About 16 million American kids live in poverty ridden conditions and are left to look after themselves in areas where gangs and drugs are rampant as well as reek of despair and decay. While other kids enjoy their summer break, kids from poor families have to deal with parents working multiple jobs or who are in search of one. Because of the hardships that such kids face on a daily basis, one expects kids from such families to have high attendance percentage. Despite the prospect of hot meals and a clean and safe classroom environment, the records of schools show a different picture.
According to the findings put forward by Vaughan Byrnes and Robert Balfanz, kids from poor families have a high percentage of absenteeism seen by these researchers at about 10% percent of school days per year. Even though the Federal administration does not keep track of absenteeism, the problem has reached record proportions in many American states. According to data available, the state of Maryland, for instance, is said to have 31% of eligible high school kids absent for the federal lunch plan, while the figure for students falling above the poverty line stands at 12%.
In addition to this revealing fact, according to the research published by the Director of Attendance Works, HedyNai-Lin Chang, recurrently absent students are said to have not only low test scores but poor GPAs and graduation rates in comparison to their compeers who go to class on a regular basis. Most of the time, school dropouts are a result of a range of social problems ranging from housing problems to mental health issues, lack of stability at home and embarrassment caused by insufficient financial means.
While continuous absenteeism and dropout rates are considered to be school problems by policy makers, they do not consider social problems as part of school problems that require same set of handling. To connect this divide,setting up of community schools called Communities in Schools is needed,whichrequires schools that have a great number of poor children to have a social worker whohas to function as the site coordinator in the school administration. The task of such an individual is to identify potential dropouts and provide them with services on a school as well as community level.
Recognizing the value of such a program, many politicians across all party lines have come out in support of it. While the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, plans to establish about forty community schools, Rick Snyder the Governor of Michigan has come out with an announcement that the Department of Human Services would be playing an active role in the state’s public schools.
Thus, the key to bringing down absenteeism is to put social workers in each and every school that has a large number of poor children so that appropriate community services get delivered to the needy in order to improve the attendance rate while bringing down the dropout rates. This approach is also a pocket-friendly way of averting larger problems in the future.