March 10, 2016

Who Can Be Against Absenteeism? A Lot Of Reasons To Be, But Maybe Hack School Instead?

By Bellwether

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The Obama Administration is launching a commendable effort to address absenteeism. But what if absenteeism isn’t the core problem but rather a symptom? I look at that in U.S. News & World Report today:

SUN VALLEY, Idaho – The Obama administration is rolling out an initiative to combat absenteeism in schools. My kids? They are supposed to be in school but are in ski school instead. The administration’s initiative is targeting a real issue and a big problem in American education, so I certainly don’t mean to trivialize it. Teacher absenteeism, too, is another problem. But, honestly, for someone who works in education, when it comes to students, I’m surprisingly pro-hooky…

…The conventional wisdom is that tight-fisted politicians or standardized tests are the barriers to more field trips or authentic experiences. (Just look at your Facebook News Feed.) Fundamentally, though, it’s a lack of imagination and our adherence to traditional models of schooling.

Educators know there are opportunities all around them – at museums, civic institutions, local businesses and, yes, at the river. In addition to common sense, there is some evidence that these experiences are not only engaging but enriching for students when they’re done well (and help, not hinder, on tests). But choices we make about time, efficiency and resources block the door. Some schools do this but we hold them up as interesting outliers or conversation pieces, rather than ideas for what should be more the norm.

So rather than just fret over absenteeism, let’s encourage it. But in a more structured way that works for all kids and changes rather than buttresses our current educational arrangements. All the kids missing school – whatever the reason and whatever they’re doing – they’re telling us something if we stop to listen.

You can read the entire thing, including more on the administration’s effort here.  Tweet me your school skipping stories or castigate me for my lax parenting style @arotherham.

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