When you’re not sure where you’ll sleep, showing up to class isn’t what you’re worried about.

For educators, this makes for a daunting test.

“When families are dealing with not having basic necessities, school just isn’t a priority,” says Susanne Terry, coordinator for homeless education services in the San Diego County Office of Education. It’s worse for students who move around a lot, she says. They fall furthest behind.

Like in other major metro areas, privation exists alongside wealth in the Pacific coast city famous for its great weather and golden beaches. In San Diego, by some estimates the most expensive area in the entire country and a common vacation destination, about one-tenth of people live in poverty, according to a report from a grantmaker, the San Diego Foundation, published in late October. That’s 86,000 children experiencing poverty.

For students struggling to simply show up for school, this can translate to poor access to the basics. Housing is not always available, let alone stable access to food, a ride to and from school and the other conditions that have to be met for a student to really sink into learning, like internet access and a dedicated space for homework.

The absentee rates in San Diego — where, in 2021-2022, 30.4 percent of students were chronically absent, meaning they have missed at least 10 percent of school — are comparable to other large California cities. For homeless students, that rate is typically higher.

And the challenges are front of mind for many educators in the area, Terry says.

So how are they responding?

Read the full article about urban and rural school absenteeism by Daniel Mollenkamp at EdSurge.