26 January 2011

It's Called STEALING.

I'm sad for you AND me that we both can't afford to move into the best, most ritzy suburb there is and send our children to public school there without paying the astronomical property taxes that go along with it. Really. It's a bummer deal, that.

For my part, I KNOW I will never be able to give my children the education I was privileged enough to have in places like this growing up. Sorry! We get "booming and overcrowded Kansas City suburb" instead. That's the best district Mom and Dad can afford right now. Life isn't fair, and my children won't get a free ride all four years through college, either. And no, Mom and Dad are not refinancing their home or sacrificing their retirement to put them through. We love our kids, but we're also looking at the fact that Woodjie is going to probably need us as long as we're around, and he might just need the other children to look in on him after we're gone.

Did I mention that life is not fair? It genuinely sucks sometimes.

But my point. It's not right to falsify documents and say you're living somewhere you're not so that your children can go to the nice school instead of the one in the crappy district YOU decided to live in. I mean, I'd like to live in a nicer place, too, but nobody put a gun to my head and forced me to live *here.* They didn't do that to you, either, lady.

So either move in with your dad who lives in that district BEFORE filing papers, do private or home-school, or deal with the fact that YOU chose a crummy place to raise a family. But lying on the enrollment forms and then whining that it isn't fair there are criminal charges against you is flat-out wrong. And I hope the district is able to recover every last penny from your sorry self.

And you wanted to be a teacher?? What is up with that?


  1. That kind of thing is pretty common down here, too. We live in one of the top 20 largest districts in the country, and parents routinely lie and say they live in the neighboring district by using the addresses of their more fortunate friends and relatives.

    They even have officers dedicated to watching where some the kids they suspect don't belong there go when they get off the bus.

    I guess this is a by-product of the fact that almost all American school districts (even the good ones) aren't that great.

    But you're right. It IS wrong.

  2. This was the next video


    I think he is right. If all the schools were better then this becomes a non~issue. I can't blame this woman. She might be wrong but then so is the system that created the injustic & which is the greater wrong?

  3. Wow, it never ceases to amaze me what some people are willing to do...

  4. That's not how they do it here in Minnesota. My oldest is being driven back to my town to her substandard, alternative "school" (yes, the place where they warehouse all the kids whose behavior is too disruptive to allow them to be successful in a regular classroom) that is in a different school district than where she is living now. She is 100 miles away, so of course -- no bus. So, get this. A personal care attendant is going to be paid to drive her 2 hours here, sit with her in class from 1PM to 5PM and then drive her 2 hours back TWICE a week. Add the cost of gas...

    I told her that she wouldn't be able to get anyone to approve funding. It is a waste of the taxpayer money. It isn't fair that the state would be paying for this when other people are losing service. But, what do I know.

    She starts Monday.

  5. And people wonder why their children think it's okay to grow up and think nothing of lying....maybe it's the example set for them???

    This bugs me for a personal reason, though. Our local district has 5 elementary schools. When one is full they have to shove kids over to the other ones, even if they live next door to the one they *should* go to. Our son has asthma, and it was really bad when he was younger. The bus driver couldn't allow him to have an inhaler on the bus- what if another child found it and used it?- but he also couldn't go to the school closest to us to eliminate a longer bus ride and a chance of him going without life saving medication could he not breathe. The building was full. He instead was sent to a school 30 minutes away, his bus ride an hour long.

    Once he was established in the school, I met three different families who were LYING and sending their children to the building my SON couldn't attend because it was deemed full. Even though we built our home near it because we wanted out children to go there. I reported all 3 families to the Superintendant and was told that they aren't PI's, that they take everyone at their word for their address, and I needn't be a trouble maker. (One parent I reported just happened to be the head of the PTO)

    Another reason I do not miss the public school system!

  6. Terry, I do wonder how much they spend on these officers and surveillance, but it's starting to sound like a necessary expense. I would much prefer an old-fashioned "records check" than the spy following my kids home from school. That's sorta creepy.

    Ganeida, I know there are crappy districts out there, but the people in the ritzy districts are paying not only higher taxes, but also higher tax RATES that they vote in themselves by district. So it's rather like trying to send your kid to "Super Expensive Steak" district when you have chosen to live in McDonaldland and the neighbourhood kids are fighting over a pickle.

