theft of education crimes

Original Post: Most nights, Tanya McDowell sleeps in a minivan. Other nights, she sleeps at a shelter or at a friend's house. So when it was time for her 5-year-old son, A.J., to go to school, she wrote down her babysitter's address to sign him up for kindergarten.
Little did she know, sending A.J. to kindergarten at Brookside Elementary School in Norwalk, Connecticut could mean 20 years in jail and a $15,000 penalty for the unemployed single mom. Tanya was arrested this month and charged with first-degree larceny for allegedly "stealing her son's education." Norwalk authorities say that since A.J. doesn't live within district limits, it's illegal for him to attend kindergarten in the district - and his mom is a criminal for enrolling him there. A local activist has created a petition on Change.org, urging Norwalk officials to drop the charges and stop punishing a mother who wanted what was best for her child.
"I'm still in shock," Tanya said in an interview with the Norwalk Patch this week. "What did I do wrong? I just want the best for my kid. It's like any mom or any dad out there."
The injustice of the Williams-Bolar case set the pace. The bizarre theft of education crime is becoming popular as a way to criminalize the poor and ensure class manipulation of public services.  In Connecticut, they'd rather be done with this woman and they decided to throw the book at her.  After all, as a drug entrepreneur she is breaking the law just like all those white collar felons who brought down the financial system, though they are free to go unprosecuted.  Clearly, they come from the right schools.  And this woman hopes her child can go there.  The money spent on her criminal prosecution alone would enable this mom to get a home and enroll her child in school.

In Update on Williams-Bolar, I argue that compulsory attendance laws have skewed the funding for schools and this is one consequence of those policies. From that post:
By putting a price on the time in the seat, compulsory attendance laws wind up assigning funding on a per child basis.  And now many are pushing to allow students to move their funding: to private schools with vouchers, to charter schools, and for special education needs.  Many powerful groups frame school choice as a choice to move your child's funding to another school, just like, you guessed it, a free market.  Except this is not a market at all: it is just moving funding from school to school without much real choice for the parents and kids.  Every child is still required to attend so many days and meet so many standards and take so many tests.  Sure, in some cases, a change is good or good for awhile but in the long run and for most, since most never get to move, there still isn't any real choice involved anywhere.  So it is really a shell game when it comes to system change, real choice for families is not yet on the table.
We need to think of this issue in another way.  If we could think about real choice by parents at every school and how to make that happen, we would be getting somewhere.  Real choice would have to mean that a family could choose fewer classes or take different classes than a set roster.  It would mean  goodbye to the factory model of every child on the assembly line being filled with the same Grade A, government issue curriculum.  It would mean hello to parents and kids actually choosing what they want and schools being in the business of providing learning services for families and kids. Teachers could finally just work with kids and families and not be in charge of the assembly line. And it would mean, by definition, hello to school administrations and local boards and district managers actually focusing their bureaucratic talents and energy on what parents and kids want. 
The tide has been moving the other way now as schools are trying to bully parents and students more and more. The Williams-Bolar case is not an aberration: this is the face of mass coerced schooling today. 
The related activity of wealthy school districts upping their tax bite to ensure that their schools do not get cut is allied with this criminalization movement.  Maybe Bronxville should be means tested for access to public schools.  And shouldn't we have a higher SAT score, even another test,  necessitated by income since the SAT most accurately tests class status?  [Kohn]  Perhaps these families can also pay more for access to colleges underwritten by the taxes paid by homeless moms. These corporate salaried citizens who want to cut teacher's benefits show the class war's ugly face.  We do not need to abandon real national services, healthcare and education, to ensure elites are comfortable. Formerly, these people would have made their own schools and ensured that public schools were provided for the masses. Not today: wealthy elites want the public to underwrite their business failures as well as their perks and privileges while they roll over others uncaring.
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