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  • Sacred Conversations 2016

Our Opinion: Help curb truancy in schools

Springfield-area schools are well into the swing of the new school year, and that means a renewed focus on truancy, or chronic absences.

Readers may have noticed “In School and on Time” yard signs, brochures and buttons around town. They’re part of an outreach effort by the Faith Coalition for the Common Good to bring attention to the issue and get students to school every day.

Studies over the years have revealed not-so-surprising insight into the issue of school truancy. For example, missing just two days of school a month can affect a student’s academic progress. Nationally, one in 10 kindergartners misses 18 or more days of school, and as early as sixth grade missing that many days of school a year can be a predictor that a student will drop out of high school, according to

Reasons behind truancy aren’t always as simple as kids refusing to go. In homes where parents go to work early, older siblings may be responsible for getting younger children out the door and onto the bus. If they miss the bus and have no one to turn to for a ride, they may just stay home for the day. If there is only one household cell phone and a parent took it with him or her to work, that means children may have no way to call for a ride, to let their parents know what happened or to call the school.

Sometimes students feel anxious about school. Others feel bored and uninvolved in their classes. Surveys have shown that boys say the last time they felt involved or valued in the classroom was fifth grade.

Parents aren’t blameless in the matter of truancy, but the community needs to acknowledge that often there are other issues at play and no easy solutions. If a child you know seems to have trouble making it to school, stop and have a conversation, find out what’s going on and reach out to the parents with an offer of help if possible. Attendance counts.

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