Local parent Andy Vitt submitted to us a must-read call to action for all of us to join the fight to ensure kids are in the classroom. Thank you, Andy! 

Op-Ed: A Parent's Call to Action Against Rising Truancy - Andy Vitt

In Lieu of the student report card and recent administrative communication regarding attendance concerns, it is important to discuss parental involvement in our school system. While it is easy to lay blame for the shortcomings of a community system on others, scapegoating targets with no remedy in mind, we, as parents, must step up to the mirror to judge our own reflection. Rather than blind ourselves to the denial of data, we must accept our own responsibility in the downward trajectory of the D67, D115, and D65 school districts. Our districts did not get here by bad luck, nor did they arrive solely on the shoulders of the administration and staff. Instead, our community built a perception of academic excellence, creating a general sense of apathetic involvement in the achievement performance of our students. Attendance, behavioral issues, and sagging proficiency marks are all symptoms of our collective effort, from parents to administration to the school board. Rather than treat the symptoms, we should expend the energy to address the root causes. 

Lake Forest and Lake Bluff School Districts all saw significant increases in chronic absenteeism, the % of students who miss 10% of school days per year with or without a valid excuse

Data per Illinois Dept of Ed School Report Card.

Lake Forest High School District 115 


Lake Bluff Elementary District 65

Lake Forest Elementary District 67



As stated in administrative communications, attendance in school is vitally important to the academic and social development of our students. Unfortunately, many parents may hold school attendance in less regard after two years of messaging implying that staying home was acceptable. Further, the policies enacted by the past administration and approved by all school board members embedded a notion that missing school while healthy would not have detrimental effects on our students. We were told countless times that zoom classes and asymptomatic quarantines would have no long-lasting consequences; thus, a new norm of tardiness and truancy developed. At no point have the people elected to oversee our students’ educational development accepted responsibility, nor have they communicated that those policies were in error. Why would we expect the parents of this community to prioritize attendance when the “leaders” did not? Thus, parents need to realign our priorities to rebuild a stronger foundation by acknowledging the failure of our past policies and renewing our commitment to our students.

While raising awareness of attendance is a strong first step, absenteeism is a symptom of apathy in our community. Our community holds a misguided perception of the strength of our school district; many are in denial of our lackluster proficiency, and others try to explain our shortfalls away with veiled excuses. We broadcast that we strive for excellence, yet our actions as parents prove otherwise. If we are unwilling to get our students to school consistently (and on time), how can we expect our students to thrive? We expect greatness without the required effort as a community. We expect excellence without adhering to the most simple expectation, attendance. If we reshape our expectations, attendance will be an afterthought.

This community is attached to positive messaging, wrapping narratives of excellence in a blanket of idyllic perception. The commitment to excellence is more than developing a Portrait of a Learner and crafting bland taglines. At some point, the blunt reality of the IL report card should raise red flags. Rather than celebrate commendable and exemplary rankings relative to state thresholds, we should commit ourselves to a higher achievement bar. The weight of accountability does not fall on one side of the scale.

We, as parents, should expect more pointed language directed toward us when we are not pulling our weight. Parents should not expect the administrators to coddle us with indirect messaging. Our expectation that every negative aspect is masked with the perfume of positivity is misguided. Instead, we should accept that bad news can be delivered starkly. By propping up feelings and egos, the administration does not allow us to address shortcomings, whether academic or behavioral, properly. Parents should set expectations for an honest assessment of their children’s development. Detouring around the problems at hand only leads us on a long journey for correcting behavior or supporting academic growth.

It is time for parents to realign their perceptions, expectations, and commitment to academic achievement. Parents can choose to have a strong impact on this district or sit idly as it continues to plateau around state averages. We hope our parental community engages with their students, administrators, and teachers to cultivate a stronger atmosphere for academic and social growth in our school districts. We believe that this community has the energy to attain higher levels of achievement. We hope to see that commitment reinvigorated as the new administration pushes the community to adhere to loftier expectations. In the meantime, parents need to take the first step by sending their children to school more consistently.