Educational policies are rules that are used in schools to effectively and efficiently teach students and keep them safe. These rules determine how students are taught, what they are taught and how schools manage students and school personnel. The policies can also affect the equality of an education in an area. Educational policies are important because effective policies can 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 per cent of dropouts had jobs, compared to 71 per cent of high school graduates.
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Policies for schools are created at the local, state and federal levels. Attendance policies define the difference between tardiness and excused and 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 from School
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 excessively breaking school rules, this is not always a good option for dealing with behaviour problems. It's best to determine the cause of the issue rather than expelling the student. When a child is expelled, he may lose his desire to continue attending traditional school and quit. Suspension policies in school can inadvertently discourage students from attending school, leading to a lifetime of low-paying jobs or dependency on public assistance.
Policies in school influence how safe students are in state 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 schools; some policies dictate that teachers have obligations to report suspected child abuse, which 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 the funding for state schools. Districting has a strong impact on the 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 information.
Equality in the schools is determined by school policies as well. For example, in the United Kingdom, a Race Equality Policy ensures that students in minority groups are treated equally and fairly. Schools are required to report incidents of minority discrimination per the policy. In the United States, schools usually have policies to report acts of discrimination to school administrators. There are also policies in place to make sure that people with disabilities receive the same access to an education as students who do not have disabilities.
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- National Center for School Engagement: School Policies that Engage Students and Families
- National Center for School Engagement: Truancy is a Risk Factor for Other Problems
- School Board News: Attorneys Don't Run from Diversity Policies
- Guidance Department for Education and Skills: School Race Policies from Issues to Outcomes