By Karen Stokes
Milwaukee Bucks forward Jabari Parker introduced an incentive to increase attendance for Milwaukee Public School students. Parker will provide 40-60 tickets to Milwaukee Bucks home games to students with improved attendance.
“I’m making this commitment because success comes to those who show up and work hard,” Parker said.
Parker and Milwaukee Public School Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver teamed up on a joint initiative to improve attendance in school at a summit held on Monday night, which was the latest of a series of family round tables.
“Attendance is important and as of today, our district is at 91.1 percent attendance,” said Driver.
“We are up 7 percent points from where we were this time last year. We know we have a long way to go to get to 95 percent but we are on our way.”
A missed school day is a missed opportunity for students to learn.
According to a report conducted by the National Cooperative Education Statistic Systems (NCES), teacher effectiveness is the strongest school related determinant of student success but chronic student absence reduces even the best teacher’s ability to provide learning opportunities.
Students who attend school on a regular basis have been shown to achieve at a higher level than students not attending school regularly.
This relationship between attendance and achievement may occur early in a child’s education and a recent study shows that young children who miss school in kindergarten were associated with a negative first grade outcome such as greater absenteeism in subsequent years and lower achievement in reading, math and general knowledge.
Poor attendance may affect a child for the rest of his or her life.
According to the MPS website, 91 percent is the overall attendance rate but the average attendance rate for high school students is lower, which can create barriers to graduation and post-graduation success.
Approximately 500 teachers, parents and students attended the summit at James Madison Academic Campus, 8135 W. Florist, which began with a spaghetti dinner and ended with breakout sessions with parents giving their feedback on issues resulting in lack of student attendance.
At the breakout sessions, parents named bullying, lack of a designer wardrobe, issues with teachers and family conflicts as some factors affecting student attendance.
Parker participated in each session with advice and input on the discussion.
“Go to school, even if you don’t feel like going, if you feel you don’t have the right clothes, even if you’re sick,” Parker said.
“If you get through it, it makes the story better. My mom always said ‘your sick day can be your best day.’”
Parker also advised parents if their children are possibly being bullied. “Check on your kids now and then; it helps a lot,” Parker said. “It helps eliminate a lot of bullying once the problem is brought up.”
“Using a celebrity to tell a very important story about the importance of education is a blessing to this community,” Driver said.