Saturday, March 12, 2005


The city that we live in is sandwiched between two larger urban areas with embattled school systems, and there's a constant drive on to "catch" families from those other municipalities who are sneaking their kids into our schools. Rewards have been offered for turning out-of-town students in, whether they're using a false address or squeezing themselves into an illegal apartment. I'd never thought much about it -- if anything, considered it a sort of silly but probably fiscally necessary exercise. But yesterday, it hit close to home: A boy in my son's class was caught, and removed. The teacher told the kids he was moving, which is certainly preferable to explaining urban area vs. clinging-to-the-last-vestiges-of-suburbia politics to multiply disabled fifth-graders. But the truth was, he was in trouble for not having moved to the city he was being schooled in.

And yeah, I'm a taxpayer, and it's hard enough to meet our school budget without freeloaders barging in. The fact that this boy was a special-ed student I suppose adds to the financial burden he placed. But I also can't help feeling sorry for the boy, who is torn from his class just a few months shy of the end of school; disruptions are hard on any kid, but so much more so for kids with challenges. And I can't help feeling sorry for his family, who undoubtedly just wanted their child to be somewhere safe. We make hard choices as parents, and sometimes we make foolish ones, and ones that wind up hurting our children despite our best intentions. That's something I can empathize with for sure.

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