Sarah Lenhoff, associate professor and researcher for the College of Education in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies, quoted in Chalkbeat, “Detroit launches attendance initiatives as rising absenteeism threatens pandemic recovery”

Chalkbeat Detroit, 8/10 
Detroit launches attendance initiatives as rising absenteeism threatens pandemic recovery 
By Grace Tucker 
Detroit school district officials are planning more aggressive steps to reverse a rise in chronic absenteeism, a huge obstacle to their efforts to help students recover academically from the impact of the pandemic. In the latest school year, 77% of Detroit Public Schools Community District student were chronically absent, meaning they missed at least 10% of school days. Researchers say the figures are further evidence that the district needs to do more to address the broad range of causes for Detroit’s long struggles with absenteeism, including socioeconomic and transportation factors. “I think there’s this impression that Detroit parents don’t care about school, and that could not be further from the truth,” said Sarah Lenhoff, an associate professor at Wayne State University’s College of Education. “Families want their kids to be in school.” Lenhoff co-authored a study analyzing the rise in absenteeism rates during the 2020-21 school year, and said technology was a main contributor, noting that 40% of parents reported that computer problems, like Wi-Fi issues and poor-quality laptops hindered student access to online classrooms. When Detroit’s kids don’t make it to school, Lenhoff said. “it really speaks to the need for the city to invest more in employment, invest in stabilized housing, and make sure that families have the food and health care that they need, so that they can give their children what they want to give them…get them into school.”  

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