Grading parents: Does this idea deserve an “F”

report cardA 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

205 comments Add your comment

David Sims

January 30th, 2011
2:37 am

change
As a reporter, I found that parents in event the poorest of schools…
to
As a reporter, I found that parents in even the poorest of schools…

About Time

January 30th, 2011
4:02 am

It’s about time that someone recognize the TRUE failure of the schools: PARENTS. In the last 20 years, the quality of teachers has increased, exponentially. Yet, the grades continue to plummet. Why do you think this is? It’s because the landscape of the HOME has changed. With marriage failure at 50+%, both parents working in the marriages that haven’t failed, and some groups having a 70% birthrate out of wedlock, there is NO WAY you can claim that the home is the same source of stability it once was. And it’s not just in the “poor” schools. I worked at one of the most affluent schools in the state, and it was the same way. Only instead of parents not paying attention to their kids because they had to work to pay rent, they instead failed their kids because they had to work so they could make the money needed to surpass the Jones’. In both cases, kids are ignored. And when kids are ignored, what do you think they’re going to do?!?! In the poorer communities, they join gangs. In the richer communities, they enjoy the parties and drugs that their affluent-based allowances avail to them. I’ve worked both places and I’ve watched it happen over and over and over for 20 years.

And, I disagree with your comment about parents coming to events, etc. In the school that I work at, I will teach 175 students this 18-week period. Do you know how many parents came to Open House? 6!!!! And let’s not make excuses for “parents who hold two jobs or who never did well in school themselves and are uncomfortable meeting with teachers and principals”. It’s time to MAN UP and stop making excuses. Most teachers hold two jobs, too, but it doesn’t keep us from attending to YOUR kids, who we see more than our OWN.

Want proof of the way the community views our schools? Remember Sonny’s Gas Vacation? People went NUTS because they had to keep their own kids for two days. Oh, the horror! And how about these snow days as of late? People couldn’t WAIT for the “babysitting service” to reconvene.

PARENTS send their kids to us hungry, tired, unsupported, from broken homes and failed marriages, with substance additions and gang affiliations and then expect us to work miracles. But what are THEY doing to help? Very little. And the ones who ARE helping are not the parents of the kids wrecking the system.

And what support do we get from those in power? NONE. You’ve got fools like Rep. Morgan trying to tie 50% of our evaluation to the performance of the students. That would be GREAT if kids wanted to learn, but MOST of them don’t. They just want the day to be over so they can go home and get on the XBOX and Facebook. Last week, I had a kid make a 17/100 on a test. When I asked the student why he failed something that we had studied in detail, his response was “I didn’t study, so I just marked answers, randomly.” HOW IS THIS MY FAULT?!?! But his lack of effort is now going to affect my livelihood. WHERE IS THE JUSTICE IN THAT?!?! While disappointing, is anyone truly surprised that the Atlanta Public Schools cheated?! While impossible to condone, no one should be aghast to see that as the outcome of a system under extreme pressure to try to improve with their hands tied behind their backs.

The root of the problem is that you can’t legislate parenting. Furthermore, no politician would dare address the REAL source of our failed school because the REAL problem VOTES. You’ll never win an election with a campaign slogan like “Parents are the reason our school suck”. So, instead, politicians come after us. They attack the people working the HARDEST to fix the problem. And the parents, who are more than willing to get the monkey of THEIR backs, just parrot the rhetoric.

So yes, the Florida idea is the best idea to come to education in a LONG time. If you look at the categories you mentioned, all of them are easily identifiable. And don’t think that teachers would not JUMP at a chance to have a say so in the REAL cause of failed schools. Until we start identifying the REAL cause of our failed education system, it is NEVER going to get any better, no matter HOW you continue to PUNISH the people doing the MOST to reverse a trend that they have NO CONTROL over.

HS Public Teacher

January 30th, 2011
4:06 am

Oh my dear Maureen –

You say that grading parents is a side show that takes away from instruction??? LOL! Your position shouts VOLUMES about how out of touch you are with the classroom of today!!

You seem to be fine with grading teachers. Somehow, that side show does not take away from instruction? Give me a break. Teachers that are “graded” will be putting on a show without care if students are learning.

Parents, however, are KNOW to be the #1 contributor on a student success. However, YOU feel that parents don’t need to be graded?

