Advocate editorial board opinion: We must work together to get students in school

March 14, 2012 at 6:01 p.m.
Updated March 13, 2012 at 10:14 p.m.

If students aren't in school, they can't learn.

That's an obvious statement, yet less clear is the solution to Victoria's attendance problem at its two high schools. Victoria falls behind comparable districts in Texas in terms of consistently getting students to attend school.

District leaders called the community's attention to this challenge during a recent meeting. They asked for the public's help in addressing this problem and heightening the value the community places on education. Clearly, parents must take the first step in valuing education by making sure their children are in class and ready to learn.

While education starts at home, the community can play a big role, too. This is why district leaders encouraged community members to brainstorm ideas during the recent meeting. Here are some of those suggestions:•  Provide incentives for attendance at 30-day mark.

•  Make education relevant.

•  Offer vocational opportunities that will allow students to become employable.

•  Students must feel wanted in class.

•  Give incentives to elementary parents who improve attendance.

•  Foster relationships.

•  Hire bachelor-level parent liaisons at all middle schools.

•  Educate parents on importance of attendance - during registration have a face-to-face presentation, in which parents must participate. When it is appropriate to miss school? When to schedule doctor's appointments? How to get notes turned in? How to check attendance?

•  Use a systematic approach to outreach - meet with smaller groups of civic, church groups and community groups to provide outreach for attendance.

•  Focus on ninth-grade transition - must focus and start with eighth grade.

•  Offer transition services for students moving from school to school.

•  Every student in ninth grade should have "AVID" curriculum as an elective. (AVID offers personalized attention for at-risk students.)

•  Math and science classes should be every day.

•  Offer more mental health services on campuses to deal with anxiety.

•  Offer more incentives.

•  Encourage support from other students.

•  Offer programs that encourage the importance of education.

•  Focus on student responsibility.

•  Provide accountability not just for schools and teachers, but also for students.

•  Change method of delivery. Change the school day. Many students need to work, so regular class day does not fit.

•  Make the classes more relevant - pair up math/science with our Career and Technology Institute classes.

•  Provide online learning opportunities.

•  Allow school district to get rid of ineffective teachers.

•  Offer school 24/7.

•  Offer employer incentive/disincentive.

•  Provide public service announcements in Spanish involving the community.

•  Ask fast-food franchise owners to ID apparent students at lunchtime.

•  Set attainable education goals for the majority of students - high school diploma.

•  Insist businesses stop serving or working with kids not in school during the day.

•  Legislature needs to set accountability for what is home-schooling.

•  Make learning interesting. Apply it to real world

•  Engage leaders who will bring the motivation for better vision/values to be embraced.

•  Sanction parents when their children fail to attend.

•  Incorporate more opportunities for student involvement.

•  Put systems in place at the schools to allow students to make up the gaps in their education.

Of these many ideas, which resonate with you? What would you add to the equation?

Our schools are counting on all of us. Our community's future depends upon how well we respond.



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