Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Earn Good Grades, Hold Down Two Jobs, Get Thrown in Jail

America's government schools and courts don't always cooperate to punish good students. In this case, though, I can see why a judge wanted to make an example of this 'criminal.'

Honor Student: A Threat to the System

I suppose Judge Lanny Moriarty is just doing his job, protecting the citizens of Houston, Texas, from an 11th-grade honor student. Her behavior is, arguably, a threat to America's education establishment.

This honor student showed shocking lack of respect for America's government schools. She skipped classes! Deliberately!

Her excuse is that, in addition to earning remarkably good grades - she has two jobs, earning money to support herself and her two brothers.

In a way, I can see Judge Moriarty's point. If he lets one student hold down two jobs to support a family, while still earning the grades it takes to be an honor student: other students in Houston might start viewing academic achievement and economic responsibility as acceptable traits.

If anti-establishment ideas like that spread: there's no telling what might happen.

The Establishment Ain't What it Used to Be

In my youth, 'the establishment' was almost entirely white, male, conservative, and seemingly obsessed by fear of commies and rock music. That was then, this is now, and the establishment has changed. A lot.

There's going to be an 'establishment:' folks with the position and power to decide what sort of rules the rest of us follow, and how those rules are enforced. I don't have a problem with that. What aggravates me is when folks in 'the establishment' seem to have lost touch with what the rest of us think is important. (September 15, 2011, January 26, 2010)

Honor Student Jailed for Supporting Family

Like I said, I can almost see Judge Moriarty's point. This honor student's behavior, if unpunished, might encourage other students to get good grades while holding down jobs.

Left unchecked, that sort of energy, responsibility, and achievement, might undermine dependence on the establishment.

"Group raises more than $70G for Texas honor student jailed for truancy"
Cristina Corbin, FoxNews.com (May 30, 2012)

"A Louisiana group has raised more than $70,000 for a 17-year-old Texas honor student jailed for missing too much school because she worked two jobs to support her siblings.

"Diane Tran, an 11th-grade honor student at Willis High School near Houston, was sent to jail for 24 hours last week by Judge Lanny Moriarty and ordered to pay a $100 fine for excessive truancy.

"...Judge Moriarty told KHOU 11 News that he intended to make an example of Tran by placing her in jail.

" 'If you let one run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them? Let them go, too?' Moriarty told the station...."
I put a longer excerpt from that article at the end of this post.1

Home Schooling isn't For Everyone

My wife and I have home schooled our kids for seventh through 12th grades. It worked for us, and worked very well.

Not everybody is in our position, though. Diane Tran's parents separated, her mother moved away: and apparently she's the one left with the ability and responsibility of supporting herself and her siblings.

It isn't an ideal situation, but I don't think throwing her in jail will improve Diane Tran's domestic situation.

There's quite a lot going on here: judicial foolishness; family problems; and economic issues. I think those are serious issues.

I'm going to focus on America's government schools, and a sane alternative.

Home Schooling Can Work For Many

My wife and I had to deal with a school administration that, understandably, didn't want us to deprive the system of warm bodies. School funding is based on enrollment, and fewer bodies means that the school administrator gets less money from the state.

My wife and I researched what State of Minnesota regulations actually said, filled out the forms that were needed, ignored the rest, and went ahead with teaching our kids.

The 'teaching' part isn't as hard as it may sound. Maybe this list will answer some questions:
  • Does a home schooling family have to
    • Build a classroom?
      • No
    • Run the student(s) between rooms at 50-minute intervals?
      • No
  • Home schooling is only for
    • Geniuses
      • No
    • People who hate science
      • No
I've posted about home schooling, what it really is, and some of the weird ideas about it, before.

Related posts:
Background (from September 17, 2011):

1 Excerpt from the news:
"Group raises more than $70G for Texas honor student jailed for truancy"
Cristina Corbin, FoxNews.com (May 30, 2012)

"A Louisiana group has raised more than $70,000 for a 17-year-old Texas honor student jailed for missing too much school because she worked two jobs to support her siblings.

"Diane Tran, an 11th-grade honor student at Willis High School near Houston, was sent to jail for 24 hours last week by Judge Lanny Moriarty and ordered to pay a $100 fine for excessive truancy.

"It's unclear how many days Tran missed, but state law reportedly permits only 10 absences in a six-month period.

"Tran, who works full-time at a dry-cleaning business and part-time for a wedding planner, has been supporting her brother and sister since her parents separated and her mother moved away.

"Houston Councilman Al Hoang and others have roundly criticized the judge, saying he should have used some discretion in the honor student's case....

"...Since the girl's story went viral, hundreds of people have rallied to raise money for the teen, including one group, Louisiana Children's Education Alliance, which said Wednesday it had raised more than $70,000 for Tran.

"The group, which created a website called HelpDianeTran.com, has received donations from 47 states and 13 foreign countries for the girl.

" 'I think this story of a student who's obviously working so hard and is being taken advantage of by the system just touches your heart strings and it affects a lot of people, the group's president, Charlie Davis, said Wednesday in an interview with Fox News.

" 'I think Diane unfortunately is at the center of two failed systems in America -- our public education system and our judicial system,' he said. ...

"...Judge Moriarty told KHOU 11 News that he intended to make an example of Tran by placing her in jail.

" 'If you let one run loose, what are you going to do with the rest of them? Let them go, too?' Moriarty told the station...."

2 comments:

Brigid said...

You can get sent to *jail* for skipping class?? I thought the most they could do was give you suspension, or detention, or remove you from the list of possible valedictorians.

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

It does seem excessive.

The judge explained the jail time as a means of preventing other students from following the honor student's example. It does seem that he managed to draw attention to his level of commitment.

It's possible, although I think unlikely, that there's more to the honor student's behavior. I think it's more likely that the judge's explanation for his weird behavior is accurate: he saw a 'criminal,' and decided to make an example of the 'scofflaw.'

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