Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nasty bureaucrats:  TX Honor student jailed for truancy

A US honor student has been jailed for missing too much school in Texas.  Diane Tran, a 17-year-old Willis High School junior, was sentenced to spent 24 hours in jail and pay $100 in fines for excessive truancy, according to CBS Atlanta.

She had broken a Texan law that makes it a crime to miss more than 10 days of school in a six month period, reported Local TV network KHOU-11.

Judge Lanny Moriarty said that at an appearance by Tran in his Justice of the Peace court last month he warned her to stop missing school.  When she recently missed classes again, he issued a summons and had her arrested in open court when she appeared.

"In such cases, resolution of the issue is entirely in the hands of the court," a statement on the website of the Willis Independent School District read.

However, Diane is not the stereotypical truant one would expect in such a case.  She helps support two siblings with both a full time and part-time job. Her parents were divorced and she lived with the family that owns the wedding venue where she works on weekends.

"She goes from job to job from school," Devin Hill, one of Tran's classmates, told KHOU-11. "She stays up until 7:00 in the morning doing her homework."

According to KHOU-11, Tran admitted that she was often too tired to go to school.  She said she took AP Spanish, college level algebra and dual credit English and history courses.

Despite pleas for leniency, Moriarty reportedly said "a little stay in the jail for one night is not a death sentence" and claimed if one student was allowed to avoid jail then they would all "run loose."

A petition at and a website has appeared after news of the year 11 student's plight spread online.


Mississippi school district agrees to not handcuff students to objects

The Jackson, Mississippi, school district has agreed to stop shackling students to fixed objects, after it was sued for handcuffing pupils to railings and poles at a school for troubled children, officials said on Friday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center sued Jackson Public Schools in 2011 over its treatment of students at the district's Capital City Alternative School. Students at that campus have been suspended or expelled from other schools.

The center argued in its lawsuit that students at Capital City Alternative School were "handcuffed and shackled to poles" for non-criminal offenses such as violating dress code or talking back to a teacher.

U.S. District Judge Tom Lee approved a legal settlement on Friday.

Under the agreement, Jackson Public Schools will order its employees to end the practice of fixed restraints, which refers to securing a student to an immobile object with handcuffs or shackles, according to court papers.

The district will not use handcuffs on any student under 13, court papers said. In addition, handcuffs won't be used as punishment or for non-criminal conduct. The district also agreed to revise its restraint policy and document all cases in which handcuffs are used on students.


In court papers filed last year, attorneys for the school district acknowledged that "employees passing by or through the ... area can hear children calling out and asking for the handcuffs to be loosened."

The lead plaintiff in the case was described in the suit as an unidentified eighth grade student with a history of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, asthma and seizures.

On one occasion, when he was handcuffed to a pole for hours, he was forced to call out to ask to be taken to the bathroom, the lawsuit said.

Jayne Sargent, interim superintendent of Jackson Public Schools, said in a statement that her district was "delighted" it could reach a settlement.

"The children certainly will benefit the most," said Sargent, who added that the incidents that led to the lawsuit occurred before she became interim superintendent.

Jody Owens of the Southern Poverty Law Center's Mississippi office said in a statement that the settlement is a victory for Jackson public school students.

"This handcuffing policy demonstrated a punitive school culture and a broken model of school discipline that focused on criminalizing students at the expense of educating them," Owens said.

The U.S. Department of Education warned in a report this month that restraining students can, in some cases, lead to their deaths, and that the use of restraints has not been shown to reduce students' bad behavior on campuses. The department says restraints should not be used unless a child endangers himself, herself or others.

Mississippi was listed in the report as one of several states without statutes or regulations addressing the topic of student restraints. Other states in that category included Indiana, Kansas, Alabama and Arizona.


A Neglected Private Benefit of Education

Bryan Caplan

One neglected lesson of Charles Murray's Coming Apart is that, due to changing family structure, the private return to education has risen even more than it seems.  In the 60s, rates of marriage and divorce barely varied by education level.  Now, however, there is a huge gap.  Since being single is an expensive luxury, the breakdown in the family implies that the true standard of living gap between college grads, high school grads, and high school drop-outs is markedly larger than it seems.

Furthermore, because people tend to marry others with similar education levels, college grads don't just get their historically high return to education.  They can also reasonable expect to capture the historically high return to education of a well-educated spouse.

Has the family-status-adjusted return to education risen more for men or women?  It's tempting to answer, "Men, hands down."  After all, now that college-educated women are (a) far more likely to work and (b) make a lot more money, the spousal income that college-educated men can reasonable expect to capture has grown by leaps and bounds.  On second thought, however, the answer's less clear.  In the 60s, going to college had little effect on a woman's chance of raising kids without their father support.  Now college drastically reduces that risk. 

I freely admit that ability bias overstates the effect of education on family status.  But I'm confident that a big causal effect remains.  After all, when people hang out together, they're a lot more likely to date and marry.  That's the way of the world.  If you want to marry a doctor, hang out near a medical school.  If you want to marry a college grad, go to college.  After graduation, moreover, your education continues to have a big effect on who you work and socialize with.  Selfishly speaking, you should heavily weigh these effects when you make educational plans.


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