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Everything Counts

Time To Drop Mandatory Attendance

This resource is for those who struggle with attendance and those who track them down, punish them, incarcerate them, and then make them pray.

FI: “What's up with this? Now you're trying to kick kids out of school? Give me a break!"

DA: “Good morning! It's nice to be speaking with you - thanks for inviting me here today. This is a very important topic we're discussing… our children's education and the future of American society.”

FI: “Yeah, right. So why do you want to kick the kids out? Just tell me that!"

DA: “Well, let's start at the beginning. Here's the deal… here in California the government decided all kids have to attend school until age 18* whether they want to be in school or not... and now, many of the student spend all day doing their best to get kicked out! In many ways it's just a huge waste of time for many of the students, many of the parents, and many of the staff, not to mention the wast of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money."

CALIFORNIA EDUCATION CODE SECTION 48260(a): Any pupil subject to compulsory full-time education or to compulsory continuation education who is absent from school without valid excuse three days in one school year or tardy or absent for more than any 30-minute period during the school day without a valid excuse on three occasions in one school year, or any combination thereof, is a truant and shall be reported to the attendance supervisor or to the superintendent of the school district (48260-48273).

FI: “So Just discipline them! This ain't rocket science, you know."

DA: “We do discipline them. In fact, we spend most of our time disciplining them - leaving very little time to educate them.

FI: “You educators are such wimps… take the paddle to them… that'll get them in line.” 

DA: “Um, we're not allowed to 'take the paddle' to them… that's against the law.”

FI: “Not against God's Law."

DA: “We don't go by God's Law in the public schools.”

FI: “Yeah, that's the real problem, but we're diligently working on changing that.” 

DA: “I've noticed.”

FI: “It's the law as written that kids have to be in school… it's as simple as that."

DA: “But it's not that simple. I think that kids respond the same way that adults do when/if they're forced to be somewhere doing something they don't want to do. If the government put you in prison for seven hours a day for four years, would you be angry?

FI: “Of course I would be angry… but you're talking apples and oranges. I'm an adult.” 

DA: “So are high school students - they're young adults.”

FI: “Will you give it up? You know high school students are too young to make capable and responsible decisions, except when it comes to God and guns of course."

DA: “I thought you were the one saying to hold high expectations.”

FI: “We are the ones holding high expectations.” 

DA: “I guess 'high expectations' for one aren't necessarily 'high expectations' for another.”

FI: “Look, all you people in the schools do is moan and groan. Why don't you just do your jobs and babysit educate the students? You're the shrink, if the students are angry, why don't you just provide anger management or something? Why don't you diagnose them with oppositionality or defiance or something and get them on meds?"

DA: "Fine, I can sometimes help them manager their anger, but as long as they remain in their present dysfunctional environment, they're going to remain angry. And I don't blame them - they should be angry the way they are getting treated at times. And as far as I can tell, they've all already received some kind of diagnosis from someone and are already taking some kind of magic pill."

FI: “Okay, okay, calm down, you're out of control! Let's talk specifics. If a student isn't required to be in school, won't she or he just be sitting at home doing nothing?"

DA: “You mean just like they are now?”

FI: “You think too much."

DA: “I'd rather think too much than not enough.”

FI: “Okay, obviously this is one point - probably the only point - we can agree on. We all agree there's a nationwide attendance problem - that's why there have to be attendance officers, probation officers, truancy officers, security guards, juvenile courts, laws, police, judges, lawyers, boot camps, SARBs, metal detectors, counselors, shrinks, substance abuse programs, and special alternative schools, etc. Students don't want to go and parents don't want to send them - that's exactly why we need to pass laws to make them attend."

DA: “Please, please, please… I beg you to think about what you just said.”

“Can you hear the sound of hysteria?”

Billy Joe Armstrong, Green Day

FI: “It all boils down to the fact that if a student doesn't get a high school diploma, then s/he won't ever be able to get a job.”

