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Is There Mercy in Our Justice System?

There just might be some mercy for Kelley Williams-Bolar, a mom from Akron, Ohio who was jailed recently for falsifying records in order to send her children to a better school.  Ohio governor John Kasich issued a statement on Tuesday stating that his legal team is looking into the matter because the case really “struck” him. 

He said, “Our laws exist for a reason and they must be enforced, but the idea that a woman would become a convicted felon for wanting a better future for her children is something that has rightly raised a lot of concern with people, including me.”

Williams-Bolar received a felony conviction for using her dad’s address to enroll her daughters in a school in a safer neighborhood, a school with higher academic standards.  Lauren at Parenting wrote an excellent post about the story over at Show and Tell and is rallying with ColorofChange to have the felony cleared from her record.  Williams-Bolar was studying to become a teacher herself and the felony conviction could make it impossible for her to pursue her career.

She broke the law.  This is true.  I’ve never broken that particular law.  But then, I’ve never been where she is.  I’m not sure what I’d do in her situation. 

You can find more details on exactly how she violated the law on other sites.  To me, the real question is not whether or not she should be punished for committing a crime.  The real question is – Should anyone in the United States of America feel so desperate about the state of their children’s educational options that they feel they need to resort to falsifying records in order to keep them safe and successful?  Williams-Bolar wasn't the only one from her district to fudge records to avoid placement in local schools. 

I find it sad that anyone can legally say, “You don’t make enough money or pay enough taxes for your child to go to a good school.”  Public education should be free, fair and equal.  It is a government program that should be given to all regardless of race, gender, or socioeconomic background. 

Now ask me how we wave a magic wand and make this a reality.  I wish I had an answer for you.

In a recent blog post about encouraging more Black and Hispanic men to join the teaching profession, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “President Obama and I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation. It is the one factor that can prevent a person’s zip code from determining his or her destiny.”

Now if only a woman can find a legal way to escape the educational reality of her zip code, we’ll be in good shape.

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Kathryn Thompson is a mom to two school-aged kids, a toddler, and a deceased betta fish. She can also be found at The Parenting Post, and occasionally the gym.