Another morning of seeing the 9:00am cops packing their truancy vans full of teens and carting them off to sit in cold storage for the day.

Please don’t misunderstand.  Truancy is a problem.  A big problem.  But I don’t really see these officers as doing anything about the problem.  They strike me more as just trying to fill a quota: ‘Oh, we picked up X-number of kids today.  See, we’re fighting truancy.”

After all, they’re basically shooting fish in a barrel.  They don’t go too far afield to look for kids who aren’t in school when they should be.  Instead, they set up their vans within a block or two of a school, or outside the subway entrance closest to a school, or (in the case of the cops I saw this morning) at a bus stop really close to a school.  They wait for 9:01, and then they grab every kid they see.  And let’s be honest.  If you’re a kid skipping school, it’s fairly unlikely that you’re going to be running up from the train headed right for your school building at 9:01.  It seems more likely that you’re running late for school and trying to get there.  You aren’t the kid who needs to be picked up.  Maybe scolded for sleeping late and then sent on your way, but being trucked off to sit in a room full of ‘truants’ all day seems counterproductive to say the least.

Of course, it’s much easier to nab these non-truant kids than it is to really go out looking for the kids who aren’t showing up for school.  Teens are even more notorious for sleeping late than I am, so there are always plenty of late ones to be tagged and loaded into the truancy bus.

So what would it take to inspire a real response to truancy … to organize — and fund — the kind of  outreach that might not only finds the kids who are avoiding school but also finds out what’s going on with them and looks for ways to offer them the services and supports that might bring them back to school and help them stay there?  Not exactly the job of police with vans and quotas.

I know that what I’m suggesting is harder work, that it is actual work.  I know that.  And I know that it must be someone’s work.  And yet no one seems able or willing to take it on.

12 thoughts on “Roundup

  1. What you are suggesting makes me want to donate as much money as I can to your cause. How stupid they are with this approach. Makes me crazy to hear about this.


    1. Yeah, I get so angry every time I see the vans. Anyone can see that these kids aren’t skipping school, but they make such easy picking. I’ve tried the letters-to-the-editor route, but with no success. But maybe there is a way to get an investigative reporter interested. School’s almost over, so I wonder if anyone would pick this up now …


  2. How often are people or bureaucracies looking for real answers, or solutions to problems? Too often it is all about the numbers and the bottom line; even when there are living, breathing, people (or children) involved.


    1. Your wish is my … tanka!

      a day spent on ice
      tests missed, homework will be late
      the quota is met
      one van, two van, three vans, four
      who is served by this roundup


  3. This is the most ridiculous thing ever. When you told me about this last year I just couldn’t believe it. In what universe does it make sense to make kids rushing to get to class miss a whole day of school just because they were running late.


    1. Oh, in the universe of lip service to a problem. “What do you mean we’re not addressing truancy? Last week alone we picked up 500 kids!” Of course, even if the kids in the vans were truant, how are they served by sitting in that lock-up room?


  4. Hrumph. Reminds me of the NYC programs to “fight homelessness” that involve rounding up folks on the street and putting them on buses…. ’cause if rich folk don’t see poor folk on the street, then there isn’t a problem.


  5. Pingback: May Just Posts « collecting tokens

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