Your total IGNORANCE on EVERYTHING regarding education make a mockery of the ajc, news reporting, and education.

You really need to quit or be fired.

David Sims

January 30th, 2011
4:09 am

Maureen wrote: “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.”

Grading parents is a 2nd layer of sideshowing. The actual problem is the low average of the IQ distribution among blacks, a fact amply proved by the fact that most white-student-majority schools don’t have nearly so much trouble making satisfactorily high test scores. The focus on social causes and social interventions for poor academic performance in school systems with lots of black students is, itself, a sideshow.

I think that it may be tempting to leftists to loudly condemn 2nd-layer sideshowing as a way to show themselves alert to the propaganda method of sideshowing, because it implies that they would see and denounce ALL sideshowing. Which, of course, they don’t.

There’s nothing wrong with the curriculum. Or, anyway, improving the content and the presentation of the academic subject matter won’t improve academic performance to anywhere near the extent you want. Not even close. You’re barking up the wrong tree. The problem in black-heavy school districts is the generally lower intelligence of black students, as compared with white or Asian students.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
5:11 am

Two basic ways to raise children: One, the parent is involved early on in discussing things with their kids. Meaningul interaction, ongoine. Two: the kids basically plays with other kids for their main interaction, with the parent either being disciplinarian or not involved. Teaching these two different sets of parenting results, or lack thereof, brings these different methods into clear contrasts.
The child who has had a healthy does of adult interaction can communicate with a teacher. This communication goes in both directions. They are friendly with their peers, but when the teacher interacts with them the teacher feels like a part of their experience. They know how to negotiate and express and accept different ideas.
The children raised in latter example are very comfortable with their peers, but a teachers’ interaction is viewed as an odd intrusion into their province. They can be overly shy, non-communicative, or overtly defiant. Their demeanor frequently changes immediately when a teacher shows up. It hampers them in communicating effectively, social skills, and in being open to new ideas and experiences, which an education is supposed to provide.
It is not just overt neglect, which is of course a problem, it is a fundamental difference in the way parents parent which greatly affects the students’ chances for success dealing with an adult, in ths case the teacher in authourity, and ultimately being successful in school.

Peter Smagorinsky

January 30th, 2011
5:46 am

I do think that it’s possible to disagree with Maureen without denigrating her character or value to the Atlanta education community, which I believe is considerable.

justbrowsing

January 30th, 2011
6:05 am

It has just as much merit as grading teachers does. BOTH ideas are stupid.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
6:06 am

I taught my first three years at rough school in south of the county. Probably 90% of the kids were of the “raised by other kids” (call them ‘RBOK’)variety. Those with the experience of an authoritarian/disciplinarian parent call them: ‘RBOK-d’; those with the completely uninvolved parent ‘RBOK-u.’ Its a different approach with both sets. RBOK-d’s can be motivated by small successes. They may be uncomfortable with you as a teacher, but they want to do well, even if they act like they don’t. Its probably because they havent had much success in the past. You can reach them by being the ‘parent’ who is proud of their success. So many of the RBOK-d’s get only negative feedback and harsh criticism at home. You can improve their scores, just start with small successes.

The RBOK-u’s are more problematic. If you have a student who really doesn’t care about your approval, even for small successes that you can set up, its a problem. These students are often in gangs or cliques with an outlook that is overly influenced by a violent and demeaning cultural view determined by Def Record’s, etc. profit motives. They truly do not care about doing well or what you think of them.
The only thing that worked occasionaly was to reach out and make an accomadation with the various leaders of these groups. You agree not to hassle them, give them a pass, and they give their “permission” to those below them on the ladder to at least try to do well in your class without suffering any reprucussions. You basically need their permission and you do have some negotiating strength.
I know this may sound somewhat strange to someone who hasnt been there. But the “70out of wedlock, one parent home,” etc. is certainly all true, but this is what we have to work with. It takes a special teacher for sure, and I respect anyone who is fighting good fight in these kinds of schools. Three years was enough for me.
I now teach high achievers whose parents, although they may not be involved in school, are involved with their kids. This is more important than coming to parent night, etc. I’ll be the first to say these kinds of kids are more fun and its much less stressful to teach now.
But gains can be made with the other variety, even if exhausting and frequently discouraging. I wouldnt have minded if they tied my compensation to it, either, as long as they compared my results with the same kids results in previous years, and not with the kids I teach now. That wouldnt be fair.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
6:36 am

