Four years ago, we took one simple step to make our school system more equitable for students and families in every ward of DC. After hearing from families across the city that the cost of public transportation was keeping some students home from school, I authored and funded our city’s first Kids Ride Free program. In finding a practical solution to an unnecessary problem, we sent families and students a clear message: we cannot put a price tag on a day of learning.
Two years later, when I became Mayor, I worked quickly to expand the program so that in addition to being able to take the bus, our public school students also have the option of taking Metrorail to and from school-related events for free. Today, many families across DC are saving over $700 a year because of Kids Ride Free.
No young person should ever miss a day of school because of the cost of transportation. In DC, one in four students is chronically absent, meaning they miss ten percent or more of the entire school year. By sixth grade, we know chronic absenteeism is strongly linked to dropping out of high school.
As a community, it is our responsibility to do everything in our power to ensure that all our students are in school every day, ready to learn. This year, we are doubling-down on our efforts to reduce absenteeism by increasing coordination across public agencies and stakeholders, investing in data-driven strategies to increase attendance rates, and rewarding students and schools that improve attendance throughout the school year.
Want to do more to help a young person in DC succeed? Go to serve.dc.com to learn about opportunities to volunteer and mentor in Washington, DC. Every day counts and we can all play a role in helping our students succeed.
Learn more about our #EveryDayCounts efforts at attendance.dc.gov and find information about Kids Ride Free at kidsridefree.dc.gov.