Posts Tagged ‘schools’

Jailed for missing school: the problem with truancy laws

My new piece at Reason begins:

We’ve seen it happen again and again: libertarians are derided over some supposedly crazy or esoteric position, years pass, and eventually others start to see why our position made sense. It’s happened with asset forfeiture, with occupational licensure, with the Drug War, and soon, perhaps, with libertarians’ once-lonely critique of school truancy laws.

In his 1980 book Free To Choose, economist Milton Friedman argued that compulsory school attendance laws do more harm than good, a prescient view considering what’s come since: both Democratic and Republican lawmakers around the country, prodded by the education lobby, have toughened truancy laws with serious civil and even criminal penalties for both students and parents. Now the horror stories pile up: the mom arrested and shackled because her honor-roll son had a few unexcused sick days too many, the teenagers managing chaotic home lives who are threatened with juvenile detention for their pains, the mother who died in jail after being imprisoned for truancy fines. It’s been called carceral liberalism: we’re jailing you, your child, or both, but don’t worry because it’s for your own good. Not getting enough classroom time could really ruin a kid’s life.

My article also mentions that a bill to reform Texas’s super-punitive truancy laws has reached Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, following the reported success of an experiment in San Antonio and pressure from a Marshall Project report. Finally, truancy-law reform is looking to become an issue across the political spectrum — but libertarians were there first. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty).

Schools roundup

Children and schools roundup

  • Story of free-range Meitiv kids goes national, cont’d: “Bystanders are forced [sic] to step in and enforce discipline because the parents aren’t around.” [Slate via @bibliographing] Yes, the cited “National Association to Protect Children” is a real group, I looked it up [Washington Jewish Week] “Epidemic of moms getting arrested for leaving children in car 5 mins to run into store.” [Kim Brooks, Salon via @Lorettamalakie]
  • What got buried in a WaPo column arguing that standardized tests for schoolkids are “a civil right.” [Ann Althouse] Testing issue allows teachers’ unions to make friends on the conservative side [NYT via same]
  • Legal costs exceed $100 per student at some Chicago-area public schools; $23 billed for one lawyer’s phone message [Tribune via ABA Journal]
  • Maintenance of Effort laws, meant to insulate school budgets against local voter control, might backfire [Free State Notes post by me, channeling my letter to the editor]
  • A dissent on liberalizing school discipline policies [Paul Sperry, New York Post]
  • Colorado school shootings: why is GOP leading push for emotion-driven, public-fisc-endangering lawsuits? [John Frank, Denver Post]
  • Expensive new playground mandates [Paul Best and Lenore Skenazy, more from Skenazy, Tim Gill via Common Good]

“Slain basketball player’s family files suit against Dallas ISD”

“The mother of slain Wilmer Hutchins basketball star Troy Causey Jr. has filed a federal lawsuit alleging that illegal recruiting practices at Dallas ISD schools led to her son’s death a year ago. … [She] alleges that coaches visited her 18-year-old son while he was in custody at Dallas County Youth Village during an eight-month stint there following an assault arrest and convinced him to play basketball.” Subsequently, Causey died after a beating at his residence, and a roommate who also played basketball for another Dallas school was charged with manslaughter in the case. Lawyers for the mother, Tammy Simpson, said school sports officials had helped place many players in such private living arrangements and should have known they were dangerous. [WFAA]

School bake sales defended in Virginia

S’more local autonomy that way: despite federal pressure in the other direction Virginia lawmakers are moving to enable more school bake sales [Laura Vozzella, Washington Post] Columnist Petula Dvorak finds the debate “ridiculous”: “The classic school bake sale to raise cash for sports equipment, class trips or charitable causes is actually an essential part of a curriculum,” teaching lessons of “entrepreneurship, independence, self-reliance, creation of a product.” Earlier on school bake sales here, here, here, here, here, here, etc.

February 19 roundup

  • Sheldon Silver’s law firm reportedly loses its special status in courts [New York Post] “Ex-congresswoman could get payout from court tied to Silver” [same; former Rep. Carolyn McCarthy]
  • “High School Teacher With Fear of Young Children Loses Disability-Bias Case” [EdWeek, h/t @aaronworthing]
  • “Worth remembering that, if they had the power in the 1980s, the public health lobby would have forced us to eat a diet they now say is bad.” [Christopher Snowdon, earlier]
  • Numbers confirm that AG Eric Holder’s forfeiture reform won’t directly affect great majority of cases [Institute for Justice via Jacob Sullum, earlier]
  • Despite curiously thin evidence that they work, bans on texting while driving roll on, including Mississippi [Steve Wilson, Watchdog, thanks for quote, earlier here, etc.] Draft Ohio bill has numerous troubling features, including broad bar on future technologies, vague distraction ban, stiffer penalties without judicial discretion, mandatory court dates for minor offenses [Maggie Thurber, Ohio Watchdog, thanks for quote]
  • Cop’s defense in sex assault of teen: he “[had] money problems and a bad guy scared [him]” [Trumbull, Ct.; Scott Greenfield, Connecticut Post]
  • “Dance like no one is watching; email like it may one day be read aloud in a deposition.” [Olivia Nuzzi]

Schools roundup

  • Illinois school district warns parents that in doing investigations under new cyber-bullying law it may require students to hand over their Facebook passwords [Vice Motherboard; earlier on “cyber-bullying”]
  • Powerful, from Christina Hoff Sommers: how a shoddy NPR / Center for Public Integrity campus-rape study fueled legal fury of Department of Education’s Civil Rights Division [The Daily Beast; more, Bader] Nancy Gertner, retired federal judge and prominent progressive voice, on due process for college accused [American Prospect] Questions for New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand [KC Johnson, Minding the Campus]
  • Smith College: “the word crazy was censored from the transcript, replaced with the term ‘ableist slur.'” [Kevin Cullen, Boston Globe]
  • “Community College Courtesy of the Federal Taxpayer? No Thanks” [Neal McCluskey, Arnold Kling]
  • “Families Of Two Newtown Victims Sue Town And School Board” [CBS Connecticut via Skenazy; recently on suits against gun businesses]
  • More coverage of open records requests as way to go after ideologically disliked professors [Inside Higher Ed, our take last month]
  • Washington Post piece went viral, but it’s dead wrong: “No, A Majority of US Public School Students are Not In Poverty” [Alex Tabarrok] Look, a not-yet-published paper that claims to confirm something many of us want dearly to believe about school finance. But will it have the staying power of Prof. Hanushek’s? [WaPo “WonkBlog”]