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"80 percent of success is showing up."

A US school district is attempting to fine students or even imprison them for failing to attend school. Dede writes why she is apposed to this.

A school district in Muskogee, OK, has announced that it will be enforcing a state law that calls for fining students $250 for missing school repeatedly with no valid reason.  Students could also be imprisoned for 15 days.  Parents are not happy.  No kidding.


I have had the opportunity to observe student behavior for 37 years.  As teachers, counselors, and principals, we worked with students to discover the reason for school avoidance.  Sometimes, there was little parental control, or even substance or child abuse. Some students had low self-esteem, caused by many previous failures.  Some students did not want to come to school because of bullying.  Some needed psychological help for mental illness. The districts I knew worked with the parents first, and only in severe cases of absenteeism, and only after all other avenues were explored, students were referred to the local magistrate, and parents were fined.  Student imprisonment was never an option.

I do not condone student absenteeism.  Chronic absenteeism leads to dropping out of school, which leads to economic struggles and poverty.  But I simply cannot see fining the student, which is the same as fining the parent, and then throwing the student in jail, causing more absenteeism. This policy is not viable, and not a good idea, in my opinion.

Schools must work toward making the school climate welcoming, safe, and supportive.  School must be a place where students want to be and choose to be.  Teachers must extend themselves to students to assuage fears and anxiety.  Administrators, teachers, parents, and the student must all work together for the good of the student.

I am appalled that any state would actually have a law regarding the imprisonment of students.  I could not work as a teacher in Oklahoma.

If you are interested, here is the link to the article:

As always, I welcome your comments and suggestions. 

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The author

Dede Rittman is a 37-year veteran English/ Theater teacher from Pittsburgh, PA, teaching 35 years in the North Allegheny School District, where she also was Varsity Head Boys’ Golf Coach for 33 years, directed the spring musical and talent shows, and contributed to many district initiatives. She was a PA Teacher of the Year semi-finalist in 2011, the year she had to retire when her husband, Scott, was dying from stage four colon cancer. Dede’s book STUDENT TEACHING: THE INSIDE SCOOP FROM A MASTER TEACHER was published in September 2014 and the book has won 8 awards. Nationwide, colleges and universities are using her book, and Dede accepts speaking engagements around the country, with some focusing on education, and some on motivation. She is a guest blogger for educational magazines and was the Co-host of The Total Education Q and A Show, which was heard around the world on 120 stations in 80 countries on Dede gives presentations around the globe on both of her books through and . Dede writes a weekly blog for teacher inspiration at GRADY GETS GLASSES, Dede’s children’s book, just came out in hardcover. The book won Best New Children’s Book 2016 from The Authors’ Zone. Dede has also won two Album of Distinction Awards from Delta Kappa Gamma in 2015 and 2017; the prestigious I AM L.E.E. (Living Education Everyday) Award in 2016; and she was inducted into the North Allegheny Sports Hall of Fame in October of 2017. Dede works very hard on promoting her books and speaking engagements. She enjoys continuing teaching grades kindergarten to college through her books!

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