Since states allocate money to school districts based on their average daily attendance, high absentee rates mean fewer funds for other resources (“Getting serious about student absenteeism at L.A. Unified," Los Angeles Times, Dec. 28). That’s why it’s essential to ask why many students miss 15 or more days of school in many districts.
I submit that when students see little connection between what they are forced to study and their future, they are inclined to stay home. The obsession with college for all is counterproductive in this regard. What would happen if schools instead placed greater emphasis on vocational studies? I think students would be more motivated to attend classes.
Instead, districts persist in counseling all students to apply to college regardless of trheir aptitude or interest. It’s a prescription for disaster, as the data show. Yet I see little attempt to accord vocational education the status it deserves. Germany, which has the lowest youth unemployment rate in Europe, has long employed a dual system of education. It’s high time for schools in this country to follow Germany’s model. But I doubt that will happen because vocational education is seen as inferior to academic education.
The opinions expressed in Walt Gardner’s Reality Check are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.