Nanny State

Fines Don't Stop Parents From Putting Family Ahead of School—And Good For Them



Club Med, of all places, surveyed British parents to find out if they would take their kids out of school for a vacation in defiance of laws that levy pretty stiff fines on families that do just that. Almost half of respondents said damned straight, some time with the family come before staring at the chalkboard. That's a nice reaffirmation of healthy priorities, despite penalties that have cost some parents the equivalent of a thousand dollars.

From a Club Med press release:

Nearly half of parents (48%) would take their children out of school to go skiing if it was cheaper, Club Med can reveal from their official Ski Report-Skiing Together, Winter Sport Holidays for Families, released today.

Despite the threat of fines from local authorities, British families are keener than ever to take children out of school to avoid the most expensive travelling weeks.

The findings from Club Med show that school isn't always the most important priority, but half of parents (48%) are inspired to go skiing to challengetheir children to learn new skills.Over 40% of parents choose skiing because it encourages them to bond as a family, whilst over a quarter choose skiing for the physical benefits–showing that children's best interests are in mind even if it means skipping the national curriculum.

Under the provisions of the Education Act of 1996, parents have to ask school officials' permission to remove their kids from class outside a narrow range of circumstances. Earlier this year, the Sutherland family, from Trench, Telford, was slapped with a £630 ($1,053) penalty for taking the wee ones to Greece for a week without permission while school was in session.

Stewart Sutherland, who chose a foreign country, ancient culture, and the cradle of western civilization over hours in a classroom, understandably said officials "don't live in the real world."

I didn't take my son skiiing or to Greece, last week, but I did pull him out of school for two days so he could feed a tiger at a safari park and tour Sinagua Indian ruins with his grandparents. Fortunately, I didn't need permission to give him a little enriching family time.

It sounds as if a lot of British families might make the same wise choice, even if they break a few rules along the way.