Sarah Lenhoff, associate professor of educational leadership and policy studies and director of the Detroit Partnership for Education Equity and Research, quoted in The Atlantic, “Where are all the missing students?”

But as Sarah Lenhoff, an education policy professor at Wayne State University in Michigan, explained to me, “The strongest correlate with chronic absence is child poverty and family poverty. The fewer resources a family has, the more likely they are to be absent.” There are layers to that, Lenhoff said, beyond the fact that “they just don’t have as much money.” Poverty often mean that students don’t have access to reliable transportation—which is crucial when many districts face severe bus-driver shortages, if students have access to school buses at all. Many impoverished families also don’t have a well-resourced support network to assist them if they are evicted from their homes, of if they have an unexpected work conflict. On top of that, “children who are poor tend to have worse health outcomes, and their families have less access to health care, so they’re more likely to miss school because of that,” she said. Often, Lenhoff told me, those attendant factors related to poverty are misidentified as the parents not wanting to send their children to school.


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