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