    I see what you're saying, but it's still stealing. TENS of THOUSANDS of dollars' worth of stealing.

    Zachary, it amazes me that the lady knew she was lying and admits it but somehow thinks she's being picked on AND goes on camera to talk about it. AND they report it.

    Julie, I'm amaaazed that they are funding this. You know... this is why the wait lists are years and years long. Here's hoping she gets something out of it though and some positive things come from it. It HAS to be less expensive than some other very bad alternatives that are out there if she continues down a wrong path...

    Blondee, NOW is your time to contact the media! The school district can't retaliate! :)

  7. Well, in good old NZ--or at least where we live, parents can choose where they want their kids to attend. So, do you know what happens? All of the white kids (whose parents can afford to drive them there) go to the wealthy white suburban school. The other kids--go to whatever school is close by. That is just for primary and intermediate. It's gets worse in high school. The best public school is estentially a private school with fees and many wealthy people from the really rural areas up north pay to have their kids board there. That leaves the "other" kids again going to the not so top schools. It's shocking.

    We are all mixed up as to where we live. Because let's face it when a "starter" home costs $250,000 you are going to live where you can even if it's not the best neighbourhood. But don't worry your kids won't have to go to the "bad" school with your yucky neighbours--not if you have the means to drive them across town.

  8. You know I know zilch about how your system works. It just seems to me rather like all our taxes going to elitist private schools 75% of the population can't afford to send their kids to while the cruddy districts do without ~ so the poor get poorer through lack of a good education & the rich get richer ~ & that is just wrong. There is nothing right about only giving to those who already have too much. Level the playing field. Of course the reality is that what would happen is everyone would end up with a crappy education instead of everyone ending up with a good one. Of course what this woman has done is wrong ~ but I really understand what has driven her to do it. On the other hand I'm not one of the people rorted by her actions. Maybe I'd feel differently if I had to live with the system you do.

  9. Bonnie, the idea that one can choose the school one wishes to attend is actually much more equitable than the system we have here. Assuming everyone pays the same tax rate. This is one of the big ps union arguments against charter schools and choice in public education: the "good" students will leave and the public schools will be really bad. As if they're not already in some places and charter schools can help some children do well.

    Can I ask what the property taxes run on a "starter" home of $250,000? Here, I have about a $120,000 house (before market crash, but still being charged the same or HIGHER taxes, funny how that goes) and pay about $5,000 annually on the house and $800 on our TEN YEAR OLD cars. Only imagine what I'd be forking out if I had ritzy digs and a new van. Better believe I'd be mad if someone illegally sent their kids to the school district I'm supporting so lavishly. I haven't even included sales tax and the like yet...

    Devorah, I personally don't believe in "levelling the playing field" across the board, though private charity is something altogether different. I can understand her motivation as well but I think they ought to throw the book at her. I can't afford the "nicer" school district myself. It would go against a basic sense of fairness to allow her (or anyone) to get away with it.

    Here, schools are supported on a per-pupil basis by the state and then also the federal government gives AMAZIIINGLY lots of dollars to poor districts through something called Title I. And on top of that? TWO BILLION for Kansas City schools. They're still really crappy. Per pupil, these raunchy schools actually get more money than ours do, and we tax ourselves silly.

    The problem isn't the money only.

  10. She was clearly made a example of... I mean jail time? How about a great big fine? Ruin her credit if you have to.

    But... I work wayyy to hard to teach my kids right and wrong and it cheeses me off when people find these little gray areas to wiggle into and call it justified.

    Sure mom, take the hook-up at the grocery store, but don't cry to me when your kid is in jail for stealing.

  11. Wellll, ten days of jail time and probation for three years. Apparently the school tried to work it out with her so that she would just pay the money back, but she decided to involve her dad and file false papers stating she lived there.

    One blog compared her to Rosa Parks because schools for poor black families aren't usually as good as they are in the majority white districts. But I'm pretty sure Rosa Parks paid for her bus ride. With her own money.

