Banks needs to get NYC schools absenteeism fixed, not the records

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Chronic absenteeism has hit a staggering 40% in the city public-school system, The Post’s Susan Edelman reported Sunday. That translates to about 375,000 children out of 938,000 registered students missing at least 10% of schooldays.

And that figure, up from 26% in the pre-COVID 2018-19 year, is an undercount: Kids who log in online or have nominal contact with a teacher while out with COVID or quarantined get marked present.

The question is: Will Chancellor David Banks stop the Department of Education bureaucrats from fixing the data, not the problem?

Post-pandemic school absenteeism is plaguing big-city school districts across America, as many parents retain (unfounded) fears about COVID transmission in school — and all too many kids got out of the habit of showing up every day. Yet chronic absenteeism (defined as missing 18 days or more of an academic year) often results in low achievement, truancy, dropping out, delinquency and substance abuse.

Far worse (in the educrats’ eyes), poor attendance figures imperil DOE’s bottom line: Much state and federal aid is pegged to the number of students in school on a daily basis.

So the DOE regulars have rushed to paper over the crisis, pushing principals to “correct” the absentee data. In a memo leaked on Twitter, DOE sets a goal of reducing chronic absenteeism citywide to 30%, with each district and school given a target to hit — and principals urged to review past attendance records to ensure that absences got coded correctly.

An empty classroom at Yung Wing School P.S. 124 shows that a teacher has prepared for the start of the school year on September 02, 2021 in New York City.
Sure, the Department of Education can rewrite attendance records, but it won’t stop the devastating effects of students missing out on lessons.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Hint, hint: Fudge the records, guys.

Yes, the DOE is also using some of its avalanche of federal funds to hire social workers and others to make home visits and otherwise get the kids coming to school more regularly. It probably needs to make every school expand its front office to ensure endless calls home (which means more effort to get working numbers) whenever a kid doesn’t show.

It should also revisit the de Blasio-era policy that says poor attendance can’t prevent promotion to the next grade.

It’s up to Banks to ensure the bureaucracy actually mends its ways on this front, as on all too many others.



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