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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Arresting Parents, Huh...

I am not so sure how I feel about dragging parents off in handcuffs because their kids skip school. I realize the parents are all Latino and because we are therefore prone to assume their kids are gang members, or that the parents "don't consider education all that important" as I have read on more than one occasion, that makes these drastic measures somehow OK.

Yes, I know that an education is important, and it is a parent's duty to make sure their children get to school, it's just that I also wonder whether the motivation for arresting these parents stems from genuine concern about the children's welfare or the money the schools don't get when kids are marked absent. If this works out well for the school, my guess is that we will start to see more of it.

It is not that they didn't go at all; one of the examples cited claimed one girl had "30 tardies and 10 unexcused absences" which sounds like a lot, but is it enough to justify hauling the parents off to jail? My attendance record during my freshman year of high school would have landed my parents in jail according to those standards. I am chronically late, so it is easy for me to rack up the tardies, and I was kind of a flake that year and would skip periods I didn't like or go to the beach on a nice day. My grades suffered during my freshman year, but then I got smart and pulled my grades up to near a 4.0, but I still skipped my chemistry class more often than not.

My son sometimes calls me from school and asks if he can come home because for whatever reason they are watching movies that day or pulling some other kind of nonsense. I tell him "sure", because I don't see why he should waste his time watching Avatar for the 5th time.

If these actions by the school were occurring in isolation, and the state was otherwise behaving itself, perhaps I would not feel so uneasy about it. It just so happens, however, that I recently had my own phone disconnected because the city of Ventura was calling me every 25 minutes about a trumped up fix-it ticket I was given. The cop did a 360 degree spin of my car and included every little bump and scratch he could find and put it down as "in need of repair". These ran us close to $1,000 - on a 5 year old car. I missed the court date, so the calls began: every 25 minutes starting at 8:00 in the morning until 8:00 at night. When I picked up the phone, there was nobody there but a recorded message.

I know I have to take care of it, and I will pay my fines, but I resent being harassed because they are after my money. With the politicians in Sacramento writing record numbers of new laws to control our lives and behaviors and tell us what is good for us and what isn't, the time when you get to decide how to run your life will soon be over, and you will be spending all of your energy on avoiding the authorities or getting hauled into jail. Forget pulling your kids out of school for a family vacation unless you wish to spend it in the slammer.

That's how it is in a police state.

RH

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