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488: Skip Class

A Thousand Things to Talk About
488: Skip Class
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Did you / do you skip class?


Full episode script

In 2016, the US Department of Education released numbers that the AP analyzed and found that the national average was 13 percent of students absent 15 days or more in a single year in the 2013-2014 school year. In reporting on these numbers, PBS quotes Bob Balfanz, research professor at Johns Hopkins University and director of the Everyone Graduates Center. In that interview, he claims that students are regularly missing school for lots of reasons. Many are poor and could be staying home to care for a sibling or helping with elder care. Others are avoiding school because they’re being bullied or they worry it’s not safe. And then, there are some students who simply skip school.

A study in 2012, however, based on interviews with 500 teenagers in 25 cities, cited a number of reasons that were very different than these usual assumptions.

“Nearly 60 percent of the respondents are growing up in two-parent households. Two-thirds of the respondents described their household’s income to be average or above average. About a third of the respondents have parents who graduated from college, and an equal fraction had a parent who had dropped out of high school. And Only 6 percent of the respondents said they were skipping school either to work or to help care for a member of their family.”

 

Further quoting from The Atlantic’s story on this report:

When asked why they skip school, most common among students’ “very big reasons” were that they find school boring (32 percent), that school starts too early (26 percent), and that it is more fun to spend time with friends (23 percent).

Of course, self-reported data may vary pretty significantly from the socio-economic factors that play in to why a student may skip school.

Then again, it may not be just students. As Take Part reported in 2016, quote:

The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights has reported that 27 percent of the nation’s elementary and secondary school teachers missed, at minimum, more than 10 days of regular classes. Ultimately, “there is not really a single reason that explains teacher absences,” Leo Casey, executive director of the Albert Shanker Institute wrote. “But the fact that financial incentives for teachers to avoid absences, such as paying them for unused sick days, have limited impact, points to the fact that teachers are not taking days off for casual reasons.”

This script may vary from the actual episode transcript.