Doesn’t truancy sound like a problem from a long time ago? Like getting shingles, you don’t really think of absenteeism as a problem that still really affects people. You know, rounding up truants sounds like a television cliché job for people like Cutty on the Wire.
I certainly didn’t think we still put people in jail for truancy. But apparently we do. At least, we do in Texas.
Even if the truant student has a really good excuse for missing school — like having a job — Texas will apparently still put people in jail for missing school….
The story of Diane Tran should be one of hope and triumph, but unfortunately the courts got involved. From the Huffington Post:
Diane Tran, a 17-year-old honor student in Texas, was forced to spend the night in jail last week after missing too many classes, KHOU-11′s Sherry Williams reports.
The Willis High School junior, who helps support two siblings, has both a full time and part-time job. She said that she’s often too tired to go to school.
“She goes from job to job from school,” Devin Hill, one of Tran’s classmates, told KHOU-11. “She stays up until 7:00 in the morning doing her homework.”
A law in Texas requires schools to report people who have ten or more unexcused absences in a school year:
Texas Education Code 25.0951 states that:
If a student fails to attend school without excuse on ten or more days or parts of days within a six-month period in the same school year, the District shall within ten school days of the student’s tenth absence:
1. File a complaint against the student or the student’s parent or both in a county, justice, or municipal court for an offense under Education Code 25.093 or 25.094, as appropriate, or refer the student to a juvenile court in a county with a population of less than 100,000; or
2. Refer the student to a juvenile court for conduct indicating a need for supervision under Family Code 51.03(b)(2).
Shouldn’t having zero parents and two jobs count as an “excuse” from time to time?
When Tran does show up at school, she’s an honor student. But that didn’t stop a family court judge from throwing her in jail for a day for her school absences.
Various online collections have sprung up to raise money for Tran so she doesn’t have to miss school.
And that, my friends, is why America is struggling to compete in the global economy. Here we have a student who is working two jobs and doing well in school. She’s making it happen. She’s not asking for a handout — instead, she’s doing what she has to do to get ahead. And instead of applauding her, we’ve got a stupid rule that says she has to go to jail. And then, instead of changing the stupid rule, people are trying to just give her money — MONEY SHE WAS WILLING TO WORK FOR! I’m not saying that we shouldn’t help high school students who are trying to support their siblings. I’m saying that we should also let them help themselves.
But now, instead of helping her work, we’re going to help her not work and preserve the stupid, rigid law that managed to trap a human judge in a paper bag.
Great system we’ve got here.