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Letters: Trimming truancy in California

March 13, 2014
  • California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is seen on Monday during a news conference in Sacramento discussing the package of bills she is supporting to help deal with the state's elementary school truancy problem.
California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris is seen on Monday during a news conference… (Rich Pedroncelli / Associated…)

Re "Harris calls truancy a 'crisis,'" March 11

Truancy is one of those easy metrics to monitor, if not control. Harder is providing the kind of education that makes students — wait for it, wait for it — want to go to class.

Large school-system bureaucracies lack the administrative agility and wisdom to challenge the assumption that it's normal for kids to hate school. "But at least we can force them to come to school" is the lazy response.

The problem isn't that kids fail to attend; it is that our schools fail to give them a reason to attend that makes sense to them. We don't need to make math "fun" for kids, but we do need to give it a context that any adult would demand from a non sequitur.

Michael Smith

Long Beach

I agree with California Atty. Gen. Kamala D. Harris that truancy is a crisis. However, all the proposals to "keep kids in school" will not resolve the underlying cause of the problem.

Parents are at a loss to understand the teach-to-the-test mentality that dominates current teaching and the lack of exciting learning opportunities in non-academic subjects. Students are burdened with text anxiety and expectations of technical proficiency.

If students, with their parents' strong support, do make it to high school, there is little there to prepare them for healthy living (food preparation and physical education) or careers (vocational training). Why bother to stay in school?

Ruby L. Trow


I agree that truancy is a serious concern in elementary schools and that student truancy often portends more critical problems. But it's not clear to me that the proposed solutions will solve anything.

Do we know why students are truant? In the Title I elementary school where I volunteer, teachers have learned that some students are habitually late because there's no alarm clock available to them. When someone provides a clock, truancy usually stops.

Maybe we need more tools to understand truancy and to help students attend school on time rather than more legislation.

Gila Jones

San Juan Capistrano

Schools, the state and counties are being blamed for not doing enough to see that children are in school every day. What about the parents, who bear the responsibility of getting their kids to school?

We don't need more programs. We need to start holding adults accountable. Quit making it easy for people to stand by and let society do their job.

These parents will never step up to the plate if someone else does it for them.

Kate Fields



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