Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Thank Goodness for Mothers

Author, Crystal Young

Crystal is a Gretna Resident and Mother of 10. She was present at the County Board of Commissioners meeting on November 15th, 2011 and responds to comments made by Commissioner Chris Rogers. 

Commissioner Chris Rogers voiced a belief held by many, that keeping children in school keeps them out of jail, builds literacy, and deters adult criminal activity.

I humbly disagree, as a mother of ten children I believe that school is the most dangerous place I send my children. They often report the sale and use of drugs. Arrests and suspensions of drug users in the student body have occurred at least twice in the last eight weeks. They often hear conversations such as, "Where do you get your weed?" "Where is the next party?" Students are often comparing notes on how much and how often they use weed. 

I doubt that these conversations take place any less often in East Omaha than in Gretna, or Millard. Illegal drug use is rampant on any of these campuses. For this reason, I have occasionally allowed my children a day off when the peer pressure became too overbearing or simply uncomfortable to listen to. I believe that every once in a while children need to stay home where they are safe from a vulgar, taunting and immoral society that slips into immoral and illegal activity regularly.

On an academic front, proponents of the "truancy legislation" say it promotes literacy and furthers educational opportunities. Often the school is the main obstacle in preventing a child from reading or doing well. Here are two cases to illustrate.

True story: A mother became aware that her daughter did not know her times tables half way through her third grade year. Shocked and disappointed, Mom arranged to keep the daughter home from school to teach the multiplication tables. If the schools were failing, she would do the job even if it meant missing school. So for 10 days (the maximum allowed in the State of Wyoming) the daughter missed school. She rapidly learned all the times tables, jumped back into school with great confidence and rose to the top of the class.

True story number two: During the second grade year, Mom became aware that her child was not learning to read at a pace she thought the child capable. The school tried to placate Mom by telling her "Not all children will be as smart as your first children. She is just not as able." Since the child’s confidence and self esteem were being negatively impacted, Mom withdrew her daughter from school for two weeks. During those two weeks they studied at home. Confidence and ability soared. Upon re-entry in the school system, the child quickly excelled commanding a grade point average and ACT score that allowed her admission to Harvard where she graduated with full Honors. Would the outcome have been the same if allowed to struggle and be placed on an arbitrary academic path far below her capacity, I doubt it. Thank goodness for mothers.

I work with three children in East Omaha schools. The mother is most of the time unemployed and barely literate. The children ages 12, 11, and 9 are barely literate, reading at least two grades below grade level. You might think that it is for this family that we have created this law, that if these state agencies could just intervene and get this family "services" they could be helped. I believe that this family would run if faced with Social Workers and Judges with connections to the County Attorney. This is just the wrong approach and instills fear. This truancy legislation is a highly confrontational approach to curbing illegal behavior and promoting greater literacy, and will most likely fail those it is designed to help, and cause harm in families who should be left alone.

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