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Annette King

Advocate launches review of school attendance woes

Annette King, the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate, is conducting an independent review of the barriers to school attendance in the territory.

By Whitehorse Star on January 24, 2020

Annette King, the Yukon Child and Youth Advocate, is conducting an independent review of the barriers to school attendance in the territory.

“Many Yukon children are missing school far more than they should,” King said today.

“They have a right to attend school and receive educational programs that help them reach their full potential.

“In our work providing individual advocacy, we have learned of many children of all ages who are not in school.

“The problem is systemic in nature; we have identified over 100 children and youth who have had issues with missing school. Some do not have a school program to attend at all.”

The advocate has the authority to provide advice to Yukon government departments and to follow up on actions taken by those departments.

Her office has been addressing attendance issues for individual students for years.

It has also done a focused analysis of the problem over the past year.

“This is a complex issue without a simple resolution,” said King.

“Last May, we raised the issue with the Department of Education, but no satisfactory solutions have been found.

“In my view, an independent review with public engagement will help us better understand the prevalence of the problem and the barriers to consistent school attendance.

“My office can then provide advice to the Department of Education on ways to support students,” King added.

She has begun discussions with the department on the best way to proceed with the independent review under the Child and Youth Advocate Act.

The Education Act supports children’s rights to attend school and their rights to have the specialized supports they need to learn in a way that works for them.

Children who require special education programs are entitled to receive individualized education plans that should be implemented within their school and classroom setting.

Under the legislation, Yukon children and youth who are five to 21 years old are entitled to an education. Children who are five to 16 years of age are required to attend school.

“A review is not about finding fault or placing blame on anyone,” King pointed out.

“Children are missing school for a variety of reasons. They are suspended for behaviours, they are disengaged due to lack of safety or ineffective educational supports, or they may have personal challenges that prevent school from being a priority.

“The key is to listen to children and to fully identify the reasons for the problem and then find solutions,” King said.

The review will take a co-ordinated approach.

It will include families, communities, teachers, school councils and boards, First Nation governments and the Yukon government, with the children at the centre of the work.

“The experience of children and youth at school has direct impacts on their futures,” King said.

“We need to come together for Yukon children at this critical time in their lives.”

King’s office provides individual advocacy for children and youth who are eligible to access territorial government services and programs.

Her office is an independent office of the Yukon legislature.

The office’s operations are guided by the Child and Youth Advocate Act.

Children, youth or others concerned about a child or youth receiving services from the Yukon government can contact the Child and Youth Advocate Office for assistance and advice at (867) 456-5575.

Comments (11)

Up 25 Down 3

Mick on Jan 29, 2020 at 4:25 pm

Concentrate on the kids who actually show up to learn every day.
It may sound harsh but pouring resources into kids (or adults) that are hell bent on failure and becoming 'wards of the state' is a big waste of everyone's time, energy and money.

Up 24 Down 5

Josey Wales on Jan 27, 2020 at 10:23 pm

Hmmm....makes me think of taking a horse to the creek for a drink?
I used to think it important to attend school, back when they actually taught.
These days, those kids that choose not to go?
Will not get indoctrinated into being a wee commie ...
Will not be subjected to the gender of the day lessons...
Will most likely learn more in the world if “paying attention “ than in any of those publicly funded Orwellian sweat shops of ignorance some folks call schools.

And if I am wrong and those kids grow to have absolutely no clue of the real world? There are always seats in our civic hall of governance they can warm, maybe be a multi term mayor even.
We do after all award folks for incompetence, ineptness, ignorance actual or willful.
Yes...I just freely expressed myself again.

Up 57 Down 1

Clark on Jan 27, 2020 at 12:16 pm

The department is out of control with their coddling in all the wrong areas.
The 'no student left behind idea' damaged more kids than anything. Pushing failing kids along with their peers until the kid is so lost they just give up.

In the early 2000 the DOE was caught fudging FN graduating numbers to make themselves look more competent.
Then they moved away from grades with vague terms like 'meeting expectations' appearing on report cards.
Then they dropped parent/teacher conferences in favour of a 3 way, student led meeting that isn't scheduled but just a walk-in and impossible to meet all the teachers.
Then they dropped testing and exams.
Then they made the report card grades.....errr....categories even more vague.

All the while there is zero engagement by anyone around attendance. I saw kids walk the grad stage who never actually completed their mandatory courses.
The whole system is broken and the kids are suffering.

