California must act to reduce rampant truancy that saw an estimated 1 million elementary students absent in the last school year and may cost the state billions of dollars through increased crime and poverty, according to a study released last week by the state attorney general’s office.
“The empty desks in our public elementary school classrooms come at a great cost to California,” the report says. It calls for a broad battle against absenteeism that brings together parents, educators, lawmakers, law enforcement, and community groups.
The report was based on information from about 550 elementary schools, as well as surveys and interviews with school district and county education officials, district attorneys involved with anti-truancy work, nonprofit groups, parents, and state prison inmates.
It cites California Department of Education figures that found nearly 30 percent of all public school students were truant during the 2011-12 school year, including about 1 in 5 elementary pupils.