"I have a special needs kid and my local public school served him well."
Wealthy people with special needs kids have the means to either send them to special private schools or move to rich communities with schools that can serve them well. But the story is FAR different if you're poor. At many school serving large numbers of poor kids, the attitude toward parents goes something like this:
"Your kid isn't so bright and it would require a lot of extra effort to educate him at a high level, but extra hours aren't in our contract and he probably isn't going to amount to much anyway, so we're going to stick him with the crappiest teachers at the school and not do anything extra for him."
If a school had this attitude toward parents with wealth and power, they would rightly go berserk and, thanks to their wealth and power, even a mediocre school might step up and do better. But what do you think the local school's response would be if a poor, single mother in the South Bronx goes berserk???
We don't have to wonder how the system treats poor parents – for example, a homeless single mother in Connecticut faces "up to 20 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines if convicted of the felony larceny charge." Her "crime"? Sending her 5-year-old son to school in a wealthy district…
A homeless single mother who lives in her van pleaded not guilty Wednesday to stealing nearly $16,000 worth of education for her son by enrolling the kindergartener in her baby sitter's school district.
Tanya McDowell, 33, was arraigned in Norwalk, where she was arrested April 14 on felony charges of committing and attempting to commit first-degree larceny.
Prosecutors say McDowell used her baby sitter's address to enroll her son in Norwalk schools in the fall but should have registered the boy in nearby Bridgeport, a significantly poorer urban district and the location of her last permanent address.
Officials call it the first known case of its type in Connecticut, although similar conflicts have played out elsewhere in the U.S. as districts try to ensure their scarce local tax dollars are used for local students.
"He's only 5 years old and it's hard like to explain to a 5-year-old kid, you know, 'You got kicked out because we don't have a steady address yet,'" said McDowell, an unemployed cook.
McDowell, who is black, has drawn the support of civil rights leaders and parents' groups and is being represented by a lawyer provided by the Connecticut chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. She faces up to 20 years in prison and up to $15,000 in fines if convicted of the felony larceny charge.
She said before Wednesday's arraignment that her bewildered son, A.J., repeatedly asks why he was kicked out of his school. The boy was removed from Norwalk's Brookside Elementary School in January and now lives with relatives in Bridgeport, where he attends kindergarten.
Homeless mom charged with crime for sending son to wrong district pleads not guilty in Conn.
- Article by: STEPHANIE REITZ , Associated Press
- Updated: April 27, 2011 - 2:50 PM