Message from Jim: Find sand, bury head

According to the most recent “Message from Jim” update on the SC Dept of Education website, October is now “Attendance Awareness Month.”

A quick search of the Internet shows that October is also “Adopt a Shelter Dog Month,” “Church Library Month,” Sarcasm Awareness Month,” “Self-Promotion Month” and “Workplace Politics Month

Rex is encouraging schools, local businesses, and parents to band together and stop students from playing hooky.

To emphasize the seriousness of the situation, Rex declares “Every day when South Carolina teachers call the roll, more than 26,000 students are not in their seats.”

If this number is true, it would mean a little over three percent of students around the state are not in class when the bell rings every morning. No mention is made about whether those absent students are gone because of a runny nose, or days taken off for family reasons. We are hoping that of the relatively small percentage of students absent from school, an even smaller number is out vandalizing and having “encounters with law enforcement.”

This would be an excellent opportunity for Rex to take aim at the much larger and more devastating problem of school dropouts, but that would entail admitting a problem, something Rex’s administration has studiously avoided.

Rex isn’t willing to talk about the number of students dropping out of SC public schools, but it isn’t because he doesn’t know about it.

Earlier this year, “The Voice” publicized the results of Education Week’s “Diplomas Count” report. The study indicates that approximately 158 students drop out every day from South Carolina high schools!
Another report this year shows that only 49% of South Carolina students graduate high school in four years, a far cry from the 70% reported by the SC Department of Education.

These numbers make Rex’s feeble “Attendance Awareness” platitudes look like the cop-out it is.
Then again, can parents honestly expect an appropriate response to the massive dropout rate from the same people that refuse to acknowledge how bad things really are?

Talking about 26,000 students not being in class (for any number of legitimate or illegitimate reasons) is just a way for Rex to grab for political points without ever acknowledging the 343,000 kids who won’t graduate on time, if they do at all.

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6 responses to “Message from Jim: Find sand, bury head

  1. Note carefully that Rex says “MORE than 26,000”. I bet it’s a LOT more.

    One point I would add is that while students don’t have much choice in our current system, they do have the basic choice to either attend or not. The fact that 50% of high school age students choose NOT to attend is a damning indictment of our public school system. For too many students, the curriculum is simply not relevant or compelling.

  2. teacher's pet

    How about the fact that he didn’t even ATTEND a meeting of department heads with the governor about budget cuts that was held with all heads of state agencies?

    Maybe one way to help with the budget crisis is to curtail his travel…especially since his department’s budget is the largest in the state and he couldn’t be troubled to attend a meeting about it…

  3. teacher's pet

    Interesting that Rex is talking about attendance, when his own ATTENDANCE was an issue earlier this week. He heads the state agency with the largest chunk of the state budget, but couldn’t be bothered to meet with the governor and other agency heads to discuss the budget crisis and cuts–too busy wasting more tax dollars on his travel…

  4. BUDGET.

    They say budget but they should have placed an s in this to accurately describe where a LOT of the educational funds are going. The proper spelling should be bud-S-get.

    Our child was denied educational services in one of the states most premier school district’s as determined by the State Department of Educaiton as well as the Office of Civil Rights.

    Our School district addressed their shortcomings by inviting their attorney to join monthly meetings at a PREMIUM rate.

    With this attorney involved that our kid’s educatonal funds pay for, our school district proceded to ignore procedural safguards, retaliate against my child, refuse to provide any educational services for several years following.

    Any thime budget and funding are to be brought up by a school district, they should provide a breakdown of how much of our kid’s educational funds are being handed over to their buds. Their BudsGET quite a bit of educational funds for services that offer 0% benefit for our kids.

    Parents can not recover legal fees unless they win in Federal court.
    School Districts should be under these same restriction. They should be allowed to allocate an equal amount of money for legal services as they allocate for para-professionals that are hired to provide educational services. In the event that parents loose their case in a Federal court, the school district’s attorney should be entitled to a capped rate ($50.00)per hour for their services. IDEA was never intended to guarantee the wealth of local law firms.

    This would imediately put educational funds back into education and greatly reduce the retaliation that school districts are currently allowed to do using “their” attorney as a weapon against the child’s civil rights.

  5. Why has it taken him this long to bring up students missing class? Now when he does, it’s all about truancy, not DROP OUTS.You can’t fix a problem you don’t admit.

  6. Pingback: 56,000 drop outs later, Jim Rex holds “prevention summit” « The Voice for School Choice

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