Obama Administration’s new initiative to combat chronic student absenteeism
By Zenitha Prince , Special to the Trice Edney News Wire from the Afro American Newspaper
(TriceEdneyWire.com) – An estimated five million to 7.5 million students are chronically absent from school each year, putting them at risk of several negative outcomes. But, on Oct. 7, the Obama Administration announced a new cross-sector initiative to turn that tide.
Every Student, Every Day, an initiative led by the White House and the U.S. Departments of Education (ED), Health and Human Services (HHS), Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and Justice (DOJ), will attempt to eradicate chronic absenteeism by at least 10 percent each year, beginning in the current school year.
Experts say that students who are chronically absent—those who miss at least 10 percent or about 18 days of attendance in a year—are more susceptible to becoming dropouts. Working together with states, local communities, and non-profit, faith-based, and philanthropic organizations, the Obama administration will attempt to find solutions.
“It’s common-sense – children have to be in their class-rooms 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,” said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. “Through this national initiative we are partnering with communities and providing tools to help our all of our young people attend school every day, so that they are learning the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in school, careers and life.”
According to research cited by the Administration, chronic absenteeism is a key factor in causing low academic achievement, which dramatically in-creases the chances of a child dropping out of school. Researchers have also connected chronic absenteeism to involvement in the school-to-prison pipeline.
“Kids who are chronically absent from school are much more likely to drop out later – and not only do they miss the opportunities that come through education, but they are also at greater risk of involvement with the justice system,” said Attorney General Loretta Lynch. “This new initiative will help teachers and school administrators keep our young people on track for a quality education and a future of achievement.”
Through the initiative, the Administration and its partners will provide:
- new federal tools to help local communities battle chronic absenteeism,
- more information on the phenomenon through the gathering of statistics in the Civil Rights Data Collection,
- a nationwide summit in the spring of 2016,
- technical assistance to states and local school districts to implement early warning signs,
- a public awareness campaign,
- mentorship programs, and more.
For more information about Every Day Every Child, go to http://ed.gov/c