HS Public Teacher: if you really are one, you would realize the debt that teachers, parents, and students owe Maureen Downey and the ajc for uncovering and digging into this major scandal and widespread fraud that was so rampant and destructive to the system that you and me are a part of, and to the kids we teach. Without them, none of this CRCT fraud would have come to light.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
6:46 am

I guess Im the only one reading this, but thats OK. Of course, if youre going to grade parents you’d have to give them a ‘rubric’ ahead of time, explaining the point value given for the various tasks they will be graded on. I can see it, now. The percentage of parents who already feel teachers are the enemy will double overnight. I guess teachers will have to get certification in ‘Parenting: Skills and Evaluation’: we can have inservices like ‘Differentiating Parental Styles for the 21st Century”, and offer tutoring in the morning. Who will call in for conferences? The grandparents? Sounds like a great idea.

Tucker Guy

January 30th, 2011
7:03 am

I LOVE this idea. The parents are children’s primary teachers. At least they should be.
Keep the rubric simple.
1) 10 hours of sleep
2) breakfast, including protein
3) helping with homework, but not doing the homework for them.

Elizabeth

January 30th, 2011
7:18 am

About Time said it all and makes valid points.

To Tucker Guy’s rubric I would add 3 items:

4 Mandatory attendence at conferences and school events.
5 Responsibility to get students to school daily on time.
6. Requirement to come and remove child if behavioral issues are severe enough to disturb the classroom.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
7:31 am

Rubrics of course must in detail:

Sleep: 10 hours-5 points. Breakfast: Oats or bran: 5 pts.
8 hours-4 points. Sugary cereal: 4 pts.
6 hours-3 points. Pop tart or waffle: 3 pts.
4 hours-2 points. Egg McMuffin, etc.: 2 pts.
2 hours-1 points. Soft drink, cheese doodles: 1 pt.
0 hours-O points. None: 0 pt.

Homework: Helped, but did not actually do HW: 5 pts.
Actually did HW for student: 4 pts.(shows initiative)
Asked: “Got any homework?”, actually cared: 3 pts.
Got any homework?” continued watching TV: 2 pts
Did not ask or care about HW, but present in home: 1 pt.
Not present in home, whereabots unknown; AWOL. 0 pt.

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 30th, 2011
7:34 am

Maureen, you state that ” 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.”

I think that as a reporter, you will see a parent ONE time, and that parent is going to put their best foot forward in speaking with you. We will see these parents (or not…) and the results of their parenting, over the course of a school year. There’s a big difference between the two.

Of course parents and family members come to these events. That’s why schools pair these things with PTA meetings. It increases attendance.

I am a parent of 3 children, 1 grown and on her own, 1 away at college, and 1 in middle school. Because of my teaching career, I’m not able to go events in the daytime. You wouldn’t see me there. However, if you were to come to my home in the evening, you’d see conversations about homework. You’d see my child doing his homework and studying because that’s the expectation and he knows there are consequences if it’s not done. (At this age, he has learned that these consequences are not necessarily from mom, although that’s part of the package.) You’d see me stopping by the store to pick up a pack of paper or pencils if needed. You’d see me checking his agenda. You’d see both of us checking school/teacher websites, or going to the library for that when our internet/computer has been on the blink. You’d see me emailing teachers when I had reason to do so. And I do this even though I work a second job in order to make ends meet as a widowed mom. We’re not asking parents to do anything that we don’t do ourselves.

Not all families do this. In my 24 years of teaching, I’ve found that (generally) if a parent requests a conference, it’s really not needed about 80% of the time. The parent wants to check in, and they are doing what’s needed at home. BUT — if we, as teachers, say, “We really need to have this parent in to see if they can’t get Johnny to study, do his homework, etc.” …. most of the time this conference is going to be pointless. We’ll provide parents with a homework schedule, several strategies for getting homework done, strategies for studying, strategies for memorizing multiplication tables, our email addresses, our websites. BUT NOTHING CHANGES. I’ve seen it time and again.

