Bloomy fights truancy, launches $9M ad campaign


| brennison@queenscourier.com |

Mayor Michael Bloomberg
THE COURIER/photo by Billy Rennison

Missing just two days of school per month may not seem serious, but it presents a major obstacle to a high school diploma.

Seventy five percent of chronically absent sixth graders — defined as missing 20 or more days of school, or two per month — fail to graduate high school, said Mayor Michael Bloomberg at a press conference at P.S. 91 in Glendale, where he launched a new ad campaign to fight truancy.

“Those numbers aren’t surprising,” the mayor said, who added nearly one in five students are chronically absent. “If you aren’t in school, you can’t learn.”

The city launched a pilot program — “Every Student, Every Day” — in September 2010 to help reduce chronic absenteeism by assigning students mentors. P.S. 91 has seen chronic absenteeism drop by 26 percent in its first year in the program, and it has fallen by 27 percent in the 50 pilot schools.

Fifty additional schools will be added to the program this fall.

Quinn Corcino,Jr., a fifth grader at the Glendale school, spoke directly to the difference he has experienced at school a year after missing 29 days.

“I am really, really proud this year at school, and I like it more now that I’m there all the time,” said Corcino, who has missed just three days of school so far. “Having good attendance and getting a good education will really help me in life.”

Medical issues in the family led to the forced absences, said Corcino’s father, Quinn Sr., but the program has provided the family with help to minimize the days absent.
“It’s made him a higher achiever,” Corcino Sr. said. “This year he’s in honors classes, top of his class.”

The $9 million campaign, which has been placed in subway stations, on bus shelters and newsstands, updates the well-known ad questioning parents where their children are at night, instead asking, “It’s 9 a.m., do you know where your kids are?”

Bloomberg said that the campaign was rolled out now due to the typical spike in absences in May and June.
A new web resource for parents was also introduced, schooleverydayNYC.org. Parents can log on for resources to help reduce absenteeism and to review attendance records for their children.

Beginning May 19, DOE employees will be at the Flushing branch of the Queens Library between noon and 4 p.m. to aid parents on using the site.