Policies for schools are created at the local, state and federal levels. Educational policies are rules that are intended to help schools teach students efficiently, fairly and safely. These rules determine how students are taught, what they are taught, and how schools manage students and school personnel. Educational policies can also help keep students in school. The National Center for School Engagement, in a report on truancy prevention, reported that the 2000 U.S. Census found that, in 1999, only 52 percent of drop-outs had jobs, compared to 71 percent of high school graduates.
Attendance policies define the difference between tardiness and excused or unexcused absences. They can help foster responsibility in students, and they also determine how many days a student can miss from school before disciplinary action is taken. Attendance policies are important, because they can encourage students to stay in school. According to the National Center for School Engagement, truancy can lead to social isolation, juvenile delinquency or failure in school.
Suspension and Expulsion
Policies that determine when a student should be suspended or expelled from school are important because they can impact a child's future. Although it is common to expel students for excessive violations of school rules, this is not always a good option for dealing with behavior problems. When a child is expelled, he may lose his desire to continue attending traditional school and quit. Suspension policies in schools can inadvertently discourage students from attending school, leading to a lifetime of low-paying jobs or dependency on public assistance. For this reason, it is important to have policies that incorporate other solutions before resorting to suspension and expulsion.
Policies in school influence how safe students are in public schools. Discipline policies have an effect on the safety of all students and adults at school. These policies can regulate how often schools have fire drills, what to do in case of a terrorist attack, or how teachers and staff should respond during a medical emergency at school. Safety policies in school extend beyond the classroom; some dictate that teachers have an obligation to report suspected child abuse that may have occurred at home or in the community.
School policies dictate how students will be divided among schools in an area, and whether students in the district can attend schools that are outside of their area. These rules govern the school's population and diversity. They also dictate the number of students who attend the school, which in turn affects funding for public schools. Districting has a strong impact on diversity in the nation's schools. An article, "Don't Run from Diversity Policies," published in "School Board News Today," urges school boards to embrace diversity policies, because they can help students succeed in a diverse, global economy. The article suggested that schools diversify students based on geography, socioeconomics, language and other demographic factors.
Equality in the schools is determined by school policies as well. In the United States, schools have policies requiring acts of discrimination to be reported to school or district administrators and to be remedied promptly. There are also policies in place to make sure that people with disabilities, or who do not speak English as their primary language, receive the same access to an education as other students. This ensures that everyone in the country has the opportunity to contribute to society and thrive economically.
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