An Indiana eighth-grader was punished with an unexcused absence from her public school after taking the day off to sing in a children’s choir for an event featuring the president of the United States.
As reported by WRTV in Indianapolis, Brianna Tull missed school Tuesday to sing with the Indianapolis Children’s Choir at Bush’s appearance at the Indiana State Fairgrounds. Even though the Westfield-Washington School District allows for absences when the student is having an “educational experience,” sharing the stage with the president did not meet that criterion.
As punishment, Tull was told she was not allowed to earn credit for homework, tests and quizzes given that day. It’s the equivalent of getting all ‘Ds’ for the day, the TV station said. This even though the Tulls notified the school beforehand that the girl would be absent.
Brianna’s father, Ken Tull, told WRTV: “It’s totally ridiculous that you can’t take your kids out of school for something this important. The president doesn’t come here every day.”
District Superintendent Mark Keen had a different take on the event.
“I’m not sure what was gained from an educational value,” Keen told WRTV. “We’re in school for 180 days to provide an education. Going to see the president is certainly an experience, but what did the child learn from that?”
The choir sang before Bush addressed about 7,000 people at the fairgrounds coliseum, touting his latest tax-cut plan.
Brianna said the presidential event was, in fact, educational.
“I bet that I’m going to remember this forever and tell my kids. It’s an historical thing,” she said.
Meanwhile, school districts in California appear to have different standards for approving absences. According to a story in the Oakland Tribune, several hundred Oakland and Berkeley public-school students traveled to Sacramento last week to protest against cuts in education funding on the steps of the state Capitol – on a school day.
The paper reports a few dozen busloads of students, ranging in age from first-graders to high-school seniors, took part in the “Education Not Incarceration” rally. The rally reportedly was organized by the children’s teachers.