- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
- John Edwards back in court — this time as a lawyer for Va. boy’s malpractice case
- Covered California reports more than 200K in overtime Obamacare sign-ups
- Thanks, Chuck: Hagel says U.S. sending Ukraine sleeping mats, helmets
- HUMPRHIES: The Liberal Bully of the Week is …
- Secret Service threatened to kill Mr. Met if he got close to Clinton, mascot claims
- Sarah Palin to campaign for Senate candidate Ben Sasse in Nebraska
- Boise business entices customers to come break stuff — ‘recreational destruction’
- Fired Yahoo exec’s $60 million golden parachute may be a record
SIMMONS: Gray, council AWOL on D.C. truancy
What, precisely, is D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray doing to combat school truancy?
D.C. lawmakers have positioned themselves to receive answers Tuesday, when the Committee of the Whole and the Committee on the Judiciary are slated to hold an oversight hearing.
But let’s be frank.
Two of the largest beneficiaries of chronic truancy are school systems, which get to keep money whether students are in class or not, and supporters of the status quo, who claim more money is needed to ensure class sizes are manageable.
And know this, too: Enrollment figures are collected early in one school year to help determine how much money school officials want for the start of the next school year.
In sum, the school system always stands to gain while the chronically truant school-age children are likely to end up inside the criminal justice system.
Hence, the council’s joint committee roundtable.
So lawmakers should fire up the hot seats.
The problem: According to the D.C. Office of the Inspector General, overall truancy rates rose from 16 percent to 20 percent in school years 2006-07 to 2008-09, then declined to 15 percent in 2009-10. Worst of all, school officials learned this year that the high-school chronic truancy rate is an abominable 39 percent, which means a student has at least 15 unexcused absences.
The excuses:It’s the parents and teachers. “Many of our parents aren’t able to be good parents, quite frankly, because we failed them as students.” That’s Chancellor Kaya Henderson speaking, and she also has cited classroom instruction that sometimes wants you to “pluck your eyelashes out.”
But hold on. There’s more.
Pick an excuse for truancy — poverty, homelessness, transportation, hunger, domestic abuse, pregnancy, disability, family substance abuse, crime victimization, sexual abuse, inadequate clothing, unemployment, the economy, lack of access to health care.
Some real, honest-to-goodness reasons: Student tracking and interagency data-sharing regarding students are practically nonexistent, according to the inspector general.
In other words, the school system does a mighty fine job of counting heads at the beginning of a school year, but in order to ensure their coffers remain flush they do not necessarily need to know whether Raul, Ronica and Robert return to the classroom — until the start of the next school year.
What a sham.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...
- SIMMONS: Food police are leaving your school kids unfed
- SIMMONS: Disinterest among voters hard for Republicans, independents to weather
- SIMMONS: Put adults in hot seat for system's failure, for Relisha's sake
- SIMMONS: City can't bear leaders' silence in missing girl case
- SIMMONS: Rev. Wilson backs Shallal in D.C. Dems' mayoral primary
Latest Blog Entries
TWT Video Picks
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- Joe Biden's first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- John Edwards back in court this time as a lawyer for Va. boy's malpractice case
- Pentagon extends deployment of fighter jets to Poland
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch wrecked by retreating feds
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.