Anna Schoenfelder says YES: The policy encourages lies
Hidden in a gargantuan metal bureau in the attendance office are Blazers' dirty little secrets—literally hundreds of LC appeals, stacked and bound by super-size rubber bands. The sheer volume of LC appeals—the number of students that challenge the policy—should be a wake-up call to the administration that the system is flawed.
A significant number of those in danger of losing credit successfully appeal, but some students have found a way to cheat their way to countless excused absences. Last year, two Blair seniors devised a system where they would turn in a forged absence note with their own cell phone number as the parent contact. Then, they changed their cell phone voice mail to mimic their parents' voice. When the attendance secretary called to confirm the note, she would leave a message intended for the parent on the phony voicemail. One of the seniors estimates that she received 18 or 19 absences in the first semester of her junior year while still maintaining a 3.5 GPA and credit in all of her classes.
Even more common are students whose parents sign false notes in order to get an absence excused. According to an informal Silver Chips survey taken on Sept 8 during 5B of 100 Blazers, 65 percent have had a parent lie for them on an absence note. This shows all too clearly what the LC policy has accomplished at Blair—hundreds of parent and student lies.
According to social studies teacher Kevin Moose, teachers bear most of the unproductive burden that the LC policy creates. "It's a lot of work and effort for a non-problem," says Moose. In addition to the time spent by teachers keeping track of student absences, attendance secretary Roxanne Fus and several other assistants work long hours to process the hundreds of absence notes, LCs and appeals that come through the Blair attendance system. The MCPS LC policy is expensive both in terms of work hours and teacher morale.
According to Moose, if a student doesn't want to attend class, no policy will make them succeed. "High school kids are old enough to make the effort on their own," Moose says. Staff members have the responsibility to teach their students, not force them to learn.
According to the MCPS website, the school board has recently discussed changing or eliminating the LC policy. One alternative to the LC policy is having a set number of absences, whether excused or unexcused, which each student is allowed before they are failed unequivocally for the course.
The LC policy as it stands now is a hollow set of rules that drains energy from the school system and gives students the impression that attendance is more important than class performance. Instead of maintaining ineffective policies, MCPS should focus on staffing dedicated teachers and decreasing class size in order to keep kids interested and in class. Meanwhile, the policy should make students responsible for their own attendance.
Anna Schoenfelder. 04 real. Anna is a j-j-j-junior in CAP. She has a litterbox and it is very green. Her favorite activities include spinning, agitating, and mincing. She feels very prickly about the stirrup that she owns. She hopes one day to taste very good, and perhaps … More »