Scott Wagner, a councilman with the city of Kansas City, Missouri, has proposed the imposition of a daytime curfew. Extending from just after school begins, to shortly prior to classes being dismissed, students between the ages of 7 and 16 would be subject to the new restrictions. From the report by KCTV 5, such persons found “in a public area without an adult present would be taken into police custody.”
According to the story, Councilman Wagner believes it is “important that [children] not be at risk to either commit a crime or be a victim of a crime.” In this guy’s head it’s apparently ok to arrest children ex ante, because it’s possible they might commit a crime, and that being kidnapped by a police officer, in violation of the 4th amendment, isn’t itself a crime.
At least one school official, a principal from Ruskin High School, favors the proposed ordinance, saying it would help curb truancy. And that’s where the issue lies. The fact that it may be necessary to have the police round up kids and haul them off to school in order to ensure attendance is a harsh indictment of the government school system.
Forcing a child to attend a government program is a gross enough violation of one’s rights, but establishing curfews and enforcing them with an armed police force is worse still. It’s clear that children see little to no value in attending school anyway, otherwise it’s reasonable to assume they wouldn’t be skipping class. Rather than forcing them to attend or face arrest, thereby placing blame on the student or parents, the government schools ought to be held responsible for their poor attendance rates.
As it stands, parents have little to no control, and students have even less, when it comes to determining the subjects taught, the methods used, or the environment in which “learning” takes place. But despite these facts, it is invariably the parents who are expected to motivate their children to participate in the system. When failing grades are an issue, as they were when the Kansas City School District lost its accreditation last year, many pointed to the parents, saying they needed to push their kids to do better.
Under the proposal, children picked up by the police would either be taken home or to a school. In the event no adult were available, the kids would be “held in a secure area.” Parents would then have to pick-up the child. There is to be no penalty for the first offense, but subsequent violations will result in $100 fines imposed on the parent. Where this money ultimately goes is never specified.
If any of it finds its way into the police departments or schools, or if simply having a child delivered to a school results in any monetary payment to the school, then a conflict of interest exists. Amendments to the Mondale Act of 1974 require the federal government to pay state Child Protective Service (CPS) agencies for every child removed from parents. As Rick Fisk has written, these laws “have essentially put a bounty on the heads of all of our children.” Just like civil asset forfeiture provides a perverse incentive for police departments to seize private property, police and school officials could stand to profit from similar programs.
It’s absolutely ridiculous for the government to systematically undermine the authority of the parents in the education process, while simultaneously holding them responsible for the outcomes. Even more absurd is piling on more legislation in an attempt to solve failures the government itself created to begin with. Children should be set free from the state’s control and parents should once again have responsibility to care for them.