FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 10, 2012
MAYOR BLOOMBERG LAUNCHES NATION’S LARGEST PUBLIC AD CAMPAIGN TO FIGHT CHRONIC ABSENTEEISM AND ANNOUNCES NEW RESOURCES TO HELP PARENTS IMPROVE STUDENT ATTENDANCE
Latest Data Indicate Strong Response to Anti-Truancy Measures in Pilot Schools: Students with Mentors Gained 11,820 More Days of School This Year
City Resources – Including New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Library Systems – to Help Parents Keep Students on Track
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today launched a new public ad campaign to fight chronic absenteeism and truancy, kicking off the largest effort in the nation to inform parents that students who routinely miss school are more likely to drop out. The campaign – created with the support of AT&T and the Ad Council – target parents and guardians to reinforce the startling consequences of repeated absences from school: students who miss 20 days or more in a single year have a dramatically reduced chance of graduation. The Mayor also unveiled new resources to connect parents with the support needed to address their child’s needs. The strategies are the latest initiatives of the Mayor’s Interagency Task Force on Truancy, Chronic Absenteeism & School Engagement, and new data released today by Mayor Bloomberg show their positive impact as chronically absent students gained 11,820 more days of school in the last year alone. The Mayor made the announcement at P.S. 91 Richard Arkwright School in Queens, a participant in the “Every Student, Every Day” anti-truancy program, and was joined by Chief Advisor for Policy and Strategic Planning John Feinblatt, New York City Schools Chancellor Dennis M. Walcott, Task Force Chair Leslie A. Cornfeld, John Hopkins University Research Scientist and Task Force advisor Dr. Robert Balfanz, Principal Victoria Catalano, and program participants.
“After working with schools and in communities, our Truancy Task Force has learned that many parents and guardians either don’t recognize the serious consequences of chronic absenteeism, or don’t know what to do about it,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “That’s why we are launching an ambitious, City-wide campaign to inform parents and connect them with the help they and their children need. Our latest data confirm that we’re taking steps in the right direction to curb absenteeism, and these new initiatives will keep us on track.”
“We are launching this public awareness campaign because the cost of chronic absenteeism is too great to remain silent,” said Chief Policy Advisor Feinblatt, who oversees the Task Force. “National research tells us that three out of four 6th graders, who are chronically absent, will not graduate. And when kids are on the streets, public safety is a concern. Of juveniles arrested in New York City, 79 percent had been chronically absent prior to their arrest. This campaign will help amplify the message that getting our kids to school every day is critical to their success in school, and in life.”
“There has been remarkable success in our schools over the past eight years in improving not only attendance rates, but also the educational outcomes for our students,” said Chancellor Walcott. “Despite that, far too many students are missing school. In New York City, one out of every five students missed a month or more of school last year – that’s over 200,000. And those rates are highest in our high need communities where school offers students the best chance for a brighter future.”
The multimillion dollar campaign will run citywide starting this spring, when chronic absenteeism rates are known to spike, and will appear again this fall – adorning the front of 5 million MetroCards – when the school year begins and attendance is critical. The ads were created pro bono by advertising agency Publicis New York, with the support of AT&T and the Ad Council, and ask: “It’s 9:00 AM do you know where your kids are?” The campaign engages parents and guardians in the critical work of getting every child to school every day.
The ads encourage New Yorkers to call 311 or text “SCHOOL” to 30364 for more information and users will be prompted to log onto www.SchoolEveryDayNYC.org, a new web resource that includes a Truancy & Absenteeism Help Center. The one-stop shop for information helps parents identify the underlying reasons for chronic absences, including illnesses like asthma, tutoring needs or substance abuse – and provides a targeted list of local resources to assist students and families. The Help Center links to the Department of Education ARIS Parent Link, an online portal where parents can review attendance and performance records and better assess their child’s needs.
New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Library Systems Join Campaign
Mayor Bloomberg also announced that the New York, Brooklyn and Queens Public Libraries have joined the campaign to reduce chronic absenteeism and improve educational outcomes for the students in their communities.
The partnership will kick off on Saturday, May 19, with School Every Day – which will feature Department of Education employees who will aid parents in logging onto www.SchoolEveryDayNYC.org, to learn how many days of school their child has missed and determine what help may be needed. The School Every Day events will take place at the following libraries from 12:00PM to 4:00PM:
Going forward, the libraries will continue their partnership by hosting School Every Day events at a library in each borough, four times a year. During these quarterly events, Department of Education specialists will set up in libraries across the city to provide personal assistance to parents and families – from accessing web resources, to identifying student needs, to explaining the long-term negative impacts of absenteeism. Daily assistance will also be available, as library staff distribute information, display ads and aid parents and guardians in accessing the web-based Help Center and ARIS Parent Link. Staff will also be trained to communicate the importance of school every day at library parent programming and events.
