NEWSLETTER: Chronic absenteeism — Kids can’t learn if they keep skipping class

Friends and Neighbors,

This will be my final e-newsletter for 2023. You will receive my next one during the first week of January, so I want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The 2024 Legislative Session begins Monday, Jan. 8. It will end Thursday, March 7. You will receive weekly e-newsletters from me so that you are kept informed about my work, but I will also cover other legislative issues that affect you.

If you want to follow the list of legislation I sponsor, you can find it here. If you want to testify on any of my bills, or any other bills, that receive a hearing, you can find out how to do so here. 

If you have questions or concerns, you can email me at 


John Braun


Students can’t learn if they keep skipping class

Before the pandemic school closures, chronic absenteeism was a problem for schools nationwide. About 15% of our students were missing school too often. As a result of the closures, the number of students who are chronically absent has nearly doubled to 29%.

Kids can’t learn if they aren’t in class. And if they are missing class too often, they will not merely miss a lesson or two here and there. They will fall far behind. This problem is contributing to the lasting and significant learning loss we are facing.

Interestingly, a trend schools are seeing now that is different than being absent from the school, but still counts as absenteeism, is “hall walking.” This is when students show up to school but do not actually attend class. They walk the halls, congregate and socialize, and disregard their courses. This not only undermines their own education, but also disrupts the learning environment for others. It is difficult to find statistics to determine how widespread this is, but it is a growing problem.

There are even online chats guiding kids on how to skip class and walk the halls without getting caught.

Currently, I am drafting a bill that will address the issue of chronic absenteeism. I’m hoping to provide tools for school districts to get our kids back into the classroom. If we are to close the gap that learning loss has created, we have to find a way to improve attendance and hold students accountable. More on this as the process moves forward. If you have thoughts on this issue, email me.




UPDATE: Governor’s office downplays whistleblower’s claims

In my last newsletter, I shared my thoughts about a lawsuit being filed by an economist who worked for the Washington State Department of Transportation and was tasked with predicting how much the “cap-and-tax” program would cost you at the gas pump. He was forced out of his job after he refused to lie about the numbers.

Now being reported is the governor’s office’s reaction when confronted about the lawsuit. His deputy communications director didn’t deny the whistleblower’s claims. Instead, he said they relied on estimates from the Department of Ecology and not WSDOT.

It doesn’t matter whose numbers the governor claims he relied on. What matters is that an agency serving his interests pressured an employee to lie to make the program look less burdensome to Washington drivers.

That alone is unconscionable, but not taking the accusations seriously is a dereliction of duty. I will update you further as this situation evolves.


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