Monday, October 19, 2009

Where have all the children gone?

Our school's enrollment is down, and attendance is lower than I've ever seen it. When I first started at my school, I routinely had between 25 and 30 students in my class each day. Now, I'm lucky if I get 12. Today, less than half of my students were in class, and last week the average was 55%. Now, the kids who are there every day are learning like FIENDS, but at this rate 45% of my kids are going to fail. So what gives?

Is attendance down at other schools? Anyone have any ideas? I've called home, posted notes in STARS (our student attendance and tracking system), and referred students to attendance counselors, but I'm not seeing much of a change. Is it some massive Rhee protest that no one's told us about?

I'm also getting a little annoyed with my students' parents. I've called the home of every kid in my classes, but haven't always had success in reaching parents. Apparently working phone numbers are a hot commodity. Even without a phone call, though, parents should be aware that their kids aren't in school. I've seen my students lie -- they aren't good at it. No homework, no assignments, no tests or grades or anything coming home -- you'd think parents would figure it out. So I'm frustrated, annoyed, and more than a little lonely. Where are my kids!?

13 comments:

Sam said...

My guess is that they are hanging outside the metro stations. They get dressed for school and then just hang out till 930, sometimes make it for first period and leave at lunch. My second period is always my fullest, but by 1 PM, I feel like the school is empty.

Diamond said...

Mr. Potter, I am a DCPS student and I have my theories. I attend The School Without Walls and we are prestigious (well for a dcps school we are) and there aren't many kids skipping class regularly. We have open campus and are generally treated more maturely than other DCPS high schools. Lately children have being saying "Why go to school when we're gonna die in 2012"

Glenn Watson said...

Swine flu???

Dee Does DC said...

I've noticed the same thing, although my (special education) students are always at school. I do have one student who has been out for over two weeks and Mom just says that he's sick.

I'm almost 99% certain our school has an H1N1 outbreak as well. Currently, 2/3 of the middle school staff has (or had) fairly severe flu-like symptoms. A lot of our students have been sick as well. I'm not sure what the elementary population is experiencing, but I'd wager they are feeling it too.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a combination of factors, but make sure Rhee doesn't hear you complain about students being absent or failing your class. Remember, it is the teacher's fault if students don't learn according to Rhee.

So put your Superman cape on and do the job that you were hired to do! Otherwise, you'll be lumped with the rest of the "incompetent" teachers and fired at the end year!!!

(Meanwhile, 825 does nothing about the truancy problem.)

meaningful change said...

There are probably a lot of reasons why there are so few students at your school. But I bet one reason is the fact that high school students can skip school everyday and still earn the necessary carnegie units through the evening credit recovery program. Or even easier is to get paid in the summer to take classes you failed during the school year and only have to do a quarter of the classwork. What a deal.

There is very little incentive for high school students who are not super motivated, to come to school on time every day and do their work.

But the mayor can tout how successful the summer jobs program is!

Anonymous said...

I know that in a school where there have been a lot of RIFs, there is also a lot of absenteeism among kids who lost teachers and had to combine with other classes.

And yes - Rhee would see the absenteeism as the teachers' fault for not being able to teach engaging lessons that bring the kids to school in droves.

Anonymous said...

"Apparently working phone numbers are a hot commodity."

are you just figuring this out now?

just me talkin said...

No new posts in about three weeks - what's going on? Other posts are also drying up - DC TEacher Chic, Dee Does the District.

I'm talking too said...

Just being paranoid, but hey, we work for DCPS where paranoia rules. Why no new posts? Were you riffed? Are you too busy doing lesson plans, preparing for your IMPACT observations, designing data sources for NVA? What's going on? Were you and other bloggers told to cool it and you're obeying orders? Hey, you're safe here and pretty much anonymous too. So where are you?

HereticTeacher said...

"Apparently working phone numbers are a hot commodity."

THIS IS SO FUNNY! Good comedy is only funny if the audience can relate easily to the subject. AND THIS WAS REALLY REALLY FUNNY! :)

Chic City Boutique said...

I am really really late reading this comment, however, this is scary. I must admit parents really need to step up to the plate and start taking responsiblity for the children. What is going on with our world. Lord help us. JOY

Anonymous said...

I am really late posting.

Have the kids shown up yet?

Note: you are a lot more thoughtful and objective than The Washington Teacher, which desperately needs competition. You might consider posting more frequently, but in much shorter bursts of thought. Easier. Thanks for your public service to the community as a Teacher.