Truant parents

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.”

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  1. “We’re a lot of single parents.”

    Knock, knock. Anybody home?

  2. Frank Zavisca says:

    “What should we do?” she asked. “We’re a lot of single parents.

    Sorry, lady, your responsibility for parenting is the same as that of anyone else.

    Congrats to Mayor Street. For many of these “single parents” and others – this may be the first time in their children’s lives that anyone told them to “get your act together” with parenting.

    And they don’t need to do home visits for all of them – they need to do it to a few, to send a strong message – these are YOUR CHILDREN, not wards of the Public School System.

  3. wayne martin says:

    > “We’re a lot of single parents.”

    Maybe locate another single parent and begin to think through how two “single parents” might be better than one, by say, sharing resources or helping each other in some way that is beneficial to both parties and provides more supervision for the kids.


  1. […] Thanks to Joanne Jacobs, I saw this: Mayor Street told thousands of parents of chronic truants – ordered to appear at a woodshed session at the Liacouras Center last night or face jail time – that they would be smart to take advantage of their last chance for amnesty. […]