Arrested for taking kids to school late?!

After a woman took her children to elementary school late multiple times, she was arrested, taken to an adult detention center, and released on a $3,000 bond.

Come on, school. Seriously?

Okay, I understand the importance of having all students in a school on time. If a class gets started, it is a disruption to have late students walk in, often because the teacher is so boring that something as mundane as someone walking into the room is more exciting. The teacher has to go back to the beginning of the lesson, since the late student can’t be “left behind” – That’s 10 less minutes out of the scant 6 hours or so a day teachers have to cram standardized test answers into students’ heads. And if a student late too often, it’s going affect the school’s funding.

Being on time to school also prepares a student to pick a job they hate that starts at a time they dislike and/or that goes against their body clock. It teaches them that their time and health – both mental and physical – is not as important as their higher ups’. Getting your butt in that chair and earning money for other people is what is important – spending an extra 10 minutes with your family can’t stand in the way of that. Kids need to learn that early.

What’s interesting though is that when I got a job I was able to pick jobs that would have me working at times I wanted to work. I also had the choice to pick jobs where I set my own hours. I could even choose to not work at all, grow my own food and have automatic sprinklers water my garden. Even in college I could choose classes that started at times that I preferred – thank goodness, because I was too young to drive when I started college, and the first bus of the day wouldn’t get me there until 9. If I had no choice but to have my first class at 8, someone would have been in jail.

The only consequence I have ever had from being late to – or even choosing to take a random day off without good reason from – work is that I made a little less money. I’ve never been arrested nor even cast out into the streets to starve to death. If I want more money I work more. If I don’t care about money and would prefer to do something with my time other than earn money, I work less. When I want to learn, I can stream a recording of an MIT lecture and open a book at 9am, noon, or midnight – whatever time of day I wish to do so.

I did learn a few things from the requirement of being on time to k – 12, to be honest. I learned to forge my parents’ signature on late and absent notes. I learned that the punishment for being late was more severe than the punishment for being absent, so unless I really wanted to be in school that day for some reason, I should just go somewhere else if I was going to be late. I learned that others would be punished for my actions, that if I got caught being late or absent my parents would be punished rather than myself (what a great tool for people that *want* their parents to be punished!). I learned that my school really liked paying someone to write the late excuses; they liked it so much that they would rather I wait in line for a late or absent pass and miss even more of class, instead of just letting me go to class. I learned that making money for other people was more important than my education, time, and life.

What arresting this mother says to me is that school is scheduled jail time, and anyone found to be aiding an escaped prisoner will be arrested. Is that what we are admitting? She’s already punished for the lateness by real world consequences – because of getting the kids to school late she gets to her job late, and makes less money, or she has less time to do whatever she does while the kids are in school. She doesn’t need the school to punish her – and what gives the school the right to punish her? Are parents prisoners of the school as well?

Now I’m not saying this is all the fault of the school. The school is just doing what they have to do. Because of their flawed design, must keep a certain kind of order, and yes chronically late students disrupt this order. So, much of the fault in this situation lays with that mother – not for continuing to be late, but for failing to remove her children from that school the first moment they sought to punish her for the lateness. She should have immediately transferred them to a school that was more concerned with education than lateness, or that started at a later time, or better yet – a school where the family could set their own hours. She likely didn’t know she had those choices, though. And that ties into where the last of the fault lies – our society.

We have given the schools too much power. We have given them the power to control what parents must do with their children and when they must do it, and if a parent deviates from that we have given schools the power to arrest them. We’ve also given schools most if not all of the power to educate children, and they then do not teach children that there are options other than surrendering that same power once they themselves have children. When the alternatives are mentioned in our society, they are spoken of as unattainable and/or somehow bad or wrong.

Hopefully this occurrence will drive more people to seek out alternatives and break the cycle.

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