Utah State Sen. Aaron Osmond
(R-South Jordan) has introduced a proposal to abolish compulsory education
for children in his home state.
Titled Accountability for Parents + Respect for Teachers
, Osmond's proposal advocates a "freedom-based" approach, decrying parents' perceived withdrawal from the educational process: "As a result, our teachers and schools have been forced to become surrogate parents, expected to do everything from behavioral counseling, to providing adequate nutrition, to teaching sex education, as well as ensuring full college and career readiness." Although Utah Code § 53A-11-101.5
already specifies that education is not compulsory until a child has reached the age of 6 [PDF
], Osmond seeks to do away with compulsory education altogether.
outlines four recommendations:
1. Restoring "the expectation that parents are primarily responsible for the educational success of their own children,"
2. "Shift[ing] the public mindset to recognize that education is a not an obligation, but an opportunity to be treasured and respected,"
3. Rolling back the requirement that children and teachers must be present in the classroom for at least 990 hours per year, and
4. Reiterating the belief that "if a parent decides to keep their child home or to go on a family vacation, it's the responsibility of that parent to ensure their child completes the assignments and stays current with their class."
Osmond also references Agency Based Education
proponent Oak Norton and his 2012 ABE Conference
talk, "Ending Compulsory Education: A Freedom-Based Argument" [PDF
]. Norton advances the idea that "we cannot provide government a legal power that trumps that parental right by way of compulsory education and truancy laws."
State School Board member Leslie Castle responded to Osmond's overture in an interview with Ogden's Standard-Examiner
, observing that today's Utahns "live in a society where some children require help beyond the ability of their parents. Those students don't deserve to be punished, they don't deserve to be disqualified." Citing Utah's 92% opt-in rate for kindergarten as a prime example of citizens exercising a choice free of legal obligation, Osmond replied, "We have to shift the culture more than just the process." Speaking to Salt Lake City's Deseret News
, Osmond admitted that the details of his proposal may need fine-tuning, but concluded, "What I'm hoping to accomplish with this bill is to restore the trust and respect and professionalism of teachers as a facility of learning and not as a social worker."
A University of Phoenix graduate, real estate entrepreneur, and former Microsoft executive, Osmond won his seat in 2011
in an election brought about by the resignation of State Sen. Chris Buttars
. Since his election, Osmond has served as a member of the Utah Senate Education Standing Committee
, the Higher Education Appropriations Subcommittee
, and the Public Education Appropriations Subcommittee
, all of which work in concert to make budget recommendations to the state Legislature and govern appropriations and funding for all of Utah's charter schools and school districts.
In a comparison
of public education spending levels across the United States, Utah currently ranks 50th in the nation, with a FY 2011
expenditure of $6,212 per student.