+ Reader Annotations:
Several of you appreciated last week’s article on truancy
. VIP reader Vanessa
shared how her views on Kamala Harris’s truancy policy have changed over time:
I was in law school when Kamala Harris was district attorney in San Francisco, and she came to talk at our school about her truancy program. At the time, having had no experience in public K-12 schools, I was enamored of her.
Now that I’ve spent the last eight years as a public school educator, I mostly hate the truancy law because I’ve gotten to know more intimately the circumstances of families with chronically truant students, and I’ve seen the ways schools push out Black and brown kids and make them feel unwelcome and unwanted in a million ways, large and small.
Punitive measures don’t change kids’ behaviors for good. Kids come to school when they are getting something positive out of it. And if they don’t right now feel like they can learn, we need to make them feel they’re getting a safe place where they are lived, at the very least.
We need true community schools that offer family supports for the systemic issues keeping kids out of schools. We need to support and teach kids/families/teachers to fight for systemic change, and we need to build a culture in which students and their families feel a deep sense of belonging.
My scientist alarm bells were going off as I was reading the article: Why am I reading about this unpublished work in the New Yorker and not in a peer-reviewed magazine? Why does this DePalma guy not have a PhD yet, and why did he violate a cardinal rule in science: that you do not publicize your work until after your peer reviewed work is published? The site does seem remarkable, but the sociology of all of this is also fascinating.
Thank you for your kind, thoughtful comments, Vanessa
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