According to the website dosomething.org, in the U.S. a high school student drops out every 26 seconds. On top of that, data shows that 75 percent of all crimes are committed by high school drop-outs. California Attorney General Kamala Harris and lawmakers have decided to get a head start to try and stop this trend before students reach high school.
It is estimated that one million California students who are in elementary school are truant per year. Harris is introducing a new bill which would require counties to create a school attendance board with the goal of finding out why students aren’t showing up for school. The lawmakers know that collecting data won’t stop the outside problems that affect these student,s but they know that it’s a start that’ll help them understand the exact problems keeping kids at home.
Isai Gonzalez, a local high school graduate, used to spend a lot of school days sick leading to him falling behind in school.
“I would miss a lot of school but there was really nothing I could to, it ended up affecting me because when I went back to school I had all the old work plus the new work,” said Gonzalez. “I had to go to home school just to catch up and relieve stress, but teachers hardly ever wondered why I was absent.”
California has a 29.6 percent truancy rate among elementary students. Although the reasons which cause that aren’t exactly known, Gonzalez thinks it has to do with problems in the home.
“When I was in elementary school kids would always miss, sometimes kids I knew would miss because they had nothing to wear or because their parents were working to support them,” said Gonzalez. “Other kids were getting bullied and were too scared to come to school.”
According to a website on truancy, students from kindergarten to third grade who miss 20 or more days of school are associated with low test scores and even substance abuse.
“I had some friends who would get bullied a lot by the older kids in elementary school from getting their lunch taken to getting made fun of. They wouldn’t come to school and started to deal with with different issues and countered that by turning to drugs like marijuana,” said Gonzalez.
Students who are absent cost the district 1.4 billion dollars annually, and with this new bill the state hopes to get a better understanding of why kids are truant. As senator Bill Monning puts it, the goal is stopping the “school to prison pipeline”.