One of the parents on our advisory committee meeting at the Boys and Girls Club was in a bit of a panic because she’d just learned that the dates her son’s middle school had announced for next year’s registration fall on the same days as her family vacation to Hawaii. We’ve been out of school for three weeks now and have just learned the dates of registration, yet it actually takes place during the summer break. She immediately called the school, and when she couldn’t get a hold of anyone there, she called the District to find out what she could do. They couldn’t give her any solid information. We told her, since it’s the law that our children actually go to school, they can’t not register him just because he’s out of town those days. Still, she has no idea how she’s going to accomplish this, and has absolutely no support thus far from the school or the District to get it done.
Talk about timing. Not 24 hours later, our fearless (and fabulous) leader, Aparna, sent us this article, discussing how in the state of New York, over 60% of the cases of Educational Neglect (truancy) are cases of teenagers. The spirit of the law was for Child Protective Services to be able to investigate whether a student’s safety was in jeopardy. Yet, for the majority of the teenagers, this wasn’t the case.
The Vera Institute’s report recommends that more support needs to be given to help parents meet this obligation. They recognize that these parents are not actually neglectful or abusive, but struggling with conflicts with their teenagers or financial difficulties. The California Budget Project released a report, stating that California residents need incomes more than double the federal poverty line. The Vera’s report also noted homelessness and mobility as truancy issues. Child Protective Services can’t do anything about those problems. Instead, families that are already struggling have to go in front of a judge to explain these issues and prove their innocence.
This seems to be a common theme for parents these days: being assumed to be apathetic before given the benefit of the doubt.
My 12-year-old has already threatened to not go to school if she’s having a bad morning. My blood runs cold whenever she does. I can do my part by dropping her off in front of the school, I can watch her go through the doors, but after that, it’s a matter of trust. I have to go to work to earn our living and I can just hope that she continues to do her part. While she has yet to be guilty of truancy, we were sent home a letter because there were three days last year that I kept her out of school for other reasons that weren’t “official” excuses in the school’s rulebook. I sent notes that I’d excused the absences, but that wasn’t good enough for the school.
At the same time that all this is going on, there are also thousands of parents that have just been notified of furlough days, and are scrambling to find suitable child care almost once a month.
In a time where quality education has never been more important, almost every day parents have a new battle to face against them; and more importantly, their children.