SALT LAKE CITY — Compulsory education laws have resulted in parents disengaging themselves from the responsibility to oversee the education of their children and have caused schools to falter under the burden of being all things to all people.
Those points are among the arguments made by Sen. Aaron Osmond, R-South Jordan, in an article posted Friday on the blog of the Utah State Senate, in which Osmond called for the end of compulsory education in the state.
"Some parents act as if the responsibility to educate, and even care for their child, is primarily the responsibility of the public school system," Osmond wrote. "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 wrote further that in the current state of public education, teachers do not receive meaningful support from parents, while at the same time parents become frustrated that schools are not able to meet the individual needs of their children. Osmond told the Deseret News that there is a need to shift the public mindset to viewing learning as an opportunity as opposed to an obligation, while also reinforcing the idea of liberty and choice.
State School Board member Leslie Castle said she agrees that schools have become burdened with nonacademic responsibilities, like daily nutrition, basic health screenings and behavioral counseling. But the reality of Utah's increasingly diverse population is that many children require those services.
"We live in a society where some children require help beyond the ability of their parents," she said. "Those students don’t deserve to be punished, they don’t deserve to be disqualified."
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.