Parents, not kids to blame for poor school attendance

By Observer editorial December 15, 2011 04:36 pm

La Grande schools are going all out to boost attendance this year and those efforts should be applauded.

Attendance has declined and tardiness has risen over the last five years, according to Superintendent Larry Glaze, and La Grande schools are taking positive steps to reverse that trend.

But the key is for parents to support those efforts by making sure their kids get to school on time each day.

It is critical that children establish an early pattern of regularly attending school and maintain it. Studies have found that children who have bad attendance patterns in kindergarten are less likely to graduate from high school.

So it is great that innovative ways of encouraging school attendance are being tried in La Grande.

At Greenwood Elementary, three students who arrive on time are selected every day in a drawing and the winners each receive a prize such as a fancy pencil or a gift card.

Greenwood students with good attendance records also have a chance to earn a coveted Giant Pride Card.

Those who have serious attendance problems are invited to enter into a contract between the students, their parents and the school. Each time a student who signs a contract comes to school, that student receives a token that can be exchanged for a prize.

Over at Island City Elementary, an attendance club has been established to help students who are missing too much school. Children in the club check in each time they come to school and, if they attend school five days in a row, they are rewarded with prizes.

The attendance rates of those students has improved

dramatically since the club was started, according to Principal John Tolan.

But there is only so much schools can do to encourage attendance.

Ultimately, it is parents who must be held accountable for their children’s attendance and not the students themselves.

If parents pull their kids out of school constantly or for  extended periods, the kids may begin to think that school is not important.

And we all know the importance of getting a good education if children are to become productive, successful adults.

So cheers to the schools for finding ways to boost student attendance.

But jeers to parents who don’t make sure their children attend school on time and as often as possible.