I believe that welfare benefits should be tied, in part, to what parents are doing at home to help ensure their kids are as successful in school as possible. I think the three things that “Tucker Guy” mentioned would fit that bill perfectly. I would add something in there about responding to/initiating communication with teacher.

These are things that any parent, regardless of income or education level, needs to do. Most parents do this. But there are far too many who don’t.

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by joanna, Maureen Downey. Maureen Downey said: Grading parents: Does this idea deserve an “F” http://bit.ly/fueUim [...]

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
7:49 am

Ive been making light of it because the notion is so ridiculous. That is outside our scope of traing. Talk about opening a can of worms. Better have your liability insurance paid up. If they want to establish criteria for acceptable parenting, fine. Leave it to a welfare agency. We trained and paid to teach and evaluate kids, not parents. I teach whoever shows up, and if the parents with me great, if not, figure something else out.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
8:13 am

Lets figure something else out:
32 kids, five classes. 30% homework compliance. Fair? For a low performing school, not atypical.
OK, did your homework? Work on this hands on fun thing, maybe snack on some doughnut holes while you do. Nice science project, kids.
Didnt do it? Fine, sit here. Do it. Don’t worry, I have plenty of drudgery for you. Got tons of it. All you want. Try not to keep stealing glances at your classmates eating doughnuts hole who manage to do homework, working on that cool project.Finished? Good lets go over it…

Now I can either do that (if I really believe homework is vital somehow to studnt achievement, which Im not) or some variation of that…or, I can try to get 70% of 150 parents to get on board for the first time in their lives, most of them.

Its called differentiation and a realistic appraisal of resources.

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 30th, 2011
8:19 am

@IntheTrenches, very good point that we are not trained to evaluate parents. Hadn’t considered that angle. But I do think that we could provide some input via a checklist or questionnaire.

But… when all is said and done, this is all speculation. I don’t think this proposal will go anywhere.

David Sims

January 30th, 2011
8:19 am

@IntheTrenches. “…you would realize the debt that teachers, parents, and students owe Maureen Downey and the ajc for uncovering and digging into this major scandal and widespread fraud that was so rampant and destructive to the system that you and me are a part of, and to the kids we teach. Without them, none of this CRCT fraud would have come to light.”

I agree. The AJC and Maureen are doing a pretty good job of exposing the CRCT cheating scandal and some ancillary work in uncovering related fraud, waste, and abuse in Atlanta and neighboring counties. Most news organizations aren’t so laudably aggressive.

Their work would become even more valuable if they’d drop the pretenses of political correctness, though I realize that the AJC probably can’t afford to do that, since it would bring Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton running to Atlanta to bark, bark, bark, and the newspaper might lose half of its local circulation.

So I don’t really blame them for indulging PC racial equality fantasies and trying to work the scandal as if low test scores were only a matter of “some individual students who happen to be mostly blacks, just by coincidence” and as if the cheating were simply the result of “some individual school employees who happen to be mostly blacks, just by coincidence.” Capitalism wasn’t invented to serve truth. If your prime directive is making money for stockholders, advertisers, and workers, then you use the truth only when it does not conflict excessively with that purpose.

Still, the AJC has been doing better with scandals in which racial disparities are likely to be noticed than many other newspapers have. It would be nice if they’d give Lee and me a shared column in the Sunday edition, so we could take turns composing editorials sure to annoy a lot of people, but I can understand why no such offer is likely to be made.

C'mon man

January 30th, 2011
8:20 am

@about time..”In the last 20 years, the quality of teachers has increased, exponentially.” Can you please provide proof for this statement?

This is stupid idea from a pandering politician who knows how easily us teachers are played as a whole. C’mon man…

Dr. John Trotter

January 30th, 2011
8:25 am

Off the subject at hand…I see from the headlines in today’s paper that the AJC continues to push the agenda for the City of Atlanta to take over the school system. Now this will really solve everything, right?. Not. This agenda runs deep, folk. This power grab is all about power, control, and money — just as the move was about the same things in Clayton County. Just my thoughts on the matter…There was no problem with the situation in the school system as long as Beverly Hall gave the Big Mules what they wanted. It did not matter that the Hall Administration was full of incompetence and meanness. It only matters to the Big Mules when Khaatim El & Company takes over and the Big Mules’ may not be making as much money off the school system in the future. Oh…the hypocrisy at hand!

