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Letters: Sounding alarms about truancy

October 04, 2013

Re "Taking roll in California," Opinion, Sept. 30

It's good to see California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris team up with U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to sound the alarm about truancy. Truancy predicts crime. It's a lot easier to get kids back to school than it is to deal with the aftermath for the rest of their lives.

Harris and Duncan suggest a tough policy: "Hold accountable everyone who bears responsibility for getting kids to school." But as former L.A. Unified School District Supt. Roy Romer pointed out on The Times' Op-Ed pages seven years ago, "About one in four of our students change schools in any given year because of family circumstances."

That transience indicates disrupted lives and families, not to mention kids thrown into unfamiliar surroundings. If we want to make a dent in truancy, we'd better focus not just on "accountability," but on a helping hand for these kids and families.

David Ewing


Decades of research have informed us about the negative effects of poverty on the education of a child. Simply put, the child who is truant from school and suffers from poor nutrition, medical care and parental neglect does not do as well as better-off students.

This should not surprise anyone.

What should surprise people is the fact that huge amounts of taxpayer money are wasted on iPads, invalid tests, charter schools and all kinds of "reforms" that have little proof that they will help anyone learn.

What might help are social workers, health clinics, prenatal care, high-quality preschool, parent education, expert teachers and small classes.

Linda Mele Johnson

Long Beach


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