Why students skip school
September 14th, 2012
01:20 PM ET

Why students skip school

by Carl Azuz, CNN

(CNN) - “School is boring,” say about half of American students who routinely skip.  But when asked what they’re doing instead of attending class, most say they’re just hanging out with their friends or sleeping.

A survey recently published at Getschooled.com cites data that as many as 7 million students - about 15% of the K-12 population - are out of school 18 or more days of the school year.  And many of them don’t think skipping school will impact their future.

That’s not in line with reality.  The study points out that students who skip more than 10 days of school are significantly (about 20%) less likely to get a high school diploma.  And they’re 25% less likely to enroll in higher education.

Can parents have an impact here?  Absolutely.  In fact, parental encouragement to attend school was the most widely cited factor in what would make students want to go to class diligently.

But many of those surveyed said their parents didn’t even know when students skipped.  In fact, 42% said their parents either never knew or rarely knew when their kids were absent from school; another 24% added that parents knew “sometimes.”  So parental engagement and knowledge of children’s whereabouts seem key to keeping kids in class.

Students also said that encouragement from anyone to whom they felt a personal connection, from teachers to coaches to celebrities, could influence better attendance.  “If we - parents, educators, and even celebrities - show them we truly care about them, their aspirations and frustrations, they will be more likely to care about making it to school,” writes Marie Groark, executive director of the Get Schooled Foundation.

Other solutions:  Those surveyed said they wanted to see a “clear connection” between their classes and the jobs they’d like down the road.  They also cited a better understanding of consequences, greater support of teachers, and more friends at school as factors that could make them attend more often.

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Filed under: At Home • Behavior • Carl Azuz • High school • Middle school
September 14th, 2012
11:45 AM ET

Interview with a parent on the impact of the strike

(CNN) CNN Student News conducted a Skype interview with Chicago parent Nino Rodriguez about how he and his family are dealing with the teachers' strike.

We asked him about his family's daily routine during this time and how he felt about the strike.

Rodriguez says, "We are always doing stuff at home.  You know, keeping them away from the computer, keeping them away from television and movies, which is what they want to run to first.  They must either do writing, reading or something like that."

He looks forward to his kids being back in class because he feels that they are losing valuable instructional time.

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Filed under: At Home • teacher unions • Teachers • video
My view:  To unions, Chicago is the next Wisconsin
Chicago school teachers picket outside Lane Tech College Prep High School on September 11, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois.
September 14th, 2012
04:36 AM ET

My view: To unions, Chicago is the next Wisconsin

Courtesy Illinois Policy InstituteBy Collin Hitt, Special to CNN.

Editor’s note: Collin Hitt is a senior fellow at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research foundation, and a Doctoral Academy Fellow at the University of Arkansas Department of Education Reform.

Shortly after President Obama took his historic oath of office, a small group of people back in his home state of Illinois gathered to negotiate a key issue of school reform. Before substantive discussions even began, a representative from the Chicago Teachers Union interjected: “For us,” she said, “this is about jobs.”

It was not about kids. It was not about results. It was not even about the issue at hand, charter schools. She said it was about jobs.

I was part of those negotiations, stunned at such frank selfishness. In the three years since, a national debate over education reform has been renewed. It’s become obvious that this stance was not unique to that moment, to that union or even to Illinois.

The battle over school reform is national, with support from both parties. The president has proposed reforms centered on better accountability for teachers and intense staffing changes at failing schools. Republicans have sought to give parents more school choice and more information.

But teachers unions have attempted to block those reforms at every turn. Exhibit A: this week’s strike by the Chicago Teachers Union.

At that meeting in 2009, we debated whether the number of charter schools in Chicago should be allowed to increase. The call seemed obvious. More than 30,000 kids were enrolled at Chicago charter schools, with another 15,000 or so on waiting lists. The schools were open to everybody but didn’t have enough seats. Research was piling up showing improved test scores and graduation rates for Chicago’s charter school students, who were almost all poor, black or Hispanic. But the unions opposed the expansion because charter schools didn’t have to hire union teachers. It didn’t matter that even Obama supported charter schools.

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Filed under: Policy • Politics • Practice • teacher unions • Teachers • Voices