EDITORIAL: Focus on school attendance policy

2013-03-05T00:00:00Z EDITORIAL: Focus on school attendance policy nwitimes.com
March 05, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Attendance has been a big problem for Roosevelt College and Career Academy during the school's first year under EdisonLearning's control, just as it was when the Gary school district was in charge.

This is a major policy question that schools, and others, must deal with.

Students must learn that education is not for the benefit of the faculty, but for the students themselves.

And yet Vanessa Ronketto, who serves as Roosevelt's school superintendent, said only 61 percent of the school's 148 seniors showed up for class in February. Attendance rates are poor for other grades as well.

Those students need intervention — fast — so they will stop harming themselves by skipping school.

In her book "Breaking Night," Elizabeth Murray tells of her experiences in school, out of school and finally back in school. This kind of inspirational story should be brought to students so they will learn skipping school harms them in the long run.

Don't just tell the students who attend school on a particular day about this, make sure the students skipping class hear true stories like this as well.

Veteran educator Bernard C. Watson, a Roosevelt High School graduate, recently spoke on how educators can improve the quality of public schools. Part of that improvement must come from students accepting responsibility for their actions, from learning how to be prepared for life after school.

This means not just parental involvement — which should be a given — but also alumni and others mentoring students, telling about life after high school and how the students should prepare themselves for it now.

Students must learn to accept responsibility for preparing for their own future. It begins by showing up for class.

Individual success is vital, because it collectively means societal success as well.

"The future of this country rests on education," Watson said last week. It's important to help young people make the connection between time and effort invested in something — whether homework, practicing a band instrument or simply showing up for class — and what they get out of it.

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