New Data Show Continued Gains in Attendance through “Every Student, Every Day” Program
New data confirms the positive impact Task Force strategies have had through programs like “Every Student, Every Day.” The program is active in 50 pilot schools across the City and engages with 31,000 students, including 4,000 students who are assigned mentors. Among the strategies the schools use to reduce absenteeism is the Success Mentor Program, the largest, most comprehensive in-school mentoring model in the country. By working directly with students, their parents and school community, Success Mentors identify problems and directly intervene to improve student attendance. In the last year alone, students with mentors in the pilot schools gain 11,820 more days of school than their counterparts without mentors at comparison schools.
The gains witnessed in the pilot schools are significant at each level of schooling through the end of March: at pilot elementary schools, the percent of students who were chronically absent fell 27 percent; at middle schools, it dropped by 21 percent; and in high schools, the decline was by 7 percent.
“I am really, really proud this year at school, and I like it more now that I’m there all the time, “said Quinn Corcino, Jr. a 5th grader who has turned his attendance around at P.S. 91. “I used to be out a lot, I missed 29 days last year – but only 3 so far this year - and no more. I got lots of awards this year because of that, which feels so great. My success mentor is the reason I will never miss school. She greets me every day, comes to my room and says good morning to me. And when I get perfect attendance in a month, she writes me a little note and gives me a pencil. She helped me and my family learn that I had to come every day. And she helped us solve a problem at home so I could get to school every day. Having good attendance and getting a good education will really help me in life. It really will. I know it.”
“The school really helped us understand that my son had to be in school every day, no matter what,” said Quinn Corcino, Sr., the father of P.S. 91 student Quinn Corcino, Jr. “I have a chronically ill child, and it’s really hard – my son just sort of got lost. So he just didn’t get to school. The school gave him a mentor who made him want to come every day, and made me do my best to get him there. She helped us figure out how to solve the problem keeping him from school. He loves school now, his attendance is great and his grades are better too. I really thank the school for what they did.”
“I have been a teacher at P.S. 91 for 18 years, but I have helped my students this year as a success mentor in ways I could never have fathomed,” said Success Mentor and teacher Jonathan Silverman. “The program allowed me to understand why the students weren’t coming to school, and let me reverse those patterns in lots of cases. I was able to reach out to parents, get their trust, and let them know why missing school was hurting their kids. I saw kids improve their attendance, and then their grades. Attendance and school performance go hand-in-hand. Letting parents know that helps.”
“Our focus groups made clear that far too many parents and students are unaware of the potentially devastating impact of missing 20 or more days in a year,” said Leslie Cornfeld, the Task Force Chair. “This campaign calls upon the City’s interagency and community partners to help spread the word about the impact of chronic absenteeism – including at our schools, libraries, shelters, newsstands, subways, buses and more – so that all school age New Yorkers are at their desks by 9:00 AM.”
“Chronic absenteeism is too often an unseen force that left unaddressed undermines our efforts to improve educational outcomes and frequently throws the students themselves completely off-track to adult success,” said Dr. Balfanz, John Hopkins University Research Scientist and Task Force advisor. “The key to combating chronic absenteeism is to measure, monitor and act. New York City is emerging as the national leader in all these areas. The initiatives being announced today promise to be an innovative set of actions, which will increase the agency with which parents and students themselves can act to make sure students are in school, everyday.”
“We believe this initiative can make a difference for New York City School students, and we’re proud to participate with the Mayor, the Chancellor, the Ad Council and other partners to make it happen,” said Charlene Lake, AT&T’s chief sustainability officer. “Through our AT&T Aspire campaign and programs like this, AT&T seeks a nation where every student graduates high school ready for a successful college career, or ready to feed the talent pipeline to American business and become productive members of society.”
“Our focus groups research showed a significant amount of New York City parents are not associating the affect of their children absences can have on their educational future,” said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. “We are thrilled to partner with Mayor Bloomberg, Chancellor Walcott and AT&T to help increase graduation rates by providing NYC parents with the local services to assist them in getting their children to school every day.”
