Effective public education in West Virginia begins at home. If parents and guardians don't send their children to school or teach them appropriately at home, no amount of reform legislation will do any good.
Too many Mountain State children don't get to school regularly. They are being left behind because of poor choices by adults who should know better.
Failing to comply with the state's compulsory school attendance rule is a crime - and some judges, both at the magistrate and circuit court level, have begun enforcing the law with vigor.
Just last week, Kanawha County Circuit Judge Duke Bloom sentenced six parents to 90 days' probation, five days' community service and payment of $211 in fines and costs because their children have excessive absences from school. Another six parents didn't show up for court dates on the truancy charges. Bloom issued arrest warrants for them.
This is not the first time Bloom has issued similar sentences for parents who refuse to ensure their children go to school regularly. At some point, one might assume Kanawha County parents would get the message. Not yet, apparently.
Again, Bloom is far from alone in viewing truancy as a serious problem meriting special attention. Some judges in our area have had to deal with scofflaw parents, too.
Perhaps judicial action in our area should be kicked up a notch, to an extent similar to what is happening in Kanawha County.
There are valid reasons why some parents find it difficult, even impossible, to ensure their children make it to school every day. Illness, either of children or their parents, is one. Other problems in the family also can be understandable.
But school attendance is important. Every day a child misses class is a lost opportunity for education. Every day at home puts a child behind his or her classmates. Parents who simply don't care about that should be treated as criminals for what they are doing to their children.