I was surprised by how lousy our attendance was, though I guess I shouldn't have been. No, it was not as bad as The Snow Day That Wasn't a Snow Day 2011, but still, not as good as I would have thought it would be. My upstairs neighbors have two elementary-school-aged girls, maybe 7 and 10, and judging by the volume of their exasperated mother by December 31st, children and parents alike were looking forward to school starting again. But maybe that's just the little ones. The high schoolers have taken their sweet time getting back to the business of learning. I'm not sure if it was the weather, the holiday break, or a pernicious combination of both, but attendance has definitely suffered for the first two days of the New Year.
So it was with a sad sense of recognition that I read this commentary from a charter school principal in Manhattan, lamenting, as just one example, a child who had missed 30 days of school so far this year. 30 days. That's a month and a half of school days. Tell me how well you think this child can read or do math, or what this child knows about history or science. Something tells me this kid wasn't at home memorizing the Encyclopedia Britannica. And, as the author of the commentary notes, how well is this child being prepared for the real world, in which more than a few days' absence without a medical excuse will often find one summarily fired?
And guess who will be blamed for this child's lack of success in the classroom?