You Know That There is Something Wrong with the Education System if?

Icon PublicEducationYou’re willing to risk going to jail in order to send your child to a better school.

A national story out of Ohio that broke earlier this week has the internet and talk radio buzzing about just how desperate some parents are to find their children a better education.

An Ohio mother was convicted of lying about her residency to get her daughters into a better school district and sentenced to 10 days in jail.

Copley-Fairlawn School District officials said she was cheating because her daughters received a quality education without paying taxes to fund it. “Those dollars need to stay home with our students,” school district officials said.

While this may be the first case of a parent actually being jailed for taking this type of drastic action, it is not a situation that is unique to Ohio.  In November of last year, the Patriot News ran a story about how the Central Dauphin School District in suburban Harrisburg was cracking down on students illegally attending school in the district.

The article outlines several parents who reside in Harrisburg who had fraudulently enrolled their children in Central Dauphin schools.  Thankfully none of the parents faced actual jail time, but all were charged and ordered to pay back tuition.

Here is one of the parents stories:

Latoni Crowder of Harrisburg was found guilty Nov. 8 and ordered to pay $1,359 in restitution for illegally enrolling her 14-year-old daughter for 23 days, according to court documents.

Crowder, located through the cousin whose address she used to keep her daughter in Central Dauphin East Middle School, said she knows she was wrong but felt trapped.

After 16 years of steady work as a licensed practical nurse, Crowder lost her job at the Spring Creek Rehabilitation Center in August 2009. Despite submitting applications at numerous personal care and home care facilities, she’s had no luck landing a job, she said. With four children to support, she said unemployment benefits didn’t cover the $1,150-a-month rent on her apartment in the Central Dauphin district.

She searched in vain for affordable housing in the district but could find places only in Harrisburg.

She and her daughter, a distinguished honor roll student, worried about what awaited the 14-year-old in the Harrisburg district, Crowder said. After the girl was refused a spot as a tuition student at Central Dauphin – the district, Crowder said, told her it didn’t offer that – Crowder said she did what she thought was best to preserve her daughter’s opportunities and began using the cousin’s address.

While I do not condone any sort of illegal activity, it is telling to me that some parents are willing to risk criminal prosecution in order to get their children out of a failing school.

There is something inherently wrong with our current government-run, zip code based school system if it is creating groups of educational haves and have nots based solely the address of the parent.

That is why the introduction of SB 1 is so important to the educational futures of tens of thousands of students who a being forced to attend a school that is failing to prepare them for a successful future simply because of their parent’s address. 

What is the response of those organizations that represent the current educational system? 

When asked on Smart Talk about parents being trapped in failing schools seeking a way out and the Central Dauphin cases, Tim Allwein, Pennsylvania School Boards Association assistant executive director said, “They are enrolling the student under false premises.  And if they want to go to Central Dauphin, then why don’t they move to Central Dauphin.” 

Ms. Crowder clearly wanted her daughter to go to Central Dauphin, but could not afford to live in Central Dauphin any longer and had to move. 

As I pointed out in a previous post, the only parents who are able to exert any kind of control within the current government-run, zip-code based school system that the PSBA represents are those with enough financial resources to be able to choose which school district to live in by either buying a house or renting an apartment.

Our current educational system needs to stop treating parents without the economic means to live in higher quality school districts like modern-day lepers – relegated to out of sight schools where they are trapped with little chance of receiving a true chance of success. 

Giving parents the ability and means to find a school that will best fit their children’s unique educational needs, through expanding school choice options, is the only way that we will give all children an equal chance at educational success.