Mayor and Superintendent Salute Students Whose Success Starts With Attendance
In a move that mirrored his recent "truancy blitzes," Rochester Superintendent Bolgen Vargas went door-to-door in the city Tuesday, this time congratulating students for perfect attendance so far this school year.
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"Hi, how are you? I'm Tom Richards."
Over and over, the mayor and superintendent went door-to-door, congratulating perfect attendance at school.
"Congratulations, you have perfect attendance and we are very proud of you," said Vargas.
"We will never be the city we want to be if this school district is not good," said Richards, (D), Rochester mayor.
The facts back him up. Rochester, the city with the lowest graduation rate in the state for 2011, just saw its unemployment rate tick up to 9.1 percent Tuesday; up nearly two percent since last year. Those low job numbers have followed stagnant graduation rates over the past decade.
While city school drop-out rates are not readily available, consider this national statistic: Every 26 seconds, a kid drops out of high school.
It's a result of students missing school. Research shows that missing just 18 days of school gives children a drastically higher chance of dropping out. More than a thousand city students here have missed half of the year.
"There is an expectation that you attend, and plenty of people buy into that, and plenty of people are doing it," said Richards.
So Tuesday, a pilgrimage to show that Rochester cares.
"Thank you very much for doing it! Because that's great!"
And some sage advice from those young kids, who make school a priority.
"I like to get my education," said Erica Guzman. "So I can pass all my grades and hopefully go to college. So I can be a good person, and learn how to do the right things and not the bad things."
Many factors go into the issue of graduation rates and attendance. Both Richards and Vargas, though, said the main focus ought to be parents.
Some city schools have dismal attendance rates in the K-3 level, and both men say without disciplined parenting, that's just not going to improve.