OPINION
Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Absenteeism is not solely the teacher’s problem

5x5 300dpi Ed Keener 10-23-15 DR270

I taught school in another era, before the turn of the century, 1967-76; in a time when a public school education meant something different than it does today. Yes, there were kids who missed school, who missed a lot of school, but their numbers were small in comparison to today’s significant absenteeism. One of the sad outcomes from the covid epidemic is the school absentee epidemic. And because of the trend to not attend school the epidemic continues in a different form.

The loud and clear message from the governor and some legislators (state education money will be based on attendance not registration) is that this absentee epidemic is “your local school district problem, the class room teacher problem, the school board and administrators problem, and the student’s problem” not the state’s problem. Yet the state is responsible for a free and equitable education for Idaho students. The state has resources that most school districts do not have to encourage
parents and their children to get back into school. Even better the state of Idaho, State Department of Education and school districts could come together to collaborate on the concerns around low school attendance to help get students back into school. ” What can we do together to increase student attendance?”

This problem of low attendance has an impact on teacher moral and brings up the question of whether or not to continue teaching. Imagine preparing lessons to engage students with classrooms partly empty and with students apathetic to learning. This is not solely “the teacher’s problem.” Its an immediate problem with long range consequences to the futures of these students, their families of the future and the economics of our state. These should certainly be of concern to state leadership and the Department of Education.

Ed Keener

Ed Keener

Ed Keener is a retired elementary school teacher and Presbyterian Church pastor. He is the board president of the Kessler Keener Foundation (kesslerkeenerfoundation.org). The Foundation's mission is to amplify the voices of people underrepresented and marginalized in majority white society.

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