Friday, July 13, 2012

Testimony About Truancy in DCPS

Today, I read an article in the Washington Examiner that the Washington, D.C. Public School system (DCPS) will start referring the parents of frequently truant students to child-protective services.  In reading about this, I could not help but think back to my elementary school days at Washington Highland  (now Ferebee-Hope) Elementary in southeast Washington, D.C.  Back then, I don't think my case would've been referred to as "frequent," but I definitely spent time "ducking the paddy wagon" as we used to say.  In 1978, it seemed like a part of growing up in DC.  Unlike today, the school system didn't have the automated service that would call your home when a student was absent, and if they did there was no answering machine and definitely not a voice-mail.  African American single parents like my mother depended on older siblings to keep the rest of the children in "check" because she was working full time at the hospital. There were also times that she would work the night shift, so we had lots of opportunity to sneak, duck, and dodge.

Well, eventually I was sent away to live with relatives in another state because my parents felt that I would have a better chance for a quality education.  As I look back, it definitely paid off.  I eventually graduated high school, served in the military, and attended college. As for some of today's parents who are also facing insurmountable challenges in raising today's children, there is really no place to send their children.  Unlike, yesteryear, there is no truly safe haven in the United States for parents to shield their children from trouble.  In other words, trouble is pretty wide spread in comparison to 1978-79.  Today's small towns like the one I was sent to in North Carolina is a different place today.  This is due largely to unemployment, drugs and a receding of societal and community values.

Therefore, I feel that this new effort to control truancy is commendable; I get the point -- local government is trying to make parents more responsible for their children.  This will address the a problem that exist in DCPS among mostly African American families.  As widely known around the DC metro area, there are little to no white working-class families in Washington, D.C.  It is for the African American families who still remain in a city that is quickly losing its black and brown population.  

It is It is also commendable that DCPS is putting other assistance in place besides the child-protective services in order to monitor the problem and refer the parents to someone who can help with their truant child.  I truly hope that their efforts will not back fire and cause more problems. Otherwise, I pray that the same grace from God will protect those families as I was protected.  Today, I am a teacher; I teach young adults at a local college.  Now, I know that I am not lucky but blessed.  I pray those same blessings for the children of DCPS.

Source:  Washington Examiner article
Photo:  Gibbs Elementary School, Washington, D.C.


neena maiya (guyana gyal) said...

Many children here duck school too, for all kinds of reasons...but mostly because a lot of parents don't understand the purpose of education.

The Ministry of Education really tries to get the children going, there are truant officers who look into their home lives...but some children get away.

I wish there were free adult education programmes throughout my country also.

Stephen A. Bess said...

GG, I thank God that he got through all of my nonsense back then. Always a pleasure to see you around these parts. :)

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