A state senator's idea that we should end compulsory education in Utah is being met with both criticism and support.
Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, wrote a blog post last week calling out the compulsory education laws in Utah, saying "some parents act as if the responsibility to educate, and even care for their child, is primarily the responsibility of the public school system."
"As a result, our teachers and schools have been forced to become surrogate parents, expected to do everything from behavioral counseling, to providing adequate nutrition, to teaching sex education, as well as ensuring full college and career readiness."
Osmond instead encourages a change in education culture that encourages choice as opposed to force.
Critics, including Utah education officials, say that the idea would put already-vulnerable students further at risk.
Utah school board member Tami Pyfer says children who come from low-income homes and whose parents put a low priority on education would suffer the most. Salt Lake City school board member Michael Clara says it would wreak havoc on minorities and create a subclass of people prone to a life of crime.
State School Board member Leslie Castle said that ending compulsory education would also remove a safety net in catching problems these children face. She said because of compulsory education, teachers and educators are typically the first to see evidence of trouble at home, from abuse to malnourishment. Without the requirement to attend school, or if nonacademic services were removed from the public education system, it would be necessary for the state to create some other form of publicly funded service to fill that role, Castle said.
Right now, Utah's state law requires parents to make sure children under 14 don't miss more than five days of school a year.
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