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Mother Sent to Jail!

She's listed in the article as being the Missouri mother of a "truant" son, although she has been homeschooling for some time. Thanks to the Corn and Oil blog ( for the link.

What do you think about parents who use homeschool law as a cover for "truancy?" And do you think there is truancy in this case? Sounds like the mom is *probably* not doing the most amazing, perfect job of homeschooling this rebellious child given that there are other children with absence issues from public school. That being said, I'd like to know how you can mandate learning. It's my opinion that you can have perfect attendance at your public, private or home-school and be determined not to learn what's on the teacher's agenda.

Should there be "compulsory education?" You might think that an educated citizenry is essential to a good funcitoning democracy. Then we'd have to determine what would consist a good education and who would determine the ideology behind it. There always is one, you know. Does the ideology we want mean children are learning the importance of eugenics for the good of the Fatherland? Whoops, just thought I would mention that public, state-run education systems might just maybe sometimes have an agenda parents reading my blog disagree with? But onward...

Another issue that Susan brought up on the blog was the fact that there are "pushouts" out there. Pushouts are students who are encouraged to drop out, or students who face a hostile environment at school in some way and whose parents are encouraged to "homeschool" when conflict arises. Not everyone is ready to homeschool their child at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately in our country, we've accepted the mindset that it's someone else's job to educate our own children, and some of these parents fall down on the job. Some of these parents also have no support in homeschooling and/or no idea how to begin, or have special-needs children the school was doing a crummy job educating to begin with. Special-needs kids don't always show improvement one year to the next. I'm relatively sure I could pull out G's 5th grade work and his work today and not see much difference. So who decides what's good enough? Another issue with pushouts is that these tend to be older children who have already developed a terrible attitude toward learning and anything even remotely resembling schoolwork.

I know there's much talk of the No Child Left Behind holding schools "accountable" for low scores. (Hang on while I snort loudly.) This "accountability," however, does not mean that my autistic son G is going to get the BEST education possible, or that the local special ed. teacher's job is on the line if he does not do well on his fill-in-the-dots. On the contrary, it's my feeling that because we're white, suburban, and don't get a free lunch that we're going to be overlooked as not one of the important target groups of people who matter to administrator-types.

But back to the article. How's jail going to help this situation? How's the requirement that the child be enrolled in public school going to help? If it were me, I'd quietly move out of state and/or instruct ALL my children to sabotage the all-important MAP test and get EVERY. SINGLE. ANSWER. WRONG. That'll teach 'em. Oh - and another tactic would be to drop out of school on the first day the child is of legal age to do so. Then, you could homeschool at your own pace without any of those pesky state oversights, AND you get the benefit of making the school district look really bad on paper.

But I'm bad that way.

In a future post, we're going to chat about what we should make our children learn and how we measure whether it's good enough. Bless you all!


  1. Valerie has some more 'news' links here:

    Every state is going to be different, and the information was very confusing. Plus I don't know MO law for homeschoolers.
    His ps enrollment was revoked and he was forced to homeschool? Since when can ps enrollment be denied? Alternative schools have to be available per the federal law IDEA, if nothing I understand it? Especially if he was "mentally retarded", as one article said.
    The MO DoE spokesman even sounded stunned at the judge's decision to re-enroll him back in school.

    From what I saw in IL with a seemingly similar 'truant as homeschool' situation, there was a fallout after this Kim Harris conviction where the authorities went after 'legit' homeschoolers. They felt powerful (and unchecked) and pursued this until the homeschool community shut it down. (Shockingly ;-) ...with the actual law, rather than the attorney general and regional office of education's mis-interpretations.)
    I hope this doesn't happen in Missouri, but you all seemed to have a friendlier voice in the Dept of Ed than we did. ie..."hands off"

    I might be misreading this issue, but just wanted you all to have a heads up because of what happened in IL.

    I don't think jail time helps when she has kids at home. I don't think the school serves kids well that don't want to be there for whatever reason. There's no healthy alternatives. Unless parents like that empower themselves enough to believe they can take charge of their children's education. That takes time and mentoring.
    Sorry to be SO long on this. It's a big concern of mine.Thanks for blogging the issue!

  2. One cannot mandate education; one can mandate only attendance. The case of (I think it was) Peter Doe vs. the San Francisco School District is instructive -- Doe's family sued because although their son had great attendance and great grades, his standardized test skills proved he'd learned nothing of value, though he'd clearly dotted the I's and crossed the T's of public schooling. The courts found in favor of the district, ruling that the school cannot guarantee an education.

    Just thought you'd like to know.

  3. The way this was handled was not the best. This sounds like a mother who is at her wits end with an out of control child. I think that rather than make her serve jail time they should have a social worker checking her progress in home schooling and insist that she take parenting classes along with her son going to some kind of counseling.


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