Bearing Witness

by Billy Shore

Letter from 52nd Street Elementary School in South L.A.

Sunday, March 17, 2013


Just back from three days in California. The highlight was an early morning visit to the 52nd Street Elementary School in South L.A. which has 850 students and last October switched to breakfast-in-the-classroom notwithstanding initial resistance on the part of teachers and others. Principal Jimenez explained that before breakfast-in-the-classroom there were 250 children with perfect attendance records, but that now there are 439 with perfect attendance and the only thing that’s changed is breakfast.  Talk about measureable outcomes!
I had never before seen “perfect attendance” used as a metric. But I do know that of the numerous national organizations such as Communities in Schools, America’s Promise, City Year and College Summit doing heroic work addressing the nation’s drop-out crisis, all will tell you that attendance is a leading indicator of graduation rates.   In the second grade classroom we visited our recent Deloitte report on the link between school breakfast and academic achievment came to life. @