“Not enough has been done to keep our young people in the classroom learning. There are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem.”— State Sen. Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th)
CHICAGO – State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago 16th) issued the following statement on the final report of the Truancy in Chicago Public Schools Task Force. Collins, concerned about the impact of widespread, chronic absenteeism throughout the state but particularly in CPS, sponsored legislation last year creating the task force and directing it to report back to the General Assembly with findings and recommendations. Senate President John Cullerton appointed Collins to serve on the task force, which held public hearings throughout the spring.
This is a bold, specific, hard-hitting report because it needed to be. Not enough has been done – either in the Chicago Public Schools or in districts throughout the state – to identify and address the root causes of truancy and keep our young people in the classroom learning.
Chronic absenteeism is caused by diverse factors: homelessness, lack of transportation, failure to engage the student, special needs that are not adequately addressed, disciplinary issues and more. A one-size-fits-all approach is simply not good enough. That is why I fully agree with the task force’s conclusion that a permanent statewide commission should be created to monitor progress and continue to address truancy and its causes both in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois.
Attendance is central to education, and we have a moral (and often a legal) obligation to school-aged youth; we cannot give up on them simply because they are not present in the classroom. If there is one lesson we can take from today’s report, it’s that there are no shortcuts. CPS cannot make sustainable gains in attendance without dedicating staff and resources to the problem. I intend to stay engaged with CPS and with my colleagues on this task force so we see real changes made and real improvements in children’s lives and opportunities.