February 5 — 9:11 pm, 2010

High school students tackle truancy with media campaign

Members of the District’s Student Truancy Task Force launched a public awareness campaign in January focused on bringing kids back to school.

Called T.A.C.K.L.E. TRUANCY (Time and Commitment are Keys to Loving Education), the student-led campaign kicked off with radio and newspaper ads calling for students to recommit themselves to their education.

Campaign ads will also appear on SEPTA buses, and celebrity athletes Donovan McNabb, Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins have committed to recording public service announcements. About 1,000 posters will soon hang in high schools.

Students are also spreading the word through their website, which includes the campaign’s pledge, facts about truancy, and personal stories of once-truant students.

“Truancy must be stopped, and I know because I was a high school dropout due to truancy,” said Ryan Jordan, a junior at Career Academic Development Institute and member of the task force.

“But one of the reasons why I went back to school is because the little ones were looking up to me and I had to set a good example,” he said.

In the 2008-09 school year, there were 11,000 students truant every day. The year before, one million instructional hours were lost due to truancy.

“We’re working with the Office of Attendance and Truancy to target the 20 most truant high schools and 20 most truant middle schools with this message,” said David Brown, president of BrownPartners, an advertising and marketing agency that helped coordinate the media push.

The School Reform Commission voted last November to award $50,000 to the campaign, which is expected to run through June. Other campaign plans include a truancy march, a concert, a mentor program, and a documentary.

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