DA: "Not true. The student can go down the road and enroll in a community college if she or he wants - with or without a diploma. Or they can get their GED. Or they can signup for an accredited internet diploma. Or they can drive trucks. Possibly they'll find a lucrative career in sports or entertainment. Or they could choose to be a plumber, electrician, welder, or find another trade. Maybe they'll become a massage therapist, manicurist, or sell hot dogs. Maybe some will continue to hang out in the hood with their homeys. In any event, a lot of them will choose to make a lot more money than you and I make."

FI: “You know, until things change, the military won't accept non-graduates for duty.”

DA: “Maybe that's why the students choose not to graduate.”

FI: “Not so fast, there! Billions of dollars of taxpayers' money go to providing a free and appropriate education for all students. You have to educate them whether they want to be educated or not."

DA: "Millions of taxpayers' dollars are spent tracking down students and dragging them into school against their will, in their pajamas in handcuffs, kicking and screaming - as soon as they are here, they act out until they finally get sent home, disrupting the education of many other students in the process, sometimes risking the safety of other students."

FI: “George Bush has directed you not to leave any child behind.”

DA: “George Bush ain't my boss. In fact, I'm his boss. Isn't government 'by the people'? Plus, I'm not leaving them behind... I'll work with any student who is present and wants to cooperatively work toward a positive goal."

FI: “I'm not going to listen to that liberal hocus-pocus. Here's the bottom line: even if students aren't learning and aren't attending and aren't graduating, they have to be in school - that's the law whether it works or not and whether you like it or not."

DA: “Change the law. You seem to be changing a lot of other laws. Why not this one?”

FI: “We only change the law when it is to our advantage.” 

DA: “I know.”

FI: “Come on, play the game. You know the goal is to provide jobs to a lot of people. If we, the legal system, the political system, and the educational system, can identify thirty percent of the public as "losers" or "criminals" or "dropouts," then my American way of life can continue. And wouldn't it be great if we could get that number up to fifty to seventy-five percent? Ninety-nine percent would be perfect, eh? Then we could increase the police force and... well, let me just remind you that President Bush has already made tremendous progress in expanding poverty."

DA: “I'm just saying I don't want to be part of that anymore.”

"When fifty percent of the population is in the pen, they're no longer criminals, they're the norm."

Bob Kerry, former Nebraska Senator

FI: “So resign! If you don't like it here, go back to where you came from. We don't want people like you in the schools - shrinks who are apparently anti-government, who won't slap a convenient label on a kid, who seemingly want to blame our beloved president, who won't be a willing participant to the plan. We don't want you here. We're trying to make America great again."

DA: “Who are 'we' anyway?"

FI: “Okay, I'm going to give you a few more chances to answer correctly. I'm certainly not going to leave children behind and, well, I don't want to be accused of leaving you behind either. Big business has noted that graduates are ill-prepared for the work force. What about that?"

DA: "They're correct. A high school degree is often worth less than one year to begin with. Businesses are the ones with the money, why don't they start their own entry level, intern, apprentice schools if it's so easy. Just remember, if we're going to play that game, they have to take everyone who shows up at their doorstep, just like we do, and they have to keep and pay all of their students for four years, whether they want to or not."

FI: "That doesn't seem fair."

DA: "Exactly."

FI: "You need to be reasonable. Students need to attend at least twelve years through high school so they can attain a fourth grade reading level. Research has shown a fourth grade reading level is necessary to succeed in the work force."

DA: "It takes twelve years to attain a fourth grade reading level?"

“We have a program designed to keep the American public so dumb they'll never be able to figure things out... it's called 'Education'.”

Dick Gregory, Human Rights Activist

FI: “The cops have to track down these longhairs, these juvenile delinquents, these truants, these bikers, these skaters, these punks, whenever they're out of school. If it was just fine for students to be out 'walking the streets,' a lot of people would be out of work. It would be much more difficult to identify the losers and the criminals. The government might start to lose a little control over the citizens. Remember, the primary purpose of public education is to identify the losers, criminals, and delinquents. Is that how you want the taxpayers' money spent, cops sitting not being able to insure the delinquents are in school, not being able to punish them, not being able to throw these kids in the slammer? Every kid identified provides another job in the prisons. Every kid identified puts another cop on the street. Every kid identified provides another big opportunity for Big Pharma. Every kid identified is one more we can save through prayer. We're not going to leave any child behind."

