Mum fearful of school fines

Mum fearful of school fines

By REBECCA TODD – The Press | Friday, 26 December 2008

A Christchurch mother is angry at the prospect of having to pay heavy fines because she cannot get her son to go to school.

Under new laws passed by the National-led Government, parents of truants can be fined $300 for the first offence and $3000 for subsequent offences.

They can also be fined $3000 if they fail to enrol their child in school.

In the past, parents could be fined $150 for the first offence and $400 for subsequent offences.

Michelle Chalmers said her 14-year-old son had not been in school for much of this year, but she could not force him to attend.

“We haven’t got any control, but we are being prosecuted,” she said.

“How do you forcibly get them out of bed, into school and keep them there, and even if they are there, how do you make them learn? I just don’t understand what they want us to do.”

Chalmers put much of her son’s problems down to lead poisoning from eating flakes of house paint as a baby. He was diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) before starting school and has behavioural issues that have brought him close to expulsion.

At 14, he was diagnosed as dyslexic, but Chalmers said it was too late by then to make him want to be in school and learn.

“I was dropping him off, seeing him walk in and picking him up at the same place, only to find out later he had been bunking,” she said.

The former Aranui High School student was no longer enrolled at any school, but Chalmers had not been threatened with prosecution despite her son’s prolonged absence.

“There’s nothing I can do to stop it and it’s heartbreaking,” she said.

“I know I’m not the only one out there.”

Linwood College principal Rob Burrough said the move to heavier fines was positive, but cases needed to be looked at individually.

“Part of it is parental issues and part is student problems, so I think a $3000 fine will have some impact, but there needs to be a multi-pronged approach,” he said.

“Some parents have lost control of their children by their own admission, and so this is a burden for them.”

Linwood has been trialling anti-truancy programme Rock On, in which the Ministry of Education, police, Child, Youth and Family and truancy services work with the school and parents to get students back in school.

Canterbury police youth services co-ordinator Senior Sergeant John Robinson said police were working on their third prosecution this year for parents of truants.

“We’ll never prosecute anyone if the child is the issue, only if the parent is the issue,” he said.

Heavier fines sent a message to people that attending school was a priority.

“No parent wants to be held out there having to front up before the court and told they are not a particularly good parent because they can’t get their kids to school,” Robinson said.

“Speed” for Kids

“Speed” for Kids

Posted in Statist and Professional Trends

To demonstrate the kind of hold the school system has on parents and children, here is disturbing bit from the Sunday Star-Times of 31 March 1996. A top psychiatrist is calling for a national investigation into the amount of a drug known as “speed” being given to hyperactive children to quieten them down. John Werry, emeritus professor of psychiatry at Auckland University, said …. it was worrying that every time an overseas expert visited NZ to talk about Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) there was an upsurge in cases.

We get a whole bunch of parents knocking on our door and saying their kids have ADD and need Ritalin,” he said….”The most reason for parents coming along is because the school has complained, the child is unable to sit still on a mat and things like that,” he said.

Normal active fun-loving kids wanting to be mentally and sensory stimulated so that they can learn about their world and move toward fulfilling their God-given task of having dominion over the earth have to sit through brain-dead, non-sexist, non-confrontational, non-competitive, value-free, politically-correct activities of total irrelevance. No wonder they start climbing the walls. So experts suggest they drug the kids to keep ’em in line. We have also had parents come to us to find out about home schooling after the teachers have suggested to the parents they may want to keep their troublesome children out of school permanently. We cannot thank the Lord sufficiently for leading us to rescue our children OUT of such chaos. Please continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who are still blinded to all this and who continue to send their children to these state institutions.

School Gate Chaos

An article in Education Today of August 1996, promoting the Kidsafe Week 96 of September 7-13 as New Zealand’s first national safety week devoted to child safety, had its focus on child accidents. In NZ each year 20 child pedestrians die and a further 350 are hospitalized. “Pedestrian injuries are the biggest killer of our primary school aged children — responsible for more child deaths than all infectious diseases combined. Since many pedestrian injuries occur in and around school — often while children are being dropped off or picked up, a key focus this year is school gate chaos.” I couldn’t have coined a better phrase myself: it really sums up the whole institution, if you ask me.

But that isn’t all. “Parents delivering and collecting their children are posing an increasing problem for schools.” There you go again. ..those pesky parents getting in the way of their children’s education, this time by posing increasing safety problems for school. It seems parents involved in state schooling just can’t win. Why do they bother? They should all home school.

One of my favourite dreams is watching all the state schools close down for lack of customers!! This lack of customers would not be due to a nil birth rate, but instead to a free market in education which would allow private and home schools to flourish unhindered, their standards of excellence impossible to resist. Now that I’ve said it, you know, I don’t think the state would ever allow such a situation to occur, since they would have to protect the investment in all those taxpayer-funded schools and tax-payer-funded teaching jobs and especially all those taxpayer-funded Ministry of Education positions. To protect its own existence and their own jobs the state education bureaucrats will have to clamp down on the growth of home schooling somewhere along the line. Just watch how they use these annual reports, the supervisory allowance and the recently amended teacher registration bill over the next year or two.

From Keystone Magazine
November 1996 , Vol. II No. 6
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
Phone: (06) 357-4399
Fax: (06) 357-4389
email: craig