  12. You each bring out valid points but what we always miss (and why we never resolve the big problems) is how to weigh and balance them all. A child's need for free and appropriate education is a different thing from a taxpayer's need for equity and very different from a mother's devotion to getting the best possible opportunities for her own child. We are wrong the minute we stack them against each other and then choose. The thorniest moral problems are not right-wrong conflict but competing rights whether none is wrong to want/ need, often literally the morality of people's rights being set against each other.

    Schooling is a people business and the problems I faced as a school professional were ALL about competing rights between very human humans. Seldom wrong or bad, just in conflict.

  13. And Mrs C or Happy Elf Mom -- our home is appraised at around $250K and yet our property taxes are less than yours here in Florida's capital city, probably about 80% of what you are paying. And no car or income tax.

  14. I felt really walloped when we moved here on the taxes, and it just got worse over time. And in order to do about anything, you must show paid property tax receipts. I'm not understanding it all but it had to do with approved bonds and increased millage (?). Did I mention that a portion of my husband's gross income goes to Kansas City b/c he works there? So... he IS paying plenty for the education of inner-city kids as well as his own.

    Anyway. Yes, we are all very human in all the GOOD and BAD sense of the word. I do see why she would want to do such a thing, just as I would see why someone would want to immigrate illegally. I still think it's wrong and that there need to be penalties, though. I'm sure this is one of the few people who was willing to talk on camera AND whose situation has gone far enough that jail became a real possibility. Most people back down way before that point.

    One blog likened her to Rosa Parks, but I would counter that Rosa Parks bought her ticket. :)

  15. Rosa Parks is an interesting example, actually. She bought the ticket a lot of days (a lifetime!) before that day, but wasn't ever given fair and equal service in return. She finally had to just take it in spite of the rules being used to deprive her of it.

  16. I expect this woman had bought her ticket too, wasn't a tax cheat in the sense that she was paying her fair share of property, sales and other taxes as assessed? Further, as I understand it, the dad paid too -- two households worth of taxes being paid but only one set of children! And these were the dad's legal children and he did legally live where they wanted to attend public school. It's not like the family was illegally double-dipping to get more than their fair share of public shcooling or committing, um, school bigamy? ;-)

    So the only real complaint seems to revolve around the irrelevant-to-education construct of the children living more with her than with him, and the common belief schools have the right to exclude them from their free, appropriate education based on that administrative convenience, even if it isn't as appropriate, unsettlingly like the old school zoning rules that kept the schools segregated?

  17. I'm off to bed but one more thought: some homeschooling parents risked jail to break the school rules back in the 80s. For their children. Were they cheats, too? Or is that okay because it wasn't a tax complaint?

  18. Good MORNING, JJ!

    Interesting perspective on the homeschool tie-in there. Though I would venture to say we have a right to the possession of our homes and property and children. We don't, however, have the right to steal stuff on our family's behalf.

    The LADY's father is the one in the other school district, not the father of the children (and who is their father, anyway?). My own father is pretty wealthy, but I can't send my children into his local school district legally. Bummer. :)

    In any event, the rules are you have to LIVE IN the district boundaries. Whether that was the children's father or not doesn't matter, really, in terms of that particular rule, unless she wanted to give up custody or move in with him.

    The district boundaries have been pretty well unchanged here since desegregation, with a few exceptions. So the schools are only now "segregated" insofar as people choose to move where they please. And I think that personal freedom has got to trump the goal of an integrated society.

    For my part, we moved well away from the Kansas City public district because we didn't want our children going there. Probably most people do the same just out of plain self-interest rather than racism, classism or a sense that we don't want to be desegregated. At least not consciously. There are plenty of poor white people and I do have to wonder if anyone would give a white family the same sympathy they are giving this lady.

    I just wonder about a lot of things. One more thing I wonder is about the thousands of other stories out there similar to this that are not being discussed.

  19. Good morning to you too :)

    Thanks for straightening out my misunderstanding, that in this particular case it was the granddad, not the dad, living in the school's district. Also for realizing that in the larger picture, it doesn't matter. She still would have been a criminal, and she's just one case in a much bigger mess of public and private problems with dysfunctional school system rules, funding schemes and conflicting ideas about education.

