Editorial on ‘day off’ was misinformed
In response to The Free Lance–Star editorial board’s misinformed opinion piece on Feb. 18, I would like to correct the record in regards to our bill, which has now passed the General Assembly, to allow middle and high school students to take an excused absence to participate in civic engagement.
As was mentioned in the editorial, this legislation is based on a successful policy in Fairfax County that was implemented beginning in the 2019–20 school year. But what the opinion piece failed to mention were the statistics surrounding that policy: There were no major changes in the Virginia Department of Education’s measurement of chronic absenteeism in the 2019–20 school year compared to the ratings of 2018–19.
This wasn’t Ferris Bueller calling in sick to take a joy-ride around town. These were students learning civics outside the classroom. They were my classmates who were planning and attending student-led lobby sessions in Washington to urge senators to remove the deadline for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. It was me going to testify before the House Subcommittee on pre-K–12 education.
Not one concrete example has ever been named of abuse of this policy.
The point was also made that the General Assembly shouldn’t be dictating from Richmond what is and isn’t an excused absence. It’s obvious that the editorial board couldn’t figure out their own arguments in opposition to this measure, so they just decided to piggy-back off of Del. John Avoli’s argument.
I would suggest that both Del. Avoli and the editorial board actually read the bill. There, they will be stunned to find out the General Assembly already has 11 reasons for an excused absence listed in the Virginia Code. Our bill merely adds another one.
Virginia Young Democrats Teen Caucus Chair
Falls Church, Va.