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
8:25 am

Middle Grade Math: (from Middle school science) I get idea of whats going on at home the first few days of school. When I call the roll, the students answer with what time they got to bed the night before. Amazing responses! I work on the kids understanding of how important it is, and always point out sleep deprivation when I see it in class. Some are actually trying to complete mountains of homework, but when one says the whole family was up until 2 am watching a movie..I dont know, its inconceivable, really.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
8:27 am

Trotter, honestly, no offense, but can’t you just take a break?

Nikole

January 30th, 2011
8:41 am

The parents that earn an F won’t care, that is part of the reason they would be earning an F. I don’t care about parent report cards, but I would like to see government aid tied to parental duties. You would see a cycle of poverty end for many people. For example, parents getting section 8 and EBT cards, would have their money tied to their participation in the child’s school. They would have to attend at least 1 conference each semester, their children could have no more than x number of discipline referrals, they would be require to have a working phone number at all times….things of that nature. If they break any of these rules, then they are at risk of losing their aid.

long time educator

January 30th, 2011
8:44 am

I agree with everything About Time said; well done! Also, the idea of grading parents would be counterproductive and take too much of an already overburdened teacher’s time.
I would like to think about what would happen if we stopped compulsory attendance. If the school is a valued babysitter, use that service to bargain for participation. If the parent will not help control the behavior of his child, after a certain number of infractions, he would no longer be eligible to attend. Let the natural consequences of refusing to participate academically be failing grades and retention. This was truly the norm when I went to school; you really could be expelled. This would not be good for the poor children who are not being parented, but it would help the students who are not disruptive. Leaving unmotivated and disruptive students in the classroom does not seem to help them anyway. How did the schools end up trying to solve all social problems? No wonder it seems so futile. Maybe the dissolution of families should fall under another agency’s responsibility, or perhaps the community churches. Education should be an opportunity offered to everyone, with some ifs: if you will behave and if you want to learn, or at least your parents want you to learn.

NWGA teacher

January 30th, 2011
8:51 am

Devil’s advocate: It’s difficult for parents, even for educated, involved parents. Teachers use unfamiliar terms and acronyms. They expect parents to come to conferences during work hours, which can imperil their jobs (if the parents work in the afternoons or at night, and they’re paid by the hour, they also lose money). They expect homework to be completed, regardless of whether parents read or even speak English. They expect parents to come to school events which may conflict with family time or with work hours.

Teachers don’t always do such a great job with their own children. I’m guilty of forgetting to check the parent portal, and my child has missed far too many homework assignments. She doesn’t always get to bed on time; actually, she FREQUENTLY does not get to bed on time. Because PTO has always been scheduled on the same dates at her school and mine, I’ve attended exactly two of her PTOs in the past four years. I can’t schedule conferences at the proper time at her school because I have my own conferences, although I do communicate with her teachers via email. When I have to work late or have family commitments (elderly parents), her homework may not be completed. Unless someone tells me, I have no way to know how she acts at school. For all I know, she could be a smart-mouthed monster in the classroom. I don’t want her teachers to grade me; they don’t know what goes on in our lives. Unless I choose to tell them, our home life and financial circumstance is none of their business.

What is the point of grading parents? We don’t know them, and they don’t know us. Like us, most of them deal with circumstances out of their control. Whether they’re good parents or bad parents, we still teach their children. I find it difficult to believe that grading parents will affect my own evaluations. I find it more difficult to believe that it would improve my working relationship with parents.

Oh yes, I'm the great pretender......

January 30th, 2011
8:56 am

@Maureen – 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.

Uh, what’s missing from the above, Mrs. Downey? Was this just an “accidental oversight”, lousy editing, or are you intentionally omitting something? Mrs. Downey, your support of lousy parenting is truly amazing and if you actually believe all you have written, you might be part of the problem. You should take off your “rose colored glasses” every now and then……..

Don’t be deterred, Dr. John :)

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
9:00 am

“Whats missing from the above?” I dont know, fathers and uncles, maybe? What is he talking about?

Jordan Kohanim

January 30th, 2011
9:02 am

The proposal is a gesture–nothing more. I can’t believe we are even discussing it. When will we realize that education is not about grading and scoring? I agree with “justbrowsing;” this idea has as much merit as report cards for teachers–none.

