HUDDERSFIELD'S MP is calling for top-level talks over soaring school truancy.
Barry Sheerman, chairman of the Commons education and skills select committee, labelled the absences a human tragedy.
"So many children are not getting the benefits of education," he said.
He will meet Education Secretary Ruth Kelly as figures revealed record numbers of children skipped school last year.
The national truancy rate soared by 10% and now stands at the highest level since 1994, when the figures were first compiled.
Mr Sheerman said: "About £50,000 is invested in each child during their time in school between the ages of five and 16, which is the biggest investment which will happen in their lives.
"It's a travesty that some children are not taking full advantage of it.
"They may as well stand in a playground ripping up £10 notes."
Ministers have announced plans to tackle the hard core of serial truants, threatening their parents with prison or hefty fines.
But opposition MPs said the Government had wasted nearly £1bn on previous anti-truancy measures which had failed.
The sharp increase meant that about 55,000 pupils a day were skipping classes in England during the 2004-05 school year, 4,500 more than the previous year.
Schools minister Jacqui Smith said:
"It is disappointing that a stubborn minority of pupils, estimated at 8,000 in just 4% of secondary schools, remain determined to jeopardise their education and their futures through persistent truancy."