“The agency didn’t feel we could overcome this problem by simply advertising. We needed to give parents a reminder that could change behavior,” said Rob Feakins, President and Chief Creative Officer of Publicis New York. “‘It’s 10:00 PM, do you know...’ has been in the City's vernacular for decades, we decided to put a twist on that phrase to make sure parents are equally concerned that ‘It's 9:00 AM do you know where your kids are?’”
“The MTA is glad to help remind New Yorkers how important it is to ensure their children stay in school,” said MTA Chairman and CEO Joseph J. Lhota. “We are working with the Mayor’s Interagency Task Force to have this anti-truancy message posted thousands of times in subway stations and on buses across the city. And by distributing this message on the back of 5 million MetroCards when school begins in the fall, we will literally put it into the hands of parents all across the city.”
“Since becoming president of The New York Public Library, I have heard many stories of kids and teens who have gotten their lives back on track at their local libraries, relying on the various free resources and strong community support systems that we make available to succeed,” said NYPL President Anthony W. Marx. “This partnership with the Mayor’s Office will allow us to amplify our efforts to improve the lives of young people by connecting them with the services they need to attend school every day.”
“Brooklyn Public Library is proud to support the City's anti-truancy campaign and its efforts to ensure that every child receives an excellent education,” said Linda E. Johnson, President & CEO of Brooklyn Public Library. “Our libraries are critical resources for students all across the borough. Young people can visit BPL to obtain free homework help, check out new books and participate in volunteer and internship opportunities to learn new skills and strengthen their resumes for college applications.”
“Lifelong learning is one of Queens Library’s most important missions,” said Thomas W. Galante, President & CEO, Queens Library. “We offer many programs to help children and young adults succeed academically. We are pleased to give our full support so the School Everyday initiative that will encourage parents and students to understand the negative fallout from excessive absenteeism.”
“Chronic absenteeism is a pervasive issue for youth in our city, and this public service campaign will go a long way in raising awareness about the problem,” said Richard Buery, President and CEO of the Children's Aid Society and Task Force Technical Advisor. “The Mayor’s campaign has already demonstrated success in reducing absenteeism and we must build upon his efforts to ensure that our most vulnerable families have the comprehensive supports they need to get children to school and help them be successful while they’re there. Education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty, and children who miss class regularly cannot receive a quality education.”
“In our push to reform schools, we too often overlook attendance as a critical factor in whether students succeed academically and graduate from high school,” said Hedy Chang, director of Attendance Works. “We applaud Mayor Bloomberg’s efforts to get the word out that students who miss nearly a month of school over the course of the year—whether in excused or unexcused absences—are headed off track academically. Parents need to know these absences undermine their children’s success. And they need to know that they can turn to schools and other community partners for help in getting their children to school every day.”
“The Department for the Aging believes in the value and of bringing together older adults and youth through intergenerational programming,” said Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Commissioner of the Department for the Aging. “Through DFTA’s Foster Grandparent and Title V programs, seniors work with school principals as volunteers to mentor students who are chronically absent. The seniors dedicate themselves to being supportive and caring toward these students, meeting with them one-on-one or in small groups. They also check-in with families if the child is absent.”
“In order for people to escape poverty, we need to both provide opportunity and send a strong message about the importance of personal responsibility. This effort does exactly that,” said HRA Commissioner Robert Doar. “By addressing truancy and encouraging young people to stay in school, we are helping young people to focus on their education and their futures.”
“We all know when it comes to school, we all know the real key to success is showing up,” said Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond. “Homeless Services is changing the culture of attendance in shelter, taking a hands-on approach with families and actively engaging parents to get their children to school. We are seeing the results and a new motivation in helping their children with their educations. Working together as a City, we can only continue to make progress and see our children succeed.”
“Regular school attendance is a critical factor in ensuring our young people graduate and go on to successful futures,” said DYCD Commissioner Jeanne B. Mullgrav. DYCD supports this goal through our afterschool and summer programming, which complements the school day and fosters increased engagement between young people and their schools and communities. We are delighted to be a partner in this campaign and disseminate these resources to parents and community members through our diverse network of nonprofit providers.”
“The web-based parent resources and Student Success Centers will assist our efforts to engage families in services for children that are chronically absent,” said Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner Ronald E. Richter. “We remain a vital partner in the Truancy Task Force and support this new campaign to help lower truancy rates and improve educational outcomes for children in New York City.”
Stu Loeser /Lauren Passalacqua (212) 788-2958
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