Rockford, Ill., is struggling with a truancy crisis more than four times the state average. Community leaders blame entrenched poverty, an undervaluing of education and other social problems affecting generations of families. They say it’s hard for kids to take school and the future seriously when people around them are losing jobs and businesses are packing up and leaving town.
Chicago Public Radio’s education reporter Jay Field spent a year following Rockford’s struggle with school truancy, investigating the link between truancy and Rockford’s economic struggles, its impact on the city’s sense of itself, how it’s affecting the city’s youth and what community leaders are doing to combat truancy. CPR’s Julia McEvoy served as senior editor on the project.
Judges lauded the “carefully crafted, well-researched and well-executed three-part feature,” saying it “puts flesh and bones on a complex issue. The reporter let his tape do the talking, and the stories were compelling. The story looked at all sides of a very complex issue. Clear writing and excellent use of sound; scenes and interviews held our interest throughout.”