Bring Back Truant Officers - Seriously?


It's a frequent complaint that too many kids don't come to school regularly for whatever reason, creating difficulties and disruptions for teachers and increased catching-up for kids.  But is bringing back truant officers really the answer, or is there something else?  Truant officers seem so, I don't know, 20th century -- and cost ineffective, too, I'm guessing.  They sound tough -- call anyone an "officer" and you get that.  But I've never seen anyone cite anything other than anecdotal evidence that they work or were worth the cost, and I'm not sure they're used anywhere else on a citywide scale.  Let me know where I'm missing the point, or lacking information -- are there particular schools with much higher attendance rates that others can imitate? -- and even better tell me what else you could (or do) do to get more kids to come to school more often. Let them take classes online?  Pay them (their parents)?Health services on campus?  Hire parents to work in the school?  Ideas are welcome, specific experiences are valued, and links to specific information are what we all live for.

Filed under: Parents and Parenting


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  • Part Time

    I knew a few truant officers back when we had them. All were retired
    beat officers making a few extra dollars. But all of them were fearless in
    pursuit of truant students. Most of them got results. They were very
    cost effective and brought years of street experience to the job.

  • If truant officers return it would probably be a matter of the school providing names and contact info, not cruising the streets looking for people out of school. After all the person could be in a home school, private school, or other arrangement.

  • Check your facts.

    The truant officers were gone before Vallas came to CPS.

  • great comments -- can anyone name a school that has some form of truant officer, or tell us where there's a list of who's doing this?

  • Okay, maybe you're just stupid...

    But for those who care about facts, let me provide this detail from the Chicago Tribune on September 2, 1992:

    "Incensed by the school board's decision to cut 500 union jobs, the Chicago Teachers Union filed a series of unfair labor practice charges Tuesday.

    The complaints, filed against the Board of Education and the School Finance Authority, charge that elimination of 500 staff support positions, including every truant officer in the system, was not part of the union's compromise to help balance the school board's budget so that schools will open on time."

    So, three years before Vallas came to CPS, "every truant officer in the system" was cut to help pay for the teachers' 7% annual raise.

  • Why?

    I think part of the discussion is based on the fact, as prior posters
    have explained, that truant officers have been gone for over 20 years.
    Many new and even veteran teachers never knew what they did or
    Why they were important. No truant officer ever watched the Cubs opener
    on WGN surfing for the occasional Ferris Buhler. They never called home
    if a kid was sick for a couple of days. Their job was much more complicated.
    It was the job of a Truant Officer to get answers. All of us have students
    Who do not come to school and cannot be reached by ordinary methods.
    As a sworn officer they went out and investigated the reason Jonny has been
    Absent for three weeks. Then the school would be told, then us teachers .
    It is that aspect of the it we miss the closure a truant officers report
    would give us. Sometime we also learned of tragic reasons for a kids absence
    that was also a closure.

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