“Should Parents Be Punished For Truancy?”

“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?

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5 thoughts on ““Should Parents Be Punished For Truancy?”

  1. Larry
    You are so right about the balancing act. What worries me is the increase in the number of suggestions/articles about forced parent involvement. For example – “legislate parent attendance at parent teacher interviews” and “mandated volunteer time.”
    In my opinion, what is missing is a commitment to parent education. I know that you have done considerable work in this regard and more people should follow your example. Those pointing fingers at parents need to point right back at themselves. What are people doing to support parents? Whose is teaching parents how to help their child succeed in school?

  2. Should teachers be punished for truancy?
    –What if they have sped students? Subs are not familiar with exiting IEPs.
    –Should the schools performance matter?

    Some of this argument rests on parent discipline.
    –Should teachers be punished for restraints and seclusion?

    This topic discusses the symptom not the problem. Push back?
    –Should teacher performance review be tied to student engagement or lack thereof leading to truancy?

    Most states, and the Sup Court, recognize public education as a privilege not a right. If a parent or child of age chooses not to participate, then that is their right. If teachers or nanny stateists want 100% student participation (while howling at 100% student pass NCLB rates) or greater participation, then recognize market forces and build a better mouse trap.

    To even flirt with LEAs criminalizing parents proves the disconnect that Eduspeakers don’t recognize parents are their employer. Education is a service industry. Is there any wonder no one is in line at their Customer Service Desk?

  3. Thanks for sharing. I do a Philosophical Chairs discussion about this with adults when working with new teachers. It is always interesting to get more information on this topic.

  4. As for the question, I always find that a balance system seems to work best. When we are debating it though it is interesting to see how adults will fall on one side or the other. Much of it is based not on their common sense, but more on their experiences themselves with this topic.

    Found the 61% teenagers fact to be amazing. That just shows that neglect is not just an issue for younger kids.

  5. Pingback: The Battles of Education | Parentella

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