Sunday, February 7, 2021

Where Have All the Children Gone?


WEST COAST        

Opinion by:  
E. Eugene Webb PhD 

The Florida legislature's office of Economic and Demographic research released the latest student enrollment projection, and it appears that somewhere around 90,000 previously registered students are missing.

For some detail see the Tampa Bay Times  By News Service of Florida, 90,000 Florida kids didn’t show up for school this year. Where are they?

School districts are typically funded on the “butts in seats” formula whereby they report student attendance figures to the state on a monthly basis.

According to the News Service of Florida article, State Education Commissioner Richard Cochran issued an executive order requiring schools to provide in person instruction when the school year began last fall, but also allowed families to choose whether to send their children back to campus in person or sign up for remote learning. Under Cochran’s order, school districts are not punished financially for students who don't show up in person.

So, what it boils down to is school districts are collecting the per student rate from the state on about 90,000 students who are not actually showing up in the classroom or registered as attending online.

All of this is raising some questions among Florida's legislators.

While the State Education Commission is trying to figure out where all these students are; home schooling, online and unregistered, or just not attending school.

The question that has not been asked yet, did they ever really exist? This would not be the first time there have been questions about reported attendance from school districts.

Like everything else that's going on these days school districts and their administrations are blaming most of this on the COVID-19 virus.

Since the school districts throughout Florida are receiving funding for somewhere near 90,000 students who are not actually in class, it's time for some serious accounting to go on.

One of the easiest ways for the legislature to begin to get a handle on this is to require regular reporting of actual student attendance and pay for that amount and no more. That should be significant enough motivation to get the school districts moving on finding the missing students. Unless of course they never existed in the first place.

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