More Than 1 in 4 Kids Are Chronically Absent From School, Report Shows

“Chronic absenteeism has increased across the board—affecting both wealthier and poorer districts. According to new data from the AEI, absenteeism increased from 10 percent in 2019 to 19 percent in 2023 in the richest school districts. In the poorest districts, absenteeism increased from 19 percent to a staggering 32 percent over the same time period.
Surprisingly, the length of school closures didn’t seem to impact the increase in absenteeism that much. Districts that were closed the longest saw absenteeism increase 12 percent, while those with the shortest closures saw a 10 percent increase.

However, things were even worse in years closer to pandemic closures. In 2022, for example, 28 percent of students were chronically absent. Overall, absenteeism rates fell from the 2021-2022 school year to the 2022-2023 school year in 33 of the 39 states reporting data. ”

https://reason.com/2024/04/02/more-than-1-in-4-kids-are-chronically-absent-from-school-report-shows/

Seattle Is Getting Rid of Gifted Schools in a Bid To Increase Equity

“When school districts get rid of advanced offerings in a bid to reduce racial inequality, they end up doing to opposite of what they claim to intend. While wealthier families can move to better school districts or enroll their children in private schools, smart—yet poor—kids end up getting stuck in “equitable” classrooms that leave them under-stimulated and ignored.”

https://reason.com/2024/04/04/seattle-is-getting-rid-of-gifted-schools-in-a-bid-to-increase-equity/

The State Superintendent at the Forefront of the GOP’s Education Crusade

“Walters has tried to use his office to back a courtroom battle over the nation’s first public religious charter school — a Catholic institution that would be financed by taxpayers but free to teach, enroll and expel students based on faith-based doctrines just like a private parochial school.”

https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2024/03/23/ryan-walters-religion-schools-oklahoma-00146826

The Real Student Loan Crisis Isn’t From Undergraduate Degrees

“There are real problems with America’s student loan system. But they mostly involve people who take on debt to pay for expensive graduate degrees.
Those problems are rooted in a little-known 2005 law that eliminated a cap on the amount of federal student loan debt that graduate students were allowed to take on. In the following decade and a half, the amount students borrowed for graduate school climbed.

Students weren’t just borrowing to pay for high-quality graduate programs. Some of the graduate programs that saw students take on the largest debt burdens were those that provided the least value in terms of quality instruction or earnings.

Graduate students, in other words, weren’t just taking on more debt. They were taking on more debt for less lucrative degrees, offered by programs eager to absorb federal loan dollars. Even as undergraduate degrees largely held their value, a bevy of newly subsidized graduate degrees have lured students into expensive programs of dubious quality.”

https://reason.com/2024/02/06/the-real-student-loan-crisis/

Why so many kids are still missing school

“Some of the latest absenteeism data reveals the staggering impact the pandemic has had on student attendance.
Before the pandemic, during the 2015–16 school year, an estimated 7.3 million students were deemed “chronically absent,” meaning they had missed at least three weeks of school in an academic year. (According to the US Department of Education, there were 50.33 million K-12 students that year.) After the pandemic, the number of absent students has almost doubled.

Chronic absenteeism increased in every state where data was made public, and in Washington, DC, between the last pre-pandemic school year, 2018–19, and the 2021–22 school year, according to data from Future Ed, an education think tank. Locations with the highest increases saw their rates more than double.”

“Experts point to deeper issues, some that have long troubled students and schools and others that are only now apparent in the aftermath of school shutdowns.

“When you see these high levels of chronic absence, it’s a reflection that the positive conditions of learning that are essential for motivating kids to show up to school have been eroded,” said Hedy Chang, the founder and executive director of Attendance Works, an organization that tracks attendance data and helps states address chronic absenteeism. “It’s a sign that kids aren’t feeling physically and emotionally healthy and safe. Belonging, connection, and support — in addition to the academic challenge and engagement and investments in student and adult well-being — are all so crucial to positive conditions for learning.”

Despite increased attention to the topic, chronic absenteeism is not exactly new — until recently, it was considered a “hidden educational crisis.”

“This has been an ongoing issue and it didn’t just all of a sudden appear because the pandemic arose. Folks have been trying to address this issue for years,” said Joshua Childs, an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin who studies absenteeism interventions in communities and states. “It’s historically mainly impacted students from disadvantaged communities and underserved populations.”

What’s new about chronic absenteeism is that it now affects students from a variety of demographic backgrounds, from those in the suburbs and rural areas to those in cities.”

“The root causes of chronic absenteeism are vast. Poverty, illness, and a lack of child care and social services remain contributors to poor attendance, and some communities continue to struggle with transportation challenges; the pandemic has brought on a youth mental health crisis that has caused students to miss school; parents have reframed how they think about illness, ready to keep their children home at the slightest signs of sickness.”

https://www.vox.com/2024/1/9/23904542/chronic-absenteeism-school-attendance

Teacher’s Union Sues to Stop New York Congestion Pricing Plan

“Because NEPA allows third parties to sue over allegedly inadequate environmental studies, it’s become a favorite tool of environmentalists, slow growth activists, and garden variety NIMBY (not in my backyard) trying to stop or delay infrastructure projects.”

https://reason.com/2024/01/05/teachers-union-sues-to-stop-new-york-congestion-pricing-plan/