The Teachers' Scrounge

News and comments from the world of public education. A middle school math teacher shared what he learned today.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Go to school!

You may have seen that in Jacksonville, Florida, 15 parents were arrested this week because their children have been ditching school. Reports say that the children were ages 7-15 and each had more than 20 unexcused absences. Here's a short article (second story down). However, this isn't the first time Jacksonville has conducted one of these truancy sweeps and arrested parents.

Obviously, truancy is an important issue. Recently in San Antonio, reporters set up a camera filming high school students hanging out at nearby fast-food restaurants during school hours.

Fort Worth ISD began a program in 2000 that has become a model for reducing truancy. You can find a summary of their program at the Center for Public Education. The "Comprehensive Truancy Intervention Program" is indeed comprehensive. According to the State Comptroller, the program "is a collaborative effort between the FWISD, Tarrant County District Attorney's Office, FWPD, Tarrant County Juvenile Probation Department, Lena Pope Home, mental heath and social service providers and community-based organizations." Did I mention it involves a prosecutor from the DA's office assigned full-time?

The idea was to prevent truancy in a positive manner. Parents and students are educated about the dangers associated with truancy. Conferences are held with student, parents, school officials, district attorney, and counselors to see how to remove barriers to school attendance and how to make up missing credit. If the problems persist, the case is referred to a municipal judge, but truancy cases were reduced by 1,000 when the program was implemented.

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