[mounts soapbox/high horse]
As you’ll probably be able to tell, this is a well-nourished peeve of mine. I’ll try to refrain from resorting to ALL CAPS. Anyway. It is more than reasonable for a teacher to work toward reducing absences, and for a school to have a policy for dealing with them. We cannot teach children when they are not at school. Catching up (or working ahead) drains time and energy from both students and teachers, ultimately impacting even those students who are not absent. Some students never catch up.
I don’t even take advantage of the personal days that my contract entitles me to, and not because I’m such a dedicated, tireless classroom laborer. It’s just way too much work to prepare things for a sub before I leave, and to get back on track when I return. I pretty much have to be exceedingly ill, going to a wedding, or going to a funeral before I’ll take a day off from school. It’s simply not worth it.
Some absences can’t be helped. I have children of my own, and I know that it’s nearly impossible to schedule things like dentist appointments without missing school sometimes. But DID YOU REALLY NEED TO GO ON A TWO-WEEK VACATION DURING THE SCHOOL YEAR????!!!!!?????
Maybe they do need to occasionally. I once had some students who missed quite a bit of school one year so they could spend time with a terminally ill parent. I don’t blame them for a moment. And ultimately, who am I to decide how families manage their time? It’s not really my business.
But everything has a cost. Attending school means giving up other activities, and being absent from school means decreased learning. There’s no way around it.
[dismounts soapbox/high horse]