Truancy down in Oakland schools

You might have seen Jill Tucker’s piece in the Chronicle yesterday on the 23 percent drop in truancy this year in San Francisco schools, an improvement attributed to a parental prosecution policy and other citywide efforts.

The Oakland school district has its own campaign to boost attendance (and state funding), called Attend and Achieve. District staff say it seems to have had a big impact — well, at the elementary and middle school levels, anyway.

Here are the numbers.

Katy Murphy

Education reporter for the Oakland Tribune. Contact me at kmurphy@bayareanewsgroup.com.

  • Nextset

    Truancy at the earlier levels of schooling is not the main problem. K-8 students do not have the same ability as the older children to vote with their feet and quit public schools. For the younger children, school is where their friends, food and entertainment are. As they get older they can find all 3 elsewhere.

    The measure of the value a public school system has is how many teenagers keep coming to school. If the school system has little value the teens walk away. If the school can’t engage it’s students and keep them coming in, the program there needs to change.

  • harlemmoon

    Katy: I’d double check the numbers.
    This program’s effectiveness was actually questioned a few years ago and there was rampant discussion (at the administrator level) that it might be scrapped.
    That the program now reports such “successful” numbers makes me think someone’s playing voodoo with the data.

  • ProStudent

    There are soooo many things wrong with prosecuting parents for truancy . . . Truancy–especially at the high school level is outrageous . . . but that is not the way to handle it.

  • Katy Murphy

    Yes, I do have some questions about this data, which I’ve asked district staff about, and hopefully I’ll be able to post more information soon.

    My main issue is that the 2007-08 numbers include absences from the entire school year, while the 2008-09 statistics only go through April 30. Staff say those figures won’t change much between then and the end of the year, but it seems to me that five weeks is five weeks…

    I think a full, apples-to-apples comparison is due out next week.

  • Catherine

    If we prosecuted parents for student’s truancy in elementary and middle school, the number of parents and students left to work with would be minimal at the high school level.

    First warning parents for tardiness / truancy. Second incident Saturday school for everyone (all parents / guardians and student in question). Third incident referral to prosecute.

  • Nextset

    Catherine: Prosecution services and police agencies have no time and resources at all nowadays for your truancy cases. Not going to happen.

    Best you can do is to cut off their welfare if the don’t have their kids in school. Or block the driver’s licenses for the teens.

    And look to the school’s own budget problems lately. We are seeing mass layoffs of teaching staff and cuts in school operations. Maybe the answer is no wasting money chasing after people and begging them to come to your school. Let them go. Or have a program they will beg you to be allowed to attend.

    Pro Student: If people violate the law they need to pay the price. And there are a lot of laws you can sit around violating. I have no problem with a criminal referral for child abuse and child neglect (although I approve of spanking). I just don’t want the schools thinking they can rely on the services of other agencies that are too busy nowadays to do very much about this. There will always be people – families – who are too dull and too degenerate to include in your educational programs at the present. We shouldn’t neglect the better kids pouring too much resources trying to “save” the people that are headed for jail/nuthouse/morgue no matter what.