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Fair and Balanced Discussion from Southern Oregon

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Oregon gets the Silver... in Absenteeism 

Well, despite some really GOOD things in the State Dept of Education report card (like #2 in SAT scores among states with more than 50% of seniors taking the test...), Oregon comes in #2 in another area that isn't so good... students not coming to school. According to a a statewide survey conducted by the Chalkboard Project, Oregon trails only Kentucky in absentee rates, with a state wide avg of 88% attendance (based on enrollment numbers).
"Despite these startling numbers, absenteeism hasn't really broken to the surface in any of Oregon's recent school improvement efforts, said Sue Hildick, Chalkboard Project's president. "After nearly a year of exhaustive research, our studies show that even the strongest education program will struggle to improve achievement if students do not show up for class. There is a direct link between attendance and achievement. The key is getting parents engaged."

Chalkboard's own recent state-wide survey revealed that 83% of Oregonians believe that "not enough direct parent support of the learning process with their children" is a big or very big obstacle to the success of public schools.


As an educator and former marginal student, let me toss MY thoughts into this one...

ONE: It isn't the academic offerings that get kids wanting to be in school. It's the other stuff - friends, music, sports, clubs, etc... except for the friends, we CUT all of that to various degrees.

TWO: Schools can only tackle attendance proactively if they are staffed with enough people to make the tracking and contact work happen. Oh, we CUT those people, too...

THREE: Schools are NOT responsible for the behavior of children, at least not as much as PARENTS... Oh wait, we have given them an economy that forces dual-income households for survival, leaving youth unsupervised, unregulated, and unconsequenced in many homes... apparently about 12% of homes...

It's time for a change.

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