Editorial: Empty schools show uncertain future for absentee students

Students attend a lecture in Laurel Hall (File Photo/The Daily Campus)

With this year’s flu season currently in full swing, the amount of empty seats in every class seems to be at an all time high. Around this time of year, it is extremely common for people to be absent from school and missing a few days or even week of class. While this is stressful, work can be made up without too much trouble. Recent studies, however, have found that there are many more reasons that students are missing school other than just a week-long illness and as these absences increases they present much more threatening consequences.

Chronic absenteeism has become a large issue for America’s public schools. According to Attendance Works, between 5 and 7.5 million students miss at least a month of school each school year. While these absences are sometimes related to illness, more often than not there are other reasons that students are missing large quantities of school, typically attributed to a student’s socioeconomic status and school environment.

This issue has recently been brought into the public eye due to a recent report about Ballou High School in Washington D.C.. This report found that students had been graduating from the school, despite missing large quantities of school that should have prevented them from passing their year of classes. Through this report, the district found that a “culture of passing” was putting pressure on teachers and administrators to not fail students in order to maintain a high reputation for the school, as well as for the individual teachers. Unfortunately, this phenomenon is not isolated. Other schools in districts across the country are currently being investigated for this same type of scandal and others that aim to make their district’s performance appear high.

By cheating the system in this way, it is unfortunately the students that are losing in the end. With the need for at least a high school education to obtain a job in many fields, it is unfair that students are missing out on the education they need to succeed, and are instead just being passed over and handed their diplomas. While that piece of paper may be required for many, it is really the education that comes with the diploma that is necessary to succeed.

As students at a top-tier university, we at UConn understand the need for success in K-12 schools later in life. However, there are many students who do not understand the importance of a K-12 education, which only adds to their lack of willingness to attend schools. If we hope to address this issue of completing a high school education in the future, we must first address the root of the issue, and understand that it is both the motivation of the students and the faculty whose motivations need to be changed. Only after people become informed on how education can benefit them can we hope to see change.