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Eliminating Truancy, or Indoctrinating Kids?

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Lack of trust.

Scrutiny.

Excessive punishment.

Things that annoy youths. Things that motivate youths to rebel and stand out. One of those forms of rebellion is skipping school, of course.

I'm not old enough to know what the punishment for playing hooky from school back in the day was, but I'm assuming it wasn't as stiff as it is today. I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong there. In Texas where I spent my last two years in high school, if you had enough unexcused absences you would be reported to a truancy officer, who could in turn send you to court and have you fined. The fine, in turn, would motivate the truant student to stay in school.

Or, just drop out at 16.

The AIM (Attendance Improvement Program) Program is designed to positively reinforce kids in a way that will keep them in school. According to their website, their main goals for these miscreants are as follows:
* Take responsibility for their actions
* Build relationships with their parents, schools, and peers
* See the benefits of making good choices
* Sustain behavioral changes following the AIM program

Basically, force them into the indoctrination center these kids are striving to escape in the first place and turn them into respectful, like-minded robots. They also use being overbearing as a method of structure, forcing their persuasive ways on these delinquents SIX to EIGHT times DAILY. Doesn't sound unlike many "bad kid" programs does it? Sounds more like a detention center to me.

It's actually more like visiting your parole officer, if you read further.

Taking a quick look at the technology they use, I slowly began to realize that these people don't screw around. According to their explanations of the technology they use:

AIM's unique hand-held GPS/Cellular device complements the program's structure and coaching to:

* Locate students in real-time via the internet
* Serve as a constant reminder to observe program boundaries
* Provide students an excuse to "opt out" of negative peer pressure

gps
Stay in school kids, or they might slap one of these bad boys on you - a GPS monitoring device.
aimforattendance.org

That's right folks. They slap a GPS on your kid and give them the stigma of a common criminal. Congratulations! Your kid is now essentially in the custody of a program that strives to turn Junior around and make him into the respectful, reserved kid that schools love.

Or, they could just drop out at 16.

AIM boasts that they have a 97 percent success rate according to attendance. They leave out grade scores though. Which brings me to my point - forcing your kid to attend school doesn't mean they're going to strive to do well. If anything, they're going to resist anything they're told in defiance of the system.

In the case of Texas, anything below 70 percent is a failing grade. You have to pass a state-regulated test, regardless of GPA, to graduate. To give you an idea of the possible difficulty of the test, valedictorians haven't been able to walk with their class because they bombed the test. They're just begging kids to drop out with these requirements in the first place. It's no wonder Texas has one of the highest drop out rates in the nation.

There's plenty of motivation for a kid to stay in school - such as parents threats to kick them out, a lifetime of unsavory, low paying jobs, etc. However, once a kid falls behind and finds it impossible to catch up, the idea becomes more than appealing to them. Forcing a kid to be there isn't going to make him any more likely to succeed.

And a GPS? Way to raise the kid's self esteem! Treating them as a criminal - I'm sure that makes them so proud to be a member of this society. Who knows, maybe ankle bracelets will become a trend and all the kids will want one? Idiots. You aren't motivating them, you're angering them. As if there's anything they can do about it. Oh yeah! They could drop out. They could find the tethers of this program overbearing and take more drastic means to avoid school.

How about you mentor these kids without your little tracking devices? Is that so implausible? You show me a kid who is willing to wear one of these chains, and I'll show you a 19 year old writer packing his bags for Canada. Oh, that's right, they're forced upon them. Ah well, maybe they'll end up in jail like you expect them to because they don't want to partake in mainstream public school. Or, they'll become a productive member of society. Yeah, like THAT could happen.

All sarcasm aside, this is a bonehead move by a bonehead judge. If the kids are refusing to attend school because they want to hang around drug gangs and perform other unsavory acts that are detrimental to society, that's wrong. They could end up in jail and earn their tracking device the old fashioned way. That's the first notion to a judge or authority figure.

Is it so impossible that a kid just wants to resist the tethers of public school? That they want to eliminate the condescension of teachers, principals and fellow peers from their lives? Let the kid choose. If he becomes a loser, you can tell everyone "I told you so."

However, if they succeed, the school can't weasel its' way into the retrospective of their lives and take credit for molding them into what they became. Students are just numbers, anyway. The more kids you can cram into your school, the more money the school gets. The students who realize this either drudge their way through school, or resist and drop out. I say leave the choice up to them - don't slap a GPS on them.

Treating a truant student like a convict is not the way to motivate them. Period. Some of them you can't save; you need to just let them make their decision and accept the resulting consequence.

Or, the resulting success.

John Danz Jr. is a work in progress, who enjoys the freedom of writing. Contact him at undertakerlives@gmail.com.

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