Thursday, August 04, 2005

Rockford can't run from truancy and Supt can't hide

The more I see of Rockford's truancy/school problem, the more it looks like a runaway train over the kids' backs. This Editorial from the Rockford paper states:
Rockford can't run from truancy

But I say that neither can the Rockford school district and Supt. Thompson
There are reasons in Rockford's past and realities in its present that account for our truancy rate being the second worst in the state and nearly four times the state average.
No Kidding! I vaguely remembered something about Rockford and a Reading issue. I looked a bit and ran into this. It's a ditty about Thompson firing a principal. Actually, correction, they don't fire people in the public school system. They moved her.

Attorneys for Tiffany Parker filed eight counts against Thompson in U.S. District Court on Thursday. Two counts relate to state and federal protection for whistle-blowers. She also charges that Thompson placed her in a false light before the public and denied her freedom of speech and due process.

So this principal was moved because she didn't fit into the correct Thompson mold. "Balanced literacy"- whatever that new cutting edge term for being able to read (or not), might be. You wonder if this is really About The Kids and making sure they can read. AND Thompson lost a grant because he wouldn't let the grant monitors investigate to make sure the requirements were fulfilled. From an April article:

Thompson told monitors to come back after making an appointment in advance. The state, which runs the Reading First grant for the federal Department of Education, says rescheduling an investigative visit is not acceptable. The state has been under increasing pressure from the federal government to improve how it monitors the grants.


Still, Thompson said he has talked with the state to improve communication. He didn’t like being told about the visit with one day’s notice.
I thought only parents were told to make an appointment and they'd try to fit them in when they want to investigate their children's education. Back to the editorial:

"We do not value education in this community the way I have seen it valued in other communities," said Martha Hayes, the Rockford School District's chief instructional officer. Hayes, the mayor and other officials presented the program to the Editorial Board last week.
Apparently but not in the same manner that she might have meant?

Hayes is relatively new to the city, but her lament about the low priority given to education here is an old and familiar one. And there are other reasons for the district's high truancy rate, Hayes said. The school system has failed to keep some students engaged well enough to make school a place they want to be.
Or since she's a newcomer, maybe she did mean what I mean about the school district's lack of accountability starting at the top.

Rockford police and city attorneys looked to other municipalities for examples of daytime curfew ordinances that seem to have been successful.
Waukegan? from another RRS article:

Waukegan operates a teen court, where students sit on juries that dole out punishments for curfew offenders. The effort hasn't kept Waukegan from leading the state in chronic truancy.
And their other model truancy program in Monrovia, CA puts the kids into juvenile court as truants. So how did the RRS editor turn to the backwards logic for city truancy enforcement by admitting that"Once young people get involved in the juvenile justice system, their chances of succeeding in life are diminished." hmmm....
IN ILLINOIS, daytime curfew is getting positive reviews in Waukegan and Round Lake.
Am I reading something wrong again or are the positive reviews from the school district who have truancy off their back, of sorts? I don't know about Round Lake but Waukegan leads the state in chronic truancy at 24.8%. A quarter of the students are truant. But this other factoid is fascinating and go figure. Waukegan's dropout rate is quoted at 4.2%. Amazing and very convenient per NCLB funding.
Very strange editorial.

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