Education in Oakland

What do you think about punishing parents for truant children?

Posted by novometro on June 10, 2009

The Chron reported on Tuesday that recent efforts to combat chronic truancy in the San Francisco Unified School District yielded modest returns especially at the K-5 level, where the number of students with 20 or more unexcused absences dropped by 23 percent over last year. The results were less impressive in the upper grades. Truancy dropped by 4 percent in middle school, but rose 2 percent in high school. To be fair, it sounds like the school district focused on the lower grades. Last year, around 100 families were directed to intervention programs where the consequences of truancy were spelled out in clear terms. And seven families were sent to court. After all, it’s against the law to let your kids skip school.

San Francisco’s anti-truancy results come as Oakland Unified prepares to close a truancy center in West Oakland because it’s not working and costs the district around $1.2 million a year. School districts lose money every time a student is truant, so a truancy center should at least pay for itself. A source says that one of the chief reasons it failed was because Oakland Police Department officers who picked up truant kids resented the time it took to deliver them to the West Oakland Truancy Center. Plans to open an East Oakland Truancy Center never materialized. In 2007-08, OPD picked up 592 truants, which is only a fraction of the 4,000 truants in Oakland skipping school on any given day in that year.

Today, the number should be less. While the Truancy Center was not a success, OUSD reports it has made strides in reducing the number of truants. Last school year, elementary truants dropped by 27 percent,  middle schools reported an impressive 18 percent decline, and high school truancy came down by 1.5 percent.

Taking a tougher stance with parents in the San Francisco model is not something that’s likely to happen in Oakland. According to sources in OUSD, Gail Brewster Bereola, the presiding judge of Juvenile Court at the Alameda County Superior Court, is opposed to measures that would punish parents for truant children.


8 Responses to “What do you think about punishing parents for truant children?”

  1. It’s not the government’s job to tell parents how to raise their kids. More laws and more taxes aren’t always the answer to every little problem that comes up. Man.

  2. blackie said

    Punishing parents for truant children is a great first step in invovling parents in the lives of their children.

  3. I’ll vote and campaign against any politician that pursues this.

  4. Ralph said

    They have been doing this in cities on the other coast for forever and a day. I do not know if it works. I think you get the most bang for your buck by targeting younger students and having a center closer to their home school.

    Really Bjorn, if these parents were actually rearing these kids, we wouldn’t have the social problem that we do. Probably the best approach is to strip the ineffectual parents of both the ability to reproduce and their children but that is probably a non-starter.

  5. Ray Rey said

    Get theui A** Later we will pay for their miseducation. Im sick of all the excuses. If they are immigrants- base their residency on lazy parents and kids

  6. Mrs. Snow said

    I think that parents should be 100% responsible for their children’s actions! If the parents are too lazy to force them to go to school, then yes they should have to pay for their laziness. I’ve been a mother since I was 16-years old and, although I was young, I knew that I wasn’t going to be lazy like my mother and let my child get away with everything. I kept on fighting and trying and yes, I’ve lost some of the battles and given up at times but I kept pressing on. At times, I had to have “tough love” and get the law involved in a few situations but now that my daughter looks back she appreciates me being tough on her. She sees her friends parents who are lazy and she tells me that “their parents must not care because if they did they would get up and do something about it”. I’m tired of these lazy parents (Here in America!) and I do want to see these parents be held responsible for the actions of their children-not just for truancy but for all of their law-breaking habits!

  7. Stupid Law said

    I don’t see how this law will stop truancy, actually it condones truancy, and promotes it.
    “Hey children, especially rebellious teens, if you want to punish your parents for your own actions because you are too lazy to go to school or don’t care about your own future, just ditch school. By ditching school, you get no school and you get your parents in trouble.” This actually will make them want to ditch more. Who made up this dumb law?

    @Mrs. Snow,

    It’s not always the lazy parents, sometimes there are children who are just lazy and don’t care about anything but drugs and having fun. What can you do to “force” these children to be more responsible if talking, lecturing won’t work? I seriously doubt you have any children. Your reply shows you lack experience with dealing with children & unfortunately you and people like you have the right to vote and make dumb laws like this valid.

    You don’t teach responsibility by making the parents responsible, rather make it so the child is responsible for his/her own actions and consequences.

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