You can understand the anger and frustration behind the prosecutor’s plan, and in her defense, when all you have is a hammer (she’s a prosecutor, after all), everything looks like a jail.
Critics say this approach won't work because you can't legislate good parenting. I agree.
You can, however, incentivize it, and this is where school vouchers would work like a charm. Suppose every parent received a per-student educational voucher, but one that comes with strings.
You could not simply enroll your kid in school and walk away, as the majority of Detroit parents do now. Under a voucher system, parents would have to meet specified parental obligations to continue receiving their child’s school funding, one of which would be regular attendance at parent-teacher conferences (not just one, as Ms. Worthy suggests).
Too many parents — in Detroit and across the nation — use the public schools as free babysitters. They don’t give a hoot if their kids learn anything, just as long as the bus picks them up in the morning and the school provides breakfast and lunch. More’s the better if there’s an aftercare program, and best of all if it serves dinner before sending the kids home at night.
But suppose public education wasn’t a right, as our current administration defines it, but a privilege? One that came with responsibilities on the part of students and their parents?
Suppose irresponsible parents were held accountable not with the threat of jail time, but with the threat of paying out-of-pocket for their child’s compulsory education?
It would work, because at the end of the day, Detroit parents would do whatever it takes to assure that their child’s schooling was paid for, even if it meant showing up once in a while for a teacher conference.