“Should Parents Be Punished For Truancy?” is an interesting, though, I don’t think, a particularly well-written, article in the Huffington Post.
Here are a some excerpts that raise important questions (though it’s focused on New York City, I think these may be issues faced in many districts):
Kelley’s story is just one of many that illustrates the flaws with how the current system deals with teenagers; they’re treated just like little kids even though there are vast differences in the reasons why a 16-year-old and why a six-year-old might miss school. Despite these differences, teenagers make up 61 percent of educational neglect reported to ACS….
Younger kids can’t get themselves to school on time so it is not unreasonable for parents to be held responsible. But teenagers have a far greater degree of independence and don’t always use it well. Rather than manage their time, they may stroll into class 20 minutes late. Rather than deal with a hated subject, they might skip. Rather than face bullies or teasing, they may avoid campus altogether. Matt Malloy, principal of Aspirations Diploma Plus High School in Brooklyn, said that parents usually don’t know about the absences, not because of neglect, but because of the student’s own design. “Very often what happens is the student has found a way to have the home not know what he or she is doing,” he said….
While parents aren’t absolved from the responsibility of seeing that their children attend school simply because they are teenagers, schools should be taking some responsibility to fix problems that may be contribute to absenteeism. Yet many schools simply report absences to ACS and shift responsibility onto an already overworked and underequipped system. The State Central Registry, where teachers call to report parents, is used by schools to wash “their hands of these cases,” said Mike Arsham, the executive director of the Child Welfare Organizing Project and one of the advisers of the Vera report.
For many schools, it seems that the priority is not always to protect the child, but to ensure educators cannot be held legally responsible if there is some kind of neglect.
It’s a challenging issue, and some kind of balance is needed.
What do you think?