Friday, March 25, 2011

A Case Against Compulsory Attendance and Education

So I've given it some thought, and I've decided that I'm against compulsory attendance. At least in high school. I even thought it out so much that I developed a kin of plan to help end compulsory attendance and some of the effects of it. I will try to avoid the slipper slope and straw men and all that, but no promises. This is just what I think to be best for the country as a whole.

To start off this plan, you have to realize something from the get go. Some kids will be left behind. That is a big pill for many people to follow, but it's for the best. I graduated high school a year and a half ago. Trust me. It won't make much of a difference. Also know that I am NOT suggesting that under-performing kids should be denied an education. I think everyone should get an education and do the best they can. This will be explained further later in the article.

Ok, so first point: compulsory attendance should end after middle school. At a bare minimum, a person should be able to read, write, and do simple math. If they can't do that, they cant do anything. In order to drop out, a kid should have a 6th grade reading level (which is the level most newspapers are written at), and be able to do basic algebra (so they can at least balance their checkbooks). All this can be achieved by the 8th grade.

Second point: attendance should be completely voluntary in high school. That does not mean that a student should only show up on test day. That means that a kid should be allowed to make the decision to not get a high school diploma after the 8th grade. I am in college right now and the atmosphere is completely different than it was in high school. In high school, no one wanted to be there. As such, no one wanted to work. Now, in college, most people (and I'd say just about all after freshman year) want to be there. The work ethic is high, people want to learn, and overall it is a better learning environment. If a kid doesn't want to be there, why should they bring down the rest of the students? Let them go and get a job. Let the other students move on.

Third point: the country as a whole will benefit from this. Of course the first argument is "But now less people will be educated! With less educated people the country will suffer!" Yeah, that's crap. Yes, there will be less of educated people. However, those who are educated will be even more educated than they are now. Let me tell you about a real life example. My college has Honors courses for Honors students. As it was explained to me, and as I later saw with my friends in regular courses, there is little difference between regular and Honors classes. The real difference is pacing. There is less dead weight from the students that don't want to be there and the ones that don't want to learn. Without the dead weight, the material is covered faster and more in depth. Why can't this be translated into high schools?

Also, look at it in the form of funding. Many students will drop out because they do no have to be there. I went to school with a guy that was LOSING money because he was in school. He was a trained and certified air condition and heating tech, and he couldn't go to work because of school. That was a rare positive example, but then look at it like this: how many of us went to high school with people that didn't want to and never will make something of themselves or even use their diploma? They'll be gone with no compulsory attendance. This saves the school system money. Less students means fewer kids to pick up in buses, fewer lunches to serve, fewer teachers needed, and fewer books to buy and replace.

And the fewer kids in the system will lead to a better education for the remaining kids. If the kids are there, they obviously want to be there and have a drive to be there. Thus, it will be easier for them to learn and be a better learning environment. There will be smaller classes sizes too, so if a student needs help, they can get more personalized attention. As stated above, less teachers will be needed. So how will the school board decide which teachers to keep and which to lose? This plan calls for a performance test. The best performing teachers, rather than the senior teachers, will be retained, while the rest cut. This forces the teachers to excel in having the students learn the material, rather than having job security just because they taught Grandma Moses.

So what about the kids who decide not to go to school? There certainly will be a lot of them. In order to answer this, we must get into supply and demand. There will be a huge supply of uneducated, unskilled workers. What do we do with them? Two things:

#1: Trade schools. Yes, they didn't want to be in school in the first place. This will appeal more to the people that realize how bad it is to work manual labor (yes, manual labor sucks. There is absolutely no way that you can convince me otherwise). They can be trained to do tiling, dry walling, air conditioning, plumbing, and all those other jobs that you pay other people to do for a lot of money because they can do it better than you ever can. That's why they make good money. Of course, they will have to pay to go to these trade schools, but as long as student loans can cover it and they can get jobs to pay them off, it's not much different from going to college, except they start working sooner.

#2: Manual Labor. This will be where most people that choose not to go to school will end up. Remember the industrial revolution? Prepare for a repeat. With so many unskilled workers in the work force, eventually minimum wage will be lowered, benefits will be cut, and unemployment pay will be a thing of the past. Sounds horrible, right? Look at the big picture. The America (the country I've been talking about for you international readers) will become more competitive in the international economy. Many workers, low pay (comparatively), few benefits for workers, and lower taxes because Uncle Sam doesn't have to dole out so much money for unemployment and other federal benefits is highly appealing to many corporations, which is why so many things are made in China. Believe it or not, this benefits workers too. With many companies to work for all of a sudden, they have more choices of where to work, and companies will have to keep pay a little high and offer some benefits to attract and retain workers. And workers will have to work hard to keep their jobs (because an unskilled laborer is easy to replace), making them more productive.

So in short, without compulsory attendance in high school, kids who stay in school will get a better education and thus get better jobs and more pay, while those who choose not to go to school will ultimately get stepped on, but for the greater good. It's not a clean or perfect solution, but it's one that helps everyones as a whole.


Anonymous said...

You're a moron. You are basically talking about creating a caste system. I know you think you're pretty smart cause you passed your Freshman year of college but you aren't. Go through your work and look for the multiple misspellings. After that, think to yourself what it would be like to have parents that are wage slaves. You probably wouldn't be able to finish high school because you would have to get a job to help survive.

Also, lowering the minimum wage? You really are a fucking idiot. You can barely survive off the minimum wage now.

Every Day said...

I don't think I can agree with you on that. :(

10swords said...

Anon: I know I'm not very smart. I apologize for the misspellings, those were honest mistakes. And I agree with most everything you said after that. I know a smarter populace is a better populace (if you look at the rest of the blog, I make that point sometimes). The point of the article was to present a counter arguement to make you think. I succeeded it looks like :)

Every Day: I hope no one agrees with me!

Anonymous said...

Holy shit. Every time you update, it's more fucking ignorant bullshit from the mouth of a self-important, ignorant child. Nobody cares about you or your opinions. Just shut the fuck up already.

10swords said...

Anon: Thanks for repeatedly visiting the site! :)

Anonymous said...

i agree. everyone should be able to read. but beyond that, i don't think school attendance should be required.

Al Benson Jr. said...

Your idea of no compulsory attendance in high school should be carried through to all other grades also. Please read the latest article on which deals with this subject. If you want background on the history of public education and why govt. schools are a bad idea check out two books which you can probably get on They are both written by Sam Blumenfeld and are titled respectively "Is Public Education Necessary?" and "The NEA--Trojan Horse in American Education." These will give you background info on the origins and reasons for public schools that you will seldom find in the history books.

Anonymous said...

As a high school teacher who is currently undergoing treatment for depression brought on primarily by the behaviour of students who just don't want to be at school, I too question the validity of compulsory education. It is a social and emotional minefield and something that has been entrenched in modern society but I know we can do better for our young people
(of every degree of intellectual capability). Thoughtful and sincere debate without recourse to abuse or recrimination is a good start.