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Students In Rural Regions Are More Likely To Be Absent Than Their Urban Counterparts

Julie Leopo
In the town of Paradise, some kids ride the bus for an hour or more to get to school. In some cases, if they miss the bus, then they don't attend that day.

Skipping school, cutting class, senior ditch day - some consider truancy a part of adolescence. But looking at the data, one reporter found that students in rural regions have a much higher risk of being chronically absent from school, and the reasons aren’t so simple. David Washburn reported on this issue in a two-part series for the online publication, EdSource. He went to Butte County to speak to students whose families suffer from drug abuse disorder and live in poverty to find out how these issues, among others, can keep school from being a priority. Washburn also visited Paradise, the town devastated by the Camp Fire last year, and reported how chronic absenteeism was a persistent problem even before the fire

His reporting was supported by the USC Center for Health Journalism’s Data Fellowship, the California Endowment and the Education Writers Association Reporting Fellowship.

Listen to the interview above with David Washburn, now the news and investigations editor at KPBS in San Diego, as he explains what “chronic absence” means, why the state recently started recording it, and how some schools are trying to combat the issue.

Laura Tsutsui was a reporter and producer for Valley Public Radio. She joined the station in 2017 as a news intern, and later worked as a production assistant and weekend host. Laura covered local issues ranging from politics to housing, and produced the weekly news program Valley Edition. She left the station in November 2020.
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