Attendance in virtual classes, or remote learning through software such as Zoom, has fallen off and, in many cases, is difficult to track accurately, The New York Times reports.
“I’ll have kids gone for a week, pop in for one class the next, then miss the second class that week,” the paper quoted Linnet Early, a social studies teacher outside St Louis, who has 100 mostly low-income students spread across eight classes, as saying. “It’s hard to know what their struggles are, how to wrap your arms around it.”
A survey last April, shortly after remote learning was ordered in most of the country, found that 55 percent of teachers said attendance was off by more than half in their remote classes.
Data from the new school year shows that by the end of the first week of school in mostly-virtual Detroit, 78 percent of students had shown up to class, compared with 90 percent by that point in the 2019-20 school year.
Parents across the country are clamoring for in-person instruction, and this is one of the reasons. Kids are at home, in their bedrooms or in the backyard, and teachers and other authority figures don’t know where they are.
Some kids have probably been pulled by parents out of the public schools and into private or parochial schools, while others may have opted for charter schools, if available, that don’t have to follow the remote learning mandates handed down by elected school boards. These schools answer to the families they serve, while public schools answer to school boards, which are in many cases independent of other governmental units but may also be elected by voters.
As public schools fail to provide a high-quality education for students, because of the need to switch to remote learning, hybrid models, or some haphazard approach in between, parents notice and naturally look for better options for their kids.
I am not concerned about kids whose parents enroll them in private schools or charters, because at least those kids are going to school. This news highlights another group of students, though, who may just drop off the table. They may be getting no school.
Another problem is that as public school enrollment drops, funding for public schools from states, which is in most cases tied to the number of students attending each school, will drop and create budget shortfalls in our school districts.