Uncommon Sense

politics and society are, unfortunately, much the same thing

Woman Dies in Jail Because She Failed to Pay a Fine—For Her Child’s Truancy From School

June 11, 2014 by Brian Doherty

Some monstrous policy out of Pennsylvania, from Associated Press via the Pottstown Mercury News, a land where there is no such thing as debtors prison for the poor unless that debt is to the government, that institution that only monsters question because after all it’s there to help the poor:

Hundreds of parents, some impoverished and overwhelmed, have been jailed in Pennsylvania for failing to pay court fines that arise from truancy hearings after their children skip school, creating what some call a “debtor’s prison” for people like Eileen DiNino.

DiNino, 55, of Reading, was found dead in a jail cell Saturday morning, hours after she surrendered to serve a 48-hour sentence.

She had racked up $2,000 in fines, fees and court costs since 1999 as the Reading School District tried to keep her children in class, most recently at a vocational high school.

Died alone in prison. Over truancy.

read full article: Woman Dies in Jail Because She Failed to Pay a Fine—For Her Child’s Truancy From School

bureaucracy, education, government, nanny state, oppression, public policy, tragedy, unintended consequences

Filed under: bureaucracy, education, government, nanny state, oppression, public policy, tragedy, unintended consequences

The Slow and Glorious Death of America’s Worst School System

June 10, 2014 by Jim Epstein

The public school system is at “Def-Con 1,” warned the mayor of Camden, New Jersey, the poorest and most dangerous city in America. In an open letter to the governor, the mayor described “horrendous conditions” in the schools, warning that the situation had “reached a critical stage.” Camden’s school system “relegates too many of our young men to criminal careers” and “lifetimes of dependency,” he wrote.

That letter was dated 1998, but it could have been written yesterday. Then-Mayor Milton Milan (his heart wasn’t entirely in the right place, as he was later jailed for corruption) complained of aging school buildings and collapsing ceilings; Camden Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard recently found that school buildings “are often in disrepair and no longer adequate as educational sites.”

Twenty-three years ago, crusading ex-Marine Gordon Sunkett stood on a six-foot platform for more than 60 consecutive hours to draw attention to out-of-control violence in Camden’s schools; on a recent listening tour, Superintendent Rouhanifard found that “half of elementary school students say they don’t feel safe going to the bathroom or walking in the hallways.” In 1998, researchers at Rowan University caused waves by reporting that 50% of Camden students dropped out of high school; last year, Camden’s dropout rate was 49%.

“Nothing ever changes in Camden,” says Derrell Bradford, the executive director of NYCAN, an education reform nonprofit. “It’s a great human tragedy.”

Camden’s school system can’t be saved—but it can disappear. Every year, more students flee the city’s dangerous and dilapidated schools for privately-run public charters that do a much better job at keeping them safe and preparing them for the workforce. In New Jersey, charters siphon money away from the traditional school system, which is one of their best features.

budget, bureaucracy, children, corruption, education, government, nanny state, public policy, reform

read full article: The Slow and Glorious Death of America’s Worst School System

Filed under: budget, bureaucracy, children, corruption, education, government, nanny state, public policy, reform

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