Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Homeless mom sentenced to 5 years in prison for “stealing” son’s education

A mother has been arrested and sentenced to jail time for sending her five year old son to a school district where she had no permanent residence.

I can barely believe I’m having to type this sentence again. In a post just last year, I wrote about a woman in Ohio who was convicted of lying about where she lived in order to get her daughters into a better school district and was sentenced to 10 days in county jail, three years of probation, community service, and payment of up to $30,000 in back tuition she could be required to pay the school. At the time, I (morbidly) joked that I’m surprised they didn’t hit her with life in prison and tattoo “Thug Life” on her upper stomach.

Now, a year later, the same twisted logic and interpersonal and systemic racism has landed another mother in jail for the simple “crime” of wanting her child to access public education.

Tanya McDowell was living as a homeless woman when she was arrested for sending her five year old son to a school district where she- surprise- didn’t have a permanent residence. Ms. McDowell has said that she only wanted a better education for her child. Despite a change.org petition that generated over 15,600 signatures asking for the charges to be dropped against her, she was sentenced to 5 years in prison after pleading guilty.

As I’ve mentioned previously, this story really hits home for me because my own mother did this for me, driving 30 minutes each way to school and back during a tough time of transition for my family. But because my mother is white, and we weren’t homeless, or some other inexplicable reason, she didn’t have to go to jail for her crime of fiercely loving her only child.

It’s hard to believe that our tax money is being spent prosecuting the most vulnerable and impoverished members of society for daring to dream a little bit bigger for members of the next generation- if we could even call sending your child to public school “daring to dream big”. This case is just another example of the ways in which motherhood can often be celebrated in theory but villified in practice in our society, especially when that motherhood doesn’t look rich or white.

— by Lori Adelman writing for Feministing.

Originally posted February 28, 2012

Tanya McDowell

Tanya McDowell

5 comments on “Homeless mom sentenced to 5 years in prison for “stealing” son’s education

  1. Pingback: “Is This the Third Intifada?” and other Twinks… | the rasx() context

  2. Melanie Simms
    October 17, 2015

    This is heart breaking! I am so sorry. I hope someone fights for her that has money and can straighten this mess out for her.

    Like

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  4. Avril
    August 23, 2014

    This is painful to read.

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  5. fafakih
    August 22, 2014

    Reblogged this on fafakih.

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This entry was posted on August 22, 2014 by in Opinion Leaders and tagged , , , , , .

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