A dad is being praised on TikTok for calling out how perfect attendance awards encourage unhealthy habits.
The father and video creator (who goes by @speechprof on TikTok) recalled going to a recent awards ceremony at his kid’s school, where they were also giving out perfect attendance awards. You remember the ones…those fake certificates celebrating the fact that you…showed up each day?
“I was like, ‘How are we still doing these?’” he said in the video. “After what we just went through and are still going through,” he adds, “how are we rewarding students for something that’s beyond their control?”
He answered his own question by saying that it’s “funding” that causes schools to incentivize attendance. Washington Post contributor Jackie Spinner backed up this claim in an op-ed against perfect attendance awards back in 2021, where she wrote that average daily attendance was directly tied to funding in schools across seven states, including Texas and California.
Spinner’s argument was that—especially after the COVID-19 pandemic—in-person learning should prioritize health.
TikTok dad @speechprof echoed this sentiment by saying, “In the current state of the world we live in, should we really be encouraging parents to send their sick kids to school? Is that the message we should be sending?”
@speechprof #stitch with @jayrscottyy can we get rid of perfect attendance awards? #parentsoftiktok #stayhome #gettingsick ♬ original sound – The Speech Prof
He posits that instead, we might want to consider “rewarding the students that are responsible citizens and staying home when they’re ill instead of coming to school and getting their classmates sick.”
Otherwise, the message being sent is that kids are “somehow ‘less than,’ they’re not worthy of an award simply because they caught a cold.”
The video quickly went viral and received a ton of comments from people who also felt the award was pointless at best, and at worst, a bit toxic.
“They should rename them ‘My adults send me to school sick’ if they insist on doing them,” one person wrote.
“I had perfect attendance from K-12 and it has benefited me in absolutely no way,” quipped another.
And while @speechprof’s video focused mainly on taking sick days, others pointed out that perfect attendance awards also don’t take holy days of many non-Christian faiths into consideration, nor do they instill treating mental health as a priority.
“Attendance awards bummed me out bcz there was no universe in which a Jewish kid could honor our holidays & have perfect attendance at a public school,” wrote one person.
Another added, “This is why I practice MH days with my daughter I need her to trust how she’s feeling.”
Maybe a perfect attendance award itself doesn’t hold much power, but the concept of how it teaches kids to value pushing through at the risk of their health is worth considering. After all, well-being and agency arguably do a lot more for a person than any certificate can.