The withdrawal of pupils from school
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This subject has, perhaps, received more attention and less careful study than any other educational problem. The numerous compulsory school attendance laws, both in Europe and America, testify to the consideration this question has received from lawmakers as well as educators. It is a well-known fact that a very small percent of the pupils who enter the public schools - to say nothing of those who do not enter - ever complete the elementary course of study, and that a very large percent withdraw so early in the course that they enter the activities of life with scarcely the rudiments of an education. Certainly as long as this is the case, the public school is not fulfilling its mission. Such conditions would be alarming in any country, but in a country like ours, where the people are supposed to rule, the very existence of our free institutions depends upon the intelligence and honesty of our citizens. That the seriousness of the problem is realized is shown by the number of states that have passed compulsory attendance laws. Such laws, however, are based on the assumption that fault is entirely with the parents or the pupils, and that they must be forced to take advantage of opportunities which they do not themselves appreciate. That is an easy way of looking at the problem, and one that is very popular, for it frees the school from all blame and puts it all on the side of the pupil, but this is begging the question. What we wish to find out is, why schools are not appreciated and why pupils have to be compelled to attend. Is it the fault of the pupil or the parent entirely, or is the school responsible?
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