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The "Excused" Absence, Health Care Debate and Insurance

I know I call this blog, "What I Really Think" but I'll be honest, sometimes I don't share with you what I really think because it's too caustic or maybe too controversial and I'm afraid of ruffling some feathers. But I'm tired of that, so I'm going to stop holding back all of my snide remarks and actual thoughts and if you learn that I'm really a misanthrope, so be it.

So I'm going to start this week with the "Excused Absence."

Do you know what that is? It's an absence that the school deems "acceptable" and one that won't count against your attendance record (basically, if you get too many unexcused absences, hells fury will be released upon you and even if you're a straight A student, they'll threaten your advancement to the next grade - yeah right!)

But here's the thing that pisses me off about the excused absence. I firmly believe it's contributing to our rising health care costs, including insurance and disfavors poor (or lazy, like me) parents. Know why?

Because if you're kid is home sick with a 102° fever, even if the school nurse sent your child home with that fever, and tells you that you cannot send your kid to school the next day because your kids won't be 24 hours fever free (a policy I wholeheartedly agree with, by the way, but that's another rant), if you don't get a note from the doctor, your kid gets dinged with the dreaded unexcused absence.

Yes, that's right - though the nurse documented the fever, I must make an appointment with my doctor, drag my barfing child to the doctor's (where let's face it she's bound to pick up something else), have him examine her and tell me these things must run their course and pay g-d knows how much (because that's another issue - some have co-pays, some pay upfront and get reimbursed, some get billed later and on any given Sunday, anyone can guess how much the cost of that visit is and be correct) in order to get the note that says, "Please excuse Sammi from school today and maybe even tomorrow because she has a stomach bug." Duh.

So now I've wasted my doctor's time, which he could use to see someone that can actually benefit from his expertise, I've wasted the nurse's time, I've wasted the time of the people at the insurance company who process my claims, I've wasted the time of the postman who must deliver my bill (and all the people at the post office who sort the mail), I've wasted the book keeper's time, I've used gas to get to and from the doctor's and heck, I've even wasted the time of the school office staff who must read and file the note accordingly. We didn't even get to my time.

What happens when you waste time? Prices go up. And there you have it - one of the reasons for the rising cost of health care - the excused absence.

I'm not even going down the path of how this disfavors people who don't have insurance. Their kid gets sick, it could cost them $150 to get that stupid note - you decide, is that worth it?

Now I get it, there are people that lie and say their kids are sick when they're really not, so their kids don't get in trouble for skipping school. But don't you think if you skip school often enough, your grades will suffer? And if your grades drop, don't you think you should be in trouble - no matter the cause? And if you're saying, but should we penalize a kid because that kid gets sick and misses a bunch of school - is that fair? Yes! Know why? Because unless you arranged for a tutor for that child, if that kid missed that much school that the kid's grades suffer, then the child shouldn't advance because the child doesn't know the material. And I'm sorry that sucks but that's the way it is. You let a kid advance who doesn't know the material and that kid drags every other kid down as the teacher has to re-teach everything and is that fair?

So where was I? Oh yeah. Get rid of the excused absence policy and save everyone's time, money and energy.


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Other Thinks (7)


Gee Kim,that does stink. In Philly,students must present a parental note for an excused absence,not a Doctor's note. BUT, the excused absences still count against your attendance record. As for passing failing kids on to the next grade, that is a totally different story in Philly. Sadly, it is the norm!


You are right--craziness prevails and I love "telling it as it is." Sometimes I can't resist it either. PS I need your address.

OK, I didn't realize that such notes existed, that is just wrong, especially after the school nurse told you your child's running a fever.
guess that could be a start for lowering health car costs, but much, much more need to be done. sigh:

I think this whole excused/unexcused absence thing is ridiculous! I would think that parents without health insurance would certainly not go to the doctor for a note, especially a fever was already documented in the health room. I think you should write a letter to the editor about the health care debate and the excused absence.

In our state we have an even more ridiculous policy. Even though we have to mark on our attendance the reason for an absence (e.g. doctor's visit, sick, trip, etc.) EVERY absence is considered as unexcused, even if the child is in the hospital! So if a child is sent home at 8 am, they are marked absent but it is still considered as unexcused and after every 5, we have to send home a letter (I refuse since preschool kids are not required by law to attend school) and after a certain number of absences from grades 1 on, parents can be taken to court for educational neglect. So if your child is in the hospital very ill, too bad!


Testify Sister! It is ridiculous how we are inchained by a$$inine rules. Also, please don't mince words. This is your blog and if somebody doesn't like how or what you say, they don't have to read it. It's called Freedom of Speech and it something that is rapidly disapearing.


Now this is the Kim I know and love.


I'm two years behind this chat, but wanted to say...My daughter was sick over and over...it took a while to figure out what was causing her to catch every sinus, strep, and ear infection, and every virus over and over (again, I say). FINALLY, they figured out that she had environmental allergies. Because her allergies had not been diagnosed (she had no obvious symptoms of allergy) and therefore, not treated, her system was so busy producing histomine, her immune system was compromised and she was catching everything she came in contact with. In the meantime, her school was having fits. I had to provide a physician's note every time she was sick. Not a problem, I did. BUT it didn't matter. For two months I provided doctor's notes for EVERY absence. I also repeatedly requested, begged and pleaded for her EIGHT teachers to help me keep her on track at school and give us ANY work that she missed. I explained to each teacher and the administration the situation with my daughter's medical issues and the steps the doc. was taking to resolve and control the problem. 6 out of the 8 teachers refused to give her the make up work and refused to accept the work that we did have access to. After that two months, they sent us to TRUANCY court, so that we could stand with the kids who were just ditching school and the parents who didn't care if their kids went to school or not. Of course there was nothing for the judge to do, there were doctor's notes and they could not allow her to be at school if she is contagious, now can they? SO I suppose the school just wanted me to wave my magic wand and make her well, so that could maintain their "attendance" records. They said it was a concern for her getting her education, but they refused to provide the work for her to get that education they were so concerned with and would only talk about her "attendance". Evidently, it's their perspective that it's ONLY in class instruction that they learn, which kind of dismisses homework, projects, reports, etc. Seems to me that they were saying that if she wasn't in class, there was nothing for her to learn...wouldn't that make any independent study useless? OF COURSE NOT. They were trying to claim a concern for her education, but because they weren't willing to move off of their mark of routine and help her, it leaves one to wonder if it really wasn't just about attendance and the funding that it provides. "make her well, because you're messing with our numbers". Talk about a waste of time and money...how about court? The pay for the judge, attorney's, etc. AND get this...the asst. principle who filed the truancy petition, didn't even show up!!! And my right to confront him was simply ignored. None of it is about education, it's all about funding, that's why it doesn't make sense. A sick child is NOT a "TRUANT" child. You can force a child to sit in class (you can sit in class with them), but you can not force a child to be well.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on March 8, 2010 3:12 PM.

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