Monday, August 2, 2010


So, it looks like the flavor of the month (or more likely the school year) for City Schools is truancy. All problems can be traced to kids not being in school and the root cause there is obviously Bad Parents. Such a simple answer to the incredibly complicated problem of a failing education system.

I've got more than a few issues with this, but let's start with the first that is driving this post. Msk did not miss 175 days of school last year. I don't have a calendar where I wrote them down, but I'm guessing he missed 2 or 3 days. I realize he's changed schools every 2 years for the last 6 years, so he might be a little hard to keep track of, but get your attendance system together before you send me threatening letters - $100 fine per day, the importance of education...blah, blah, blah.

In calling around, it turns out that many of these threatening letters were sent out in error. Makes me distrust the whole accounting process of figuring out truancy and attendance. Perhaps the data driving Dr. A's email "Learning from Our Results" was equally flawed. Hard to feel a lot of confidence in these type of hard data pronconcements.

Beyond my general smoldering anger about being told that I need to start caring about schools, I've got another problem with truancy as the cause of all of the school system's problems. I know there are legitimately chronically truant students, although my son isn't one of them. It's pretty easy to dismiss them all as thugs with parents who don't care. If that were the case there would be a single problem to attack, and it would have very little to do with improving the schools. I can quickly think of three other reasons a kid might not be in school that do have to do with what is happening in our schools:

  1. They are being bullied so mercilessly that they feel cutting school is necessary for survival
  2. The atmosphere in the classroom is negative towards students from the teacher and/or administrator that they can't see any point in attending - they've bought into the pronouncement that they are a lost cause
  3. The school situation is so poor/unsafe/unproductive that a parent keeps them home while working on getting them transfered to another school (I could talk about ESY again...)
Look, I'm not saying that isn't a real issue, but from experience I know what happens when "the problem" gets called out. The kids will have daily announcements on the intercom about not missing school and at least one of my kids will be sure (to the point of tears and depression) she is going to get kicked out of her school/program when she gets sick and misses a day. The principals will flow this top priority down to teachers who will make it even harder to make up work from missed days. I'm guessing attendance will factor stronger into grades and assessments. Wonderful. The reality is that my kids missing a few days for illness or a delayed flight from visiting Grandpa are not the ones bringing down the school system's MSA scores.


1 comment:

  1. I hope you saw the 6:00 ABC National News today;Monday August 16th. A great story about a family planning for their child with autism. Perhaps you can watch it online. Hope the school year unfolds well for you and your kids! :-)


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