DA: “Um....”

FI: “You're just not thinking, Don. The Senate and the House, including Republican and Democrats, all agreed that No Child Shall Be Left Behind."

DA: “Then maybe they should start their own school.”

FI: “You just don't get it. I'm only going to say this one more time. George Bush has mandated that No Child Shall Be Left Behind, and he's tired of you educators being hypocrites and bigots, and that's a quote! Frankly, I'm tired of it too. Got it?"

DA: “Um yes sir."

UPDATE AUG 1st, 2011: Remember the original intent of NCLB was to destroy the evil public schools and start a private, religious-based, voucher system for the rich. You get to decide if the goal has been met or not.

FI: “All you want to do is complain.” 

DA: “Duh. There's a lot to complain about. In your business, if someone doesn't perform, they get fired. You advocate that if a teacher doesn't perform, s/he should get fired (a concept with which I fully agree), but you're saying if a student isn't performing, we should just let them stay for four or five more years - whoops, I mean make them stay."

“Everything wasn't meant to be all right.”

Billy Joe, Green Day

FI: “So, all this you're saying is quite obviously a complete disaster for our nation. Martians like you who are anti-American want to leave children behind. I'll give you one more chance to explain. What exactly are you proposing? And be specific. Enough of this babble."

DA: "That students, after or during their freshman year, who have proven over a long period of time they are choosing not to regularly attend, succeed, try, etc., shall be allowed various alternatives, let's call them options or choices. As of right now, students only have one choice: to attend school. Other choices or options might include - you might be surprised to hear me say this - alternative schools. You've already heard me mention trade schools. But there are a lot of other options too. What about the opportunity to serve in an existing one, two, or three year national program that helps the student and the country. There are opportunities for these young adults to to clean up the roads and environment, gain skills, benefit from structure, and help people. Think FDR! The Job Corps! AmeriCorps! These programs provide great alternatives for many. Believe it or not, it's true that some boot camps can be beneficial for some. You will probably be very surprised to hear me say this, but even the military might be an opportunity for some, of course the law would need to be changed to allow non-graduates to choose to enlist - does it really take a high shcool diploma to learn how to drive a Hummer into a neighborhood in Iraq?

FI: “Heh, heh. You keep using the word, 'choice.' Come on… you know we're making all efforts to take away individual choice... you are way out of touch with reality.'

DA: “Well, either I am or you are… time and history will tell, I guess.”

UPDATE: AUG 1st, 2011. Looks like I called that one!

FI: “Well, that just figures. You liberal snowflakes are always talking these billion-dollar, fat-cat governmental socialist programs. This is what I would have expected. Why is it always about that with your kind?"

DA: “Just trying to find something that might work.”

FI: “Besides, we have our own billion-dollar fat-cat government socialist program already designed to identify and then serve dropouts. We're way ahead of you!"

DA: “Really? Tell me about it. What's it called?”

FI: “It's called the draft! HR 3598 IH! The Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001. It was secretly introduced in the 107th Congress. Be sure to read the section below specifically addressing education for high school dropouts, and of course, read the entire bill. It's already been drawn up and is ready to be implemented any time. We're very proud of it in it's entirety and can't wait to proceed. Not only does it discriminate base on age and gender but it's religously based too! Yeah, a grand slam!

DA: “Well, that's not exactly what I had in mind… I was thinking of something a little less… uh,… horrible.”

HR 3598 IH Universal Military Training and Service Act of 2001

(Introduced in House)


(a) The Secretary concerned shall assist such members in earning the equivalent of a high school diploma while receiving their basic military training and education.


At the direction of the Secretary, the period of basic military training and education for a member of the armed forces under this act may be extended -

(1) with the consent of the member, for the purpose of furnishing hospitalization, medical, or surgical care for injury or illness incurred in line of duty; or

(2) for the purpose of requiring the member to compensate for any time lost for any cause.


