Updated 02/10/2011 08:10 PM
Mayor Launches Multimedia Campaign Against Cutting Class
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The mayor has teamed up with some big names to get kids who cut class to go back to school.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched "Wake Up! NYC," the city's first multimedia campaign aimed at reducing truancy, at Isaac Newton Middle School in East Harlem Thursday.
The program encourages chronically absent students, by giving them automated wake-up calls recorded by stars like Magic Johnson, New York Mets shortstop Jose Reyes and R&B artist Trey Songz.
"When they get the message, they will do what the message is asking them to do. Take responsibility for your child, or if you're a child, take responsibility for your own life, and go to school," said Bloomberg.
"It may be cool to skip out every now and then. And my man shook his head, he said, 'No, that's not cool.' And that's the attitude to have," said Trey Songz.
"You know, imagine the young girls, how excited they’ll be when they hear Trey Songz say, ‘Yup, it’s school time,’” said BET host Terrence J.
BET, MTV, Kiss FM and Hot 97 will also take part in the initiative, promoting attendance through on-air and social media.
The program will initially target 6,500 students with high absenteeism, and later expand citywide. But students can opt out of the calls, and they’ll be placed to whatever phone number is on file, which could be a parent’s phone.
The new campaign builds on a pilot program that began last year at 25 schools with high absenteeism. Among other things, the city paired up chronically absent students with adult mentors. Officials say, so far, the results are promising.
School attendance improved almost across the board; Isaac Newton Middle School reduced absenteeism almost 39 percent.
The hope is that celebrity messaging can help drive attendance even higher.