Up 33 Down 5

Scott on Jan 27, 2020 at 10:32 am

Total enrollment in 2019 is 5566 according to Education Department reports. 100 identified not attending = 1.8% of students. A study for 1.8%. Really???

Up 40 Down 8

My Opinion on Jan 26, 2020 at 8:58 pm

Likely the parents of these kids are totally useless. Can’t even get their own A$$ out of bed in the morning.

Lowest common denominators getting together and having kids. What could go wrong?????

Up 51 Down 1

Groucho d'North on Jan 26, 2020 at 5:35 pm

For far too long the state has stepped in when parents have not lived up to their responsibilities to raise and nurture their children to an appropriate standard. This is not a new development, history has numerous examples and sadly there is a disproportionate representation by aboriginal people.
A safe and healthy home environment free from drug and alcohol abuse, where kids can get a good nights sleep after completing their homework and a good breakfast in their bellies and a lunch when they arrive at school ready to learn.
This is not rocket science, stop being distracted by invented racial issues and focus on the basics kids need to be healthy and ready to learn.
Perhaps some parents should attend classes for being better at raising their kids, being good role models and helping their kids to break out of a disfunctional family cycle by taking some responsibility rather than dumping on government to fix all their problems.

Up 59 Down 2

Yikes on Jan 25, 2020 at 8:23 pm

People have lost sight of the fact that though education is a right (in this country - not in others), it is also a privilege. I hope this is not going to become yet another forum for teachers to get slammed. There have been many initiatives to get kids to school - awards, taxis, Jordan's Principle, etc. The bottom line is we need to stop spending valuable time thinking of ways to convince parents to get their kids to school. Parents need to take responsibility for this. Poor attendance is generally not about problems in education, or 'it's too boring', or whatever excuse people will come up with - and rest assure people will deflect the blame off themselves - it's about getting your kids out the door to school and supporting them as students.
There are thousands and thousands of people in this world who would give anything to be able to send their kids to school but they can't. They would love to have what we have for our kids. There are kids who boat to school, or walk for miles to get to school. We have buses, we have vehicles, we have beautiful buildings, and teachers who are there to teach, and we have alarm clocks to wake ourselves up to get to work and school. Other than illness and the odd other emergency, there shouldn't be anything stopping anyone from getting their kids to school. The parents who aren't getting their kids to school need to stop finding excuses and be grateful that we live in a place where so much is provided for our kids.

Up 47 Down 4

Salt on Jan 25, 2020 at 8:20 pm

@O.K. Knaught
Thanks for the laugh! It really is stacking absurdity on top of absurdity these days. Funny how the answer always involves some bureaucrat and a bag full of tax dollars.

Up 70 Down 8

O. K. Knaught on Jan 25, 2020 at 2:42 am

Wow! Another study on another systemic issue to avoid making people feel bad for their personal choices. How about someone look in the mirror! Barriers to consistent school attendance... Hmmm... Think, think, think... Oh, yah... Ummm...

Bad parenting... Lack of accountability... Irrelevant curriculums... A de-emphasis on knowledge... A lack of structure...

It really is a fun time to be alive. Where will the Ship of Fools sail next? Perhaps the report should be done in picture book format with few words, small words. There should be unicorns too!

Up 51 Down 4

Responsibility on Jan 25, 2020 at 12:42 am

Parents and guardians need to have a HUGE role in this! Children are sent to school to be babysat, not for education. Many of these guardians can't even control their own children--then they get mad at schools for suspending them. Guess what? My child is supported and entitled to his/her education too. And....if parents are sending their children to school, because they have them babysitting younger siblings (a frequent excuse) or they woke them up and then the child didn't get up and the parent had to go to work, that is not the fault of the child or the school. Solutions? Better get people helping those kids out, like truancy officers in the states who make the children go to school. Parents can be fined $150 per day, according to the Yukon Education Act, when they don't send their children to school. It's never enforced! Start there. And start ensuring programming is in place for children with major behaviour/drug problems. Those youth need to be in a setting where they can work out their issues, not in a typical classroom as it doesn't work. No matter what education bean counters say, cramming a bunch of youth in a class to save money and they wondering why you have attendance problems when you are not addressing their behaviour/individual needs/substance problems doesn't work. More programs in settings away from 'typical ' school settings (like YAC and ILC) are needed. Both programs full and turning away youth due to not enough resources for these youth.

Up 41 Down 9

JohN on Jan 24, 2020 at 7:15 pm

Appears this position is a duplicate of many existing positions and Mrs King must find work to do. ? “Barriers to school attendance” review ?

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