The Secretary concerned may enter into a cooperative agreement with another Federal agency, a State or political subdivision of a State (including a State Commission on National and Community Service maintained by a State pursuant to section 178 of the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (42 U.S.C. 12638)), and other entities carrying out a national service program described in section 122 of such Act (42 U.S.C. 12572) to provide for a transfer of a person receiving basic military training and education, upon completion of the initial military training component of the training, to complete the remainder of the person's required service in a national service program.

FI: “So, you see, we have this all under control already. You don't need to worry your little selfabout this any more.”

DA: “I guess you're right.”

UPDATE AUG 1st, 2011: So far there has been no draft. But about fifty times per day on my radio I'm hearing the ad from National High School Radio reminding young men to be sure to sign up for the Selective Service. Their quote is, "It doesn't matter why you have to do it guys, you just have to." Hmmmm. I'm probably just being hysterical.... 

FI: “Anything else?” 

DA: “Um, no Sir.”

FI: “You're excused.” 

DA: “Yes, Sir. Thank you Sir."

“Merry Christmas, Happy New Year.”

John Lennon


Change the compulsory education law to age 14* and provide alternative educational and vocational options for students/humans of all ages.

Think of any option to address the dropout question other than drafting them and providing them with mandated military training. Just giving up on them and putting them into the military is leaving them behind.

Maybe the powers that be could just leave them alone and allow these young citizens who aren't interested in education or the military to go forth to pursue life, liberty, and happiness? Oh sorry, I forgot, everyone in the U.S. has rights except children, what was I thinking?

*Some states maintain the compulsory age at 16.

There is a nationwide push to expand the compulsory education laws to age 18 in many of the states where the existing age is 16. Wonder what that's about? See the below link from

NOTE: The reader needs to understand I have nothing but the highest regard for our soldiers and military personnel Thank you for your service and sacrifice. For many/most humans, the choice to join the military is a heroic and noble act and can provide great training, education, income, and more. Again, don't get me wrong. On the other hand, I don't have any respect for those persons who involve my/our country in needless wars so that they can make a lot of money. Don't get me wrong on that one either.

I'm all for someone joining the military if they want. I am always for individual human choice. Here is some information from a piece titled, How to Join The Military With No High School Diploma.

"National Guard Youth Challenge Program

Another option is to join the National Guard Youth Challenge Program. This is a program for high school dropouts between the ages of 16 and 18 who want to join the military. The program consists of a 20-week Residential Phase, during which cadets conduct daily community service activities and prepare for the GED test. The Residential Phase is followed by a 12-month Post-Residential Phase. During the Post-Residential Phase, cadets are involved in extensive life planning activities and continue their cadet training either in the military, at an educational institution or back in their home community.

Army Prep School

Finally, you can choose to enroll in army prep school. The U.S. Army began its first prep school in 2008 as a way for recruits to earn their GEDs in a structured military environment. The program was started because of the lack of available military recruits who have high school diplomas. The days at army prep school are difficult with a 5 a.m. start time of intense physical training continuing on with classes throughout the day."


California Compulsory Education Code:

The Universal Military and Training and Service Act of 2001: 
Just enter the above term into your favorite search engine and you will see millions of returns.

“Changing the compulsory attendance form 16 to 18 is one strategy states are employing in an attempt to reduce dropout rates. Increasing the compulsory attendance age is a policy that is garnering support accross the country and in 2002, six states mad the push to amend their laws."


Job Corps:

NCLB… yeah, it's probably time to go ahead and read it… and this time, read it carefully. 

Photo: Adam Fondren/Rapid City Journal/AP

UPDATE (July 28th, 2019) A red state is plastering 'In God We Trust' on the walls of public schools (Washington Post, July 28th, 2019). This is not a shocking event for anyone who has been paying attention for the past twenty years. The schools remain a political and religious playground. Who will be the next to mandate what for students? Are you paying attention yet?

"High expectations for one aren't necessarily high expectations for another."

Don Asbridge, 2005

Drop Mandatory Attendance © 2005-12, 19. Donald J. Asbridge Bakersfield, California USA. Some rights reserved.