August 21st, 2012
Back to School Baltimore!
Sue Fothergill, executive director of educationRISING in Baltimore wrote this guest blog about Baltimore’s attendance campaign. It was originally posted on Audacious Ideas, the blog for Open Society Institute-Baltimore.
Imagine the first day of school; students energized by their long summer holiday, excited to see friends from the prior year, eager to meet their new teachers, curious about where their cubbies or lockers are, prepared to turn in important information like their health cards for the school nurse and their emergency cards for the office, and ready to get back into the swing of things at school. The first day sets the tone for the year and presents students with lots of critical information: introductions, goals and expectations.
Yet, far too many students in Baltimore are absent on the first day of school, missing out on this important transitional moment and all of the information that comes with it. Research shows when students miss the first day of school they are more likely to miss many more days and are at greater risk of becoming chronically absent (missing a month or more of school) by the end of the year—the rate of absence that will set them behind academically and puts them at risk of dropping out.
That’s where the Back to School Baltimore campaign comes in—a partnership between Baltimore City Public Schools, the Mayor’s Office, and the Family League of Baltimore that seeks to ensure that everyone in the city knows that the first day for most schools is August 27th…because being in school on the first day sets students up for success for the entire year.
But why does the entire city need to know about the first day of school? With almost 85,000 students and more than 200 schools across the city, chances are you know a City Schools student or you live near a city school. Join the Back to School Baltimore! campaign by calling the students in your life the night before to wish them luck, going out to your local school on the morning of the 27th and joining the principal in welcoming the students or offering to host a special 1st day pizza party for a class. Think about what made your first day at school special…and now imagine bringing that to a young Baltimore City student.
8/23 Update: Baltimore just announced a contest for preK and kindergarten classes to compete for who can record the best attendance. The prize is a trip to a local attraction, Port Discovery. Check out the fun announcement.
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