A total of 61 high schools throughout the city have reported extremely low attendance rates in recent semesters. The lowest attendance rate was at the Performance Conservatory High School, according to the New York Daily News. Out of the 260 students who attended this school last year, 37 percent were absent on any given day. Three-quarters of students missed a month or more of school.
The Daily News further discovered that throughout the city, an average of only 87 percent of students attended class on any given day.
Of the 25 schools with the lowest attendance numbers last year, 13 are currently being shut down by the city due to poor academic performance. That includes the Performance Conservatory High School, where student Jonathan Garcia is a senior and estimates he has already missed 20 days this year.
“The kids don’t go because it has nothing to offer,” said Garcia.
It’s obvious that in order to see improvement in test scores, graduation rates, and education levels, students must maintain regular and consistent attendance.
But the extent of this issue goes beyond the daily attendance sheet. If schools want good attendance, they must make sure they’re offering kids something worth spending their time on. Modern families – parents and children – tend to be a cynical lot. If they deem something to be a waste of time, they can’t be counted on to participate or force their kids to participate.
Of course the teachers unions see no problem with sub-par academic programs that are boring kids away from school.
The unions attribute the low attendance numbers to budget cuts, which have forced the city to cut the number of ‘attendance teachers,’ according to the Daily News. These individuals have been trained to hunt down truants in an effort to increase attendance rates. Numbers show that this department has lost 10% of its staff since 2009.
Schools shouldn’t have to chase down so many students. The vast majority of children want to learn and will show up if they perceive there’s a worthwhile reason to attend.