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The truancy test

Re "Truancy Is just a symptom," Opinion, Oct. 13

Ellie Herman's op-ed article on truancy brought back many classroom memories from my days as a public school teacher and counselor. She wrote movingly of her students' real-life challenges making it to school, and she correctly summartzed why any one-pronged solution to this complex problem is delusional and why criminalizing truancy is ineffective at best.

We need to identify and then fix the root problems that lead to truancy and the ill effects that ripple throughout society and affect us all.

Fortunately, good, solid work has been done toward that end. Under the direction of Juvenile Court Presiding Judge Michael Nash, the School Attendance Task Force—a Project of the L.A Education Coordinating council—has explored ways to fight truancy based on best practices and research. Better yet, reforms are being implemented in places like the Alhambra Unified School District, which saw a 61% reduction in truancy in two years after it rolled out a mental health program for students.

Implementing these types of reforms requires something from all of us: a culture that values education and puts its money where its mouth is.

Bonnie Latham Lyon, Calabasas

The writer is a vice president at Californians United to Reform Education.