Threatened by “jail time,” Philadelphia parents of chronic truants showed up at a group meeting to hear a lecture on truancy from Mayor John Street. The city sent letters to parents of 6,000 truant parents; about 4,000 people came to hear the mayor’s pitch, accompanied by threats. The Inquirer reports:
From now on, (Street) said, Philadelphia School District students with more than three unexcused absences will get a home visit from a truant officer. And parents whose children rack up eight or more illegal absences could find themselves in weekend parenting classes, hauled before a judge, or even in a jail cell.
For years, teachers have been complaining that they’re held accountable for the progress of students who don’t bother to show up every day. They want parents held accountable. But how? Following through on the mayor’s threats will be an expensive proposition. For a start, Philadelphia is hiring 400 new truant officers.
Some parents clearly are reluctant to accept responsibility.
. . . the threat of a fine she can’t afford or of jail time was enough to get (Krissy Jackson) to the meeting.
“It’s $500, or you could go to jail,” Jackson said. “I don’t want to do that.”
Jackson said she does her part. She faulted the schools for not being able to keep students in class.
“What should we do?” she asked. “We’re a lot of single parents. I give them [SEPTA] tokens and send them to school – I can’t do anything else.”
Chronic truants start missing class in elementary school. By high school it may be too late for parents to assert control.
Education Gadfly has more on “anti-poverty paternalism.”