A friend of mine in Florida — she is a former teacher who quit last year when she couldn’t sleep and was working 15 hour days — urged me to write about the campaign in the Sunshine State to create parent report cards.
State Rep. Kelli Stargel of Florida has a bill in the works that would require Florida teachers to evaluate parents on how involved they are in their child’s education.
Here are the measures in the bill that teachers would use to rate parents: Student attendance, interactions with teachers, children’s completion of homework and readiness for tests, and children’s physical preparation for school.
Parents would receive ratings of “satisfactory,” “needs improvement,” or “unsatisfactory” on their child’s report cards.
Bills like this are largely symbolic, as even teachers would balk at the added burden of assessing not only students but their parents. (I worked in Florida for three years, and its Legislature tends to get even more carried away than ours.)
Teachers on this blog often lament that parents are the problem in education today, that parents defend their children’s bad behaviors in class rather than punish them.
(But for a parent who went too far in the other direction, please look at this wild story out of Richmond County where a mother ran over her son at an area high school. The mom and son got into an argument after the 15-year-old refused to apologize to a teacher outside the school. The mother punched her son in the face and demanded that he hand over his cell phone. The boy refused and the mom jumped into her SUV and struck him with it. His leg was injured. The mom then got out of the vehicle, grabbed her son’s cell phone and left.)
In writing this blog for the last 18 months, I’ve been surprised at the hostility toward parents. As a reporter, I found that parents in event the poorest of schools wanted their kids to do well and did what they could. I have covered daytime events at many low-income schools over the years in three different states and observed mothers, grandfathers and even aunts showing up to watch kids recite poetry or show off their science projects.
How much can we expect of parents who hold two jobs or who never did well in school themselves and are uncomfortable meeting with teachers and principals? I consider myself a pretty informed parent, but have learned that it takes a lot of fortitude and perseverance to deal with the schools.
There’s a lot of rhetoric now about holding parents accountable and grading them for their contributions to their child’s education. But is there really any way to do it? Even more importantly, is there any evidence that grading parents would improve outcomes for kids?
It seems like grading parents is a sideshow that takes away from the main issues of improving instruction, moving quickly to remediate and getting the right curriculum in place.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog