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Attendance Matters: Efforts to Prioritize Getting to School

PHOTO: The California Legislature has declared September School Attendance Awareness Month, in an effort to urge families, communities and schools to prioritize student attendance. Photo credit: Humboldt State University.
PHOTO: The California Legislature has declared September School Attendance Awareness Month, in an effort to urge families, communities and schools to prioritize student attendance. Photo credit: Humboldt State University.
September 12, 2014

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California kids are back in school - and now the goal is to keep them going back.

State leaders have come together to declare September as "School Attendance Awareness Month." Assemblymember Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, who authored the recently passed resolution, said the first step is showing up.

"We've got to basically say to parents and kids that attendance is important, that it is something you can do," she said, "and having your child ready and available to go to school is extremely important."

Weber was joined by other leaders at the state Capitol on Thursday to announce California's involvement in a national initiative to raise awareness around reducing chronic absence in schools.

Weber said the state's estimated 250,000 chronically absent students struggle when they are in the classroom.

"Those students, when we track them, we discover that they're also the same children who have issues with behavior, they have issues with academic excellence," she said. "They become the ones suspended, expelled and eventually, who drop out of school."

She said everyone needs to help reduce chronic absenteeism.

"As we ask for teachers to do more and schools to do more," she said, "that every parent and every family in every community ought to do more, to make sure that every child is in school every day and ready to learn."

State Superintendent Tom Torlakson agreed that everyone has a part in preparing California's children for brighter futures. He said California schools can have the best facilities, materials and teachers in the world - but no school can reach a child who simply isn't there.

The text of the resolution, ACR 149, is online at leginfo.legislature.ca.gov.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA