Tulsa superintendent, mayor seek to lower record school absenteeism
Tulsa officials are trying to spread the word that kids need to be in school. Listen above for an audio report.
ELIZABETH CALDWELL: In a classroom at McClure Elementary in Tulsa, a fifth grade student is translating English writing into Spanish for his tablemates.
STUDENT: ¿Como que paso como primero el segundo y tecero en orden?
CALDWELL: The students are trying to figure out the structure of a piece of writing. After a few minutes, teacher Ms. Diaz checks on the class’ progress.
ALLIE DIAZ: Gimme a thumbs up if you have number one done. I see Joseph’s done with number one, Anthony’s done with number one, Solange is done with number one.
CALDWELL: It’s lessons like these the school district says too many kids are missing. Here at McClure, only a little over half of the student body is considered to have good attendance. Superintendent Dr. Ebony Johnson says absenteeism is a national crisis and it’s especially bad in Tulsa.
EBONY JOHNSON: So nationwide about 30% of students are chronically absent. In Tulsa Public Schools, that figure sits at about 40%, and across Oklahoma it’s about 20%.
CALDWELL: Johnson spoke alongside Mayor G.T. Bynum, who pleaded for community support.
BYNUM: The reality is, and I’ve had a lot of folks ask me, ‘What can I do to help?’ When it comes down to it, it isn’t rocket science. Let’s get kids in school.
CALDWELL: If you’re a parent, you can share attendance concerns at tulsaschools.org/attend.