March 22, 2014
How do you change a culture of chronic absenteeism in Baltimore City? It's like eating an elephant; you have to take one bite at a time ("City principals face discipline for student absenteeism," March 16). After coordinating an attendance initiative in Baltimore City and working to help urban school districts improve school attendance, there are a few things I know for sure. It takes collaboration to educate parents, students and school staff on attendance policy and procedure. It takes resources to remove barriers to attendance and it takes consistency to hold all parties accountable in making sure children attend school on a daily basis.
March 17, 2014
Baltimore City principals are criticizing interim schools CEO Tisha Edwards' decision to hold them accountable for high rates of chronic absenteeism among their students. The principals say it's the parents' fault if children don't come to class and that schools can't be expected to fix all the problems in students' homes that keep them from showing up. But while it's certainly true that some parents are lax about getting their kids to school and need to shape up, that doesn't mean principals are justified in simply throwing up their hands and insisting there's nothing more they can do. The manner and timing of Ms. Edwards' action left much to be desired - she put a third of city principals on performance improvement plans without much warning and with only three months left in the school year - but the policy is spot-on.
October 7, 2013
I appreciated your recent editorial, "The value of showing up" (Sept. 29) because it shed some much needed light on the issue of tracking chronic absenteeism. Left unchecked, chronic absenteeism in the pre-K and kindergarten years will snowball into poor academic performance and a higher risk for dropping out of high school. The good news is that with effective interventions, research has shown that patterns of poor attendance can be reversed. The most effective strategies for reducing chronic absenteeism require collaboration between the schools, their nonprofit partners, and the parents.
September 29, 2013
A few years ago, Franklin Square Elementary/Middle School Principal Terry Patton was trying to figure out how to get more of her students to attend school regularly when she hit on a novel idea: Get a washing machine and dryer. From talking to her students and their parents, she had learned that many children didn't come to school every day because they were ashamed of wearing dirty uniforms, and their families don't have laundry facilities at home. So Ms. Patton got a non-profit group to donate a washer-dryer to the school and told her students they could use it. Soon, children who had been skipping school two or three days a month started showing up regularly for class.
May 17, 2013
Sometimes, the same old solutions are inadequate for stubborn problems. New directions must be found. So it is with overcrowding in the Baltimore County Public School system. The county has too few bricks-and-mortar schools for the number of students attending. The problem is chronic and unlikely to improve - projections show county public school attendance rising in the years to come. Exacerbating the problem is the troubled economy, which is forcing parents to switch from private to public schools to save tuition costs.
November 13, 2012
In the hours after 17-year-old Daniel Borowy was shot in the cafeteria of Perry Hall High School on the first day of school in August, allegedly by a 15-year-old schoolmate, doctors at the Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore had to use more than 10 units of donated blood to replace what he had lost. Borowy, whose shooting prompted a broad review of safety procedures in Baltimore County schools, needed still more blood through three surgeries to repair his wounds, particularly the hole in his torso.