    You're right that immigrant children (usually citizens themselves regardless of rules about their parents) are part of America's school-rule problems, trying to access the education some of our rules guarantee them, at the same time other rules make it unreasonably hard or even impossible for them to get!

    If we're both right that both are wrong, that she did break the law (in this specific case) AND that we together have broken the law (literally, as in our laws and schools don't work to serve us well) -- then it's time for fixing the law, and if that takes hanging together rather than hanging separately, well, American rebels do have that tradition. ;-) Or we could just keep trying to control each other and keep punishing ourselves and everyone else over all the breakage that broken authority creates, from laws and rules to hearts and dreams.

    About homeschoolers breaking the law, you said: "we have a right to the possession of our homes and property and children." Children are above possessions but leabving that point for the moment, then wouldn't this cover not just homeschool rebels but regular schooling parents who wind up as truancy court defendants? MANY more parents are in court paying fines and even going to jail for not sending kids to school, than for sending them to school despite rules keeping them out. What about those laws? I know homeschoolers who judge them harshly, condemn them even.

    No matter what we use school rules to punish parents for, though, the bottom line is that innocent children lose out on the education we say we're guaranteeing them.

    The least fortunate urban children have parents with no choice or even no parents, just fosters, granddads or marginally less poor relations. So they tend to get moved around several times each school year, bunking with different relatives, friends, campgrounds and cars, in temporary assistance shelters.

    Never mind that school rules like attendance and homework pale in importance for kids trapped in such an unstable reality. Let's just look at the specific school zone rule about where they can or cannot enroll.

    Must they change schools every few weeks to stay legal with where they are sleeping that month? That's what putting the residency rule and taxpayer concerns above actual children's needs would require, isn't it? What about the thousands of literally homeless children in urban districts with no address at all? The law says they must go to school and perhaps they want to -- but where? Does that mean by the letter of the law they cannot attend any public school, because they don't live anywhere at all? Or conversely should they get total choice by just picking any streetcorner sidewalk wherever they please?

    Fixing what's broken would mean figuring out what's fair and educationally sound for the kids, moral for the community and manageable for the system. (Back in the 80s we had well over a thousand such children, about the same percentage as homeschoolers represent now, in our suburban school district. The economy was better then. With unemployment and foreclosure It must be worse now. For example, homeless schoolchildren doubled in NYC last year which in one school, was twenty percent of the kids! http://gothamist.com/2010/01/18/homeless_kids_may_lose_their_school.php)

  20. I'm not sure why some people flip out over truancy either... maybe to differentiate homeschoolers from "those people" and justify the movement? Sort of like our talking about how "socialized" our children are? But really it should be about the rights of the parents to control their child's education, or lack thereof. Though I think there oughtn't be compulsory education, but schools ought to be able to tell chronically truant students that they don't have a spot for them next semester... try again next year... but I don't know if that is politically feasible. I don't like truancy because of the money wasted. No other reason. I wish the parents could "just say no." :)

    And yep! Enrolling and transferring students is a HUGE HUGE pain in the hiney. The process from one district to another - in the same state and metro no less! - takes about a week and a half. That's once YOU provide papers to both sides (travel there and get, fill out, provide birth certificate etc.) I would tend to blame the parents rather than the schools for the difficulties this would create, though that doesn't help Joey learn his math better, I suppose.

    What's "fair," though, is not what the system can handle. But if we're talking about what the system can handle, we're working for the system and not the children. Being blunt for a second... you're really buying your child's peer group and the status of his high school when you move into an area.

    Private schoolers get to doubly-select, as it were. Homeschoolers can isolate from people they don't like, but don't (most of 'em) have gazoodles of money to buy the "right" friends even if they wished to. I don't wonder if half the puffery of saving x dollars and living frugally and godly, etc. isn't due to the fact that really? Those of us with six kids, homeschooling on one income can't really do much otherwise. It might be godly, but it's a necessity. We all need to be proud of something. :)

  21. Awww, thanks, JJ! You often make me think in ways I hadn't considered before. Just imagine... those rulebreaking homeschoolers... ha! Nobody in my acquaintance but you would say such a thing. :)


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