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Schools urged to re-engage their students

Nov 28, 2010 11:25 am
Both the Catskill Daily Mail and Kingston Daily Freeman are running Michael Virtanen's front page Associated Press story on the failure for punishments, of parents or students, to stem absenteeism in our schools.

Virtanen's piece references a report commissioned by the state's Office of Children and Family Services that says that hauling parents into family court is not the best way to combat a rising tide of kids who chronically miss school.

"In New York City, 'chronic absenteeism' — when a student misses at least 20 of the 180 days in a school year — afflicts 40 percent of high school students and educators currently refer cases to social services for neglect," the piece notes. "Under New York law, chronic school absence is a trigger for complaints to the Office of Children and Family Services. Referrals can lead to family court, foster care or probation-like PINS supervision."

Professor Robert Balfanz, at Johns Hopkins University, said his research has shown that about half the students just decide to skip school, a quarter are avoiding something negative such as a bully or uncomfortable class, and another quarter stay out for life issues like work or baby sitting.

Now, a new study by the Vera Institute of Justice — commissioned by the state office of Children and Family Services — backs up the agency's belief that going after parents for educational neglect isn't effective. The report says chronic absenteeism seldom means teens are abused or neglected at home but instead suggests they stay out for other reasons and schools need to find ways to re-engage them.

Talk about a great idea... although statewide, many programs geared towards such re-engagement -- such as the INDIE program in Ulster County's Onteora District -- have been cut entirely in the past two years of drastic school budget cuts.

Seem another new byproduct of our new austerity budgets, on all levels, is rearing its ugly head...

For the full AP story click HERE.

For the report itself, click HERE.
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