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Rawlings-Blake Tackles Dropout Rates At The Elementary Level

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Rawlings-Blake school attendance
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Mike Schuh joined WJZ Eyewitness News as a general assignment reporter...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A recent study of dropouts in Baltimore shows that for those who drop out, absences begin in elementary school.

Mike Schuh reports the mayor is personally asking students to keep coming to class.

In Baltimore, 15 percent of elementary school kids miss more than 20 days a year.

So the mayor is using the celebrity of being mayor “to encourage the students to come to school every day on time,” Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said.

Monday it’s the Wolfe Academy in Upper Fells, a mostly Hispanic school whose parents are getting their kids there on time.

“Reaching numbers such as 98-99 percent daily attendance, they get it,” said Mark Gaither, Wolfe Academy principal.

But even with such high numbers, the mayor tells these kids there is a city-wide contest for the school that shows the best improvement in attendance.

“I remember, you know, meeting elected officials when I was a kid and how important, and it sticks with [you] the rest of your life, so I want to do everything I can with the time I have to make sure that I’m giving that good impression to our kids to share with them the things I care about [are] important to them as well,” Rawlings-Blake said.

Last week it was Frederick Elementary, and this will continue every Monday

Gaither says the mayor’s visit shows his kids what they can achieve.

“As a regular person who grew up in Baltimore, who went through a series of hoops to rise to what she is now, it’s great for the kids because it shows what’s attainable,” Gaither said.

The kids asked the mayor if she’s rich, lives in a mansion and has a limo. The answers: no, townhouse and no.

Her few minutes on a Monday morning will perhaps have a lasting effect.

“We need to make sure they’re in school ready to learn because we’re turning all of this over to them,” Rawlings-Blake said.

The mayor’s elementary school attendance competition continues until the day before Thanksgiving.

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