It’s agreed that over half of Española Valley High School students being absent 18 days before the fall semester ends is outrageous and unacceptable.
But what to do?
Española School District Superintendent Bobbie Gutierrez is understandably frustrated as are the few remaining counselors at the High School. Counsel staff was cut significantly because of budget issues after the across-the-board 6 percent raise drained District coffers.
Gutierrez and staff probably aren’t as frustrated with staff shortages as they are with the lack of parent buy-in when it comes to education. We’ve heard many superintendents at different schools lament that most Española parents simply do not value education.
The jackpot up the hill, family connections to state jobs and our incestuous politics make education a moot point in many parents’ minds. They wrongfully believe getting their babies jobs will help them on their path to adulthood. They couldn’t be more wrong. It teaches them that mommy and daddy will always take care of them, instead of teaching them to be responsible.
Allowing (often encouraging) a child to not attend school passes on this wrong attitude that school isn’t important. We hope the story of the “mother” taking her daughter out of school for a day to get a new cell phone is isolated, perhaps not true.
Electronic media rules today's children. Teaching the added lesson that driving to Santa Fe for a phone during school time is a good use of time is not good parenting.
Many High School students have as many as 40 or 65 days absent in this semester. There have been only about 80 days of instruction since school started in August. These students are probably now lost in their course work. Many will fail most of the classes they need to graduate.
High School Principal Victoria Gonzales’ answer is a truancy review board, composed of retired teachers. While students milled about outside the review board’s meeting room, parents were either at home or (hopefully) work.
Gonzales has half the picture correct. However, the students should be in class. The parents are the ones who should be dragged in front of a board. Basic parenting dictates children follow their parents’ lead.
We live in an area where people are rarely held accountable for their actions. From politicians to public entity administrators, coaches, bad teachers and students the consequences for failure to perform is slight.
In the private sector, a mistake can close a business, cause a layoff, decrease services. In the public sector it’s rarely even recognized. Children learn that. They learn it best from their parents.
A new message needs to be sent to truant students. It needs to come from their parents. For that to happen parents must participate in their child’s education. Quite simply, without parent involvement they are sentencing their children to a life of cashiering at Wal-Mart, a casino, McDonalds and a gas station.
You often hear parents saying they want something better for their children. Are they willing to put actions behind the wishes?