By ANDREW SIMMONS
There is an issue in high school attendance: tardiness.
There are many reasons students will not show up to school on time, as well as why students should be able to excuse their own tardies.
Students may be dealing with mental health issues at home of which they don’t feel comfortable disclosing with school staff.
They could be living with depression and having trouble finding the motivation to get out of bed.
They could have obsessive-compulsive disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or other disorder, any of which can affect what time a student wakes up and what time they are ready for school in the morning.
There is an assumption that all students have a way to get to school on time, but many students have compromised means of transportation and or live a further distance from the school than most students
A majority of high school students do not have their learner’s permit/driver’s license and many students or their families also do not have cars. A few examples of why students may not have access to a license or car include not being able to afford it, not being permitted by their guardian to do so, or simply being too afraid and not wanting to drive.
Some students have to bike safely up and down hills and through car-busy highways and roads, take city busses or even use costly ride-share apps.
Schools tend to neglect the fact that many students have many siblings, all in different age ranges, attending schools with different starts times, as well as possibly living in a one guardian household.
It would not be unreasonable to accept the verity of limited time in the morning. With this in mind, there is the challenge of trying to get every child in that family admitted to school on time every single day. No matter how prepared and organized a large family may be, there can always be unexpected obstacles like a traffic jam, or a type of mechanical error with their vehicle.
Are students responsible and trustworthy enough to excuse their own tardies?
While it is understandable for teachers and staff to be skeptical about the very real possibility of students abusing the ability to call in sick, it is also important to note that the trust between students and teachers is generally strained due to prejudice from teachers towards students that are late or miss school frequently.
More than often, instead of trying to figure out why their students are missing school hours, the teacher will give the student unneeded and discouraging discipline. Students that get punished for something they had no control over may be less inclined to take responsibility the next time they could have control over their situation.
Many students, contrary to many adult beliefs, have very real and very complicated issues. Some of these problems, students might not be willing to share with teachers, especially in front of their peers during class time, which is more than often the time and place teachers choose to confront late students. This is a very disconcerting and uncomfortable situation that is far too familiar to many young adults in highs school. One could argue that a more appropriate time and setting to address the tardines of a student would be after class when the student is no longer occupied or in the presence of an audience of their peers.
Teachers may find that in listening to their students, they will also find understanding. Sympathy for students can go a very long way, and they may be less inclined to lie about their whereabouts, or wander the school halls with meandering minds.
The denigration of students’ personal issues is a disease among schools. The allowance of young adults to be trusted and involved with the responsibility of attendance issues may lead to a more adamant will to attend school and attend on time, of course keeping the issue of transportation in mind.
Ultimately, trusting the judgment of high school students for calling in to excuse missing class time in advance could gradually diminish tardiness. Allowing students the responsibility to excuse their own tardies may motivate an initiative in students to protect that responsibility by not abusing it.