School attendance should be a high priority. The well-being of young people depends on it. – Chicago Tribune
When I was young, my friends and I did chores around the house like cutting grass, raking leaves, and shoveling snow. It wasn’t a big deal because it was the wait. My brother and I were lucky to have parents who paid an allowance, but that didn’t mean we had a choice not to do what was expected of us. Our parents wanted to teach us the value of a dollar and the reward that comes with hard work.
These days, I often see parents doing yard work and other chores for their children. I often wonder: why don’t they force their children to do it? How will their children learn to value hard work? And what impact will this have on these children as they grow up?
Our young people are impressionable. What they value, what they believe in and what they do on a daily basis is often based on what they see, hear and are allowed to do. When I asked parents and neighbors why they didn’t let their children do chores, the answer was often, “My child is lazy. It’s the same discussion I’ve had with parents and others about school attendance. The answer is often the same: “My child is lazy”.
There was a time when we dared not miss school unless it was an emergency. Attending it was a priority. We enjoyed perfect attendance, for which we received honors and other rewards. In some ways, achieving perfect attendance was just as high as achieving outstanding academic grades, as it exemplified dedication.
For far too many people, this is no longer the case. Student absenteeism is a major problem, according to findings from the US Department of Education’s Civil Rights Data Collection. In the 2015-2016 school year, several years before the pandemic, more than 7 million students missed 15 or more days of school. This represents approximately 16% of the student population. About 800 school districts across the country reported that 30% of their students missed at least three weeks of school.
COVID-19 has exacerbated the problem, which is understandable to some extent. The last two years – the uncertainty, the fear and the need to prevent the transmission of the virus – have been very difficult for the families. However, as the data shows, even before the pandemic, it was clear that far too many students were missing days of school they shouldn’t have missed.
The implications are considerable. According to the US Department of Education, students with chronic absenteeism are more likely to drop out of school and have poor grades.
The problem gets worse as students get older. Chronic absenteeism is most pronounced in high school, affecting about 1 in 5 students. When they leave high school, these same students are more likely to live in poverty, have poor health and struggle with the criminal justice system.
Student attendance must again be a priority. School districts across the country have strict guidelines to follow when it comes to student attendance. The Every Student Succeeds Act signed by President Barack Obama in 2015 requires school districts to report on five indicators of school performance, including one non-academic indicator: Many schools chose chronic absenteeism.
However, the problem is not something that schools alone can solve. While schools can encourage students to attend school, set up committees to study and remedy it, and have officials visit students’ homes, it is parents who set the stage for instilling the value of hard work. fierce. And going to school every day is proof of that.
It is not enough to simply say: “My child is lazy”. What we ask our children to do, like cutting grass and raking leaves, can affect how they value other things in life, like going to school or working.
The American workforce needs a population that believes in hard work. In 1990, labor force participation rates were nearly 65% for people aged 16 to 24, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Since 2002, these numbers have continued to decline, except for a few years when there has been a slight increase.
It is time to expect more from our young people. Having them come to school every day, unless they are sick, can affect the quality of their life as they get older. It is essential that authority figures such as parents have conversations with young people about the broad implications of every decision young people make in terms of building resilience and establishing good habits for the future. .
Developing a strong work ethic in our young people is essential to improving their lives and the American workforce. After all, “a dream doesn’t magically come true; it takes sweat, determination and hard work,” as former Secretary of State Colin Powell once said. We want our young people to dream big and be what they want in life. If we emphasize the value of hard work, it makes achieving those dreams more possible.
So this school year, parents, let’s make school a priority.
Jerald McNair is a school administrator at South Holland Illinois School District 151.
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