Earlier this month, the White House announced its first-ever initiative to fight chronic absenteeism, Every Student, Every Day: A National Initiative to Address and Eliminate Chronic Absenteeism.
Then Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, stated, “It’s common-sense—students have to be in their classrooms to learn, yet too many of our children, and most often our most vulnerable children, are missing almost a month or more of school every year.”
Attendance is foundational to student success. If kids aren’t in their seats, they aren’t learning.
I’ve known this to be true since I began teaching in a NYC public high school in 2008. Before entering the classroom, I had underestimated both the severity of absenteeism and the complacent response to this issue by many teachers whom I respected.
When I voiced my concerns about absenteeism, many colleagues told me, “you can’t force these students to come back to school.”
We must do more to change our mindset around this issue. We cannot be complacent about the fact that 5 to 7.5MM students miss a month of school each year in districts and schools throughout our country.
By raising public awareness of this issue, and by supporting schools to more deeply engage families, we can change the status quo and bring kids back to their classrooms.
At Kinvolved, we are proud to be at the forefront of this important national challenge, and we’re thrilled to see our political system making attendance improvement a priority.
Miriam Altman is Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Kinvolved. While an NYC public high school history teacher, Miriam worked to develop strategies to improve student attendance rates and leverage family involvement in school. She holds an MPA in Policy and Management from the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University. She also holds an MA, Ed. in Secondary Social Studies Education from Lehman College and a BA with Honors in an Independent Concentration, News Media and Societal Change, from Brown University.