administration encourages this sort of behavior--especially with the current enterovirus outbreak, which is rapidly spreading across the country and sending all the asthmatic kids to the ICU.
I know I’m not the only one who gets this. We need to talk some sense into our school administrators. The Perfect Attendance Award needs to be changed into the Never Came to School Sick Award.
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