Let’s move on to something more tangible to GA education. Namely, what will happen to public schools’ promises when the RttT money runs out in a year?

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
9:09 am

You can go to Ratemyteachers.com to see a teacher ‘report card’ anytime you feel like it. Teachers do have a report card in the form of evaluations of AP’s and principals, etc. It needs to be more inclusive and not just a check off box from the county office. Evaluate CRCT scores along with it, and student and parent input, too. Why not? Is it like so confidential the public has no right to it? The problem, of course, would be the criteria they would come up with would have little or nothing to do with actual teaching. That is not so easy to evaluate as checking off a box to see if all the little i’s are dotted or not.

Georgia Teacher

January 30th, 2011
9:10 am

David Sims is 100% correct. At the school where I teach, the racial distribution is about 50/50 black/white enrollment. In the remediation classes, the enrollment is almost 100% black students. Most of the black students at our school care more about whether or not they make the football/basketball teams than whether or not they get an education. Unfortunately, many of the parents share this same point of view.

Middle Grades Math Teacher

January 30th, 2011
9:10 am

Lots of very good points here.

So, why don’t we go back to how it should be: Students are responsible for their achievement. Parents do what they are supposed to, and teachers do what they are supposed to. Students earn the grades. Not the teachers, not the parents. Period.

What's best for kids?

January 30th, 2011
9:14 am

A little history lesson: Compulsory schooling came about when the men came back from WWII with no jobs because women and teens were working. VIOLA, compulsory schooling. In the 80s, Reagan promoted “Nation at Risk” and stated that the graduation rate is too low. What happened? We lowered the standards. NCLB came around, and the teachers were at fault because the same kids who want to be working are stuck in school. We tie attendance to drivers’ licenses, work permits, and a host of other things. Bottom line: if a student doesn’t want to be there, there is nothing that we can do.
End compulsory attendance, so that the kids who want to be there can get a good education and the kids who don’t can get a job.
Remember, too, that some of the government aid for kids is tied to their attendance at school.

What's best for kids?

January 30th, 2011
9:15 am

Hear, hear, Middle grades math.

Young teacher

January 30th, 2011
9:16 am

@HSTeacher, You don’t speak for all teachers. I have no problem being graded on how my students do. I got into teaching to help kids succeed. What are you so afraid of? Are you afraid that you would be fired? If teaching is so bad and the parents are so terrible, quit. I have friends who are still looking for teaching jobs.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
9:23 am

Young Teach: Agreed. I got into teaching after another career. I think a lot of teachers are worried about being evaluated, thats all a lot of them have ever done. (Like Egon said in Ghostbusters: “You’ve never worked in the private sector. They expect results!”)
You might to have something like the auto industry in Detroit did a few years ago, massive job retraining for another line of work. Can’t just throw incompetent (or deeply racists) teachers out on the street.

Cricket

January 30th, 2011
9:25 am

Compulsory attendance laws are indeed the problem. Take away the free breakfasts and babysitting services and watch the behavior and attitudes will begin to change. In addition, the birthrate among those least willing to be responsible parents would decrease. Most of the problems we have with students would cease to exist. SIMPLE.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
9:28 am

I dont know, the kids who would drop out at 14, 15, they’ve got to be wearhoused somwhere, something like the British 1800’s workhouses, which is about the right frame of mind for that idea. Can’t having them breaking into the homes working people and boosting cars all day, can we?

About Time

January 30th, 2011
9:28 am

@ C,Mon Man: When I was in school @ 20 years, ago, Coach Fill in the blank sat be hind a desk, reading a paper during class time. He never heard the words Rubric, Differentiation, Modification, Other Heath Impaired, 504,… the list goes on. Now, kids straight out of college have been trained exponential better to deal with the multitude of variance in our society.

@Nikole: “The parents that earn an F won’t care, that is part of the reason they would be earning an F” True, but at least we’d have more realistic evidence of the why the kid is failing, rather than blaming the teacher again and again.”

@NWGA Teacher: NO EXCUSES! If teachers can’t make them, neither can the producers of our clientele.

And I don’t think it appropriate that we attack a minority community in a harsh manner. If the minority group previouslt denigrated has any major problem, it’s the number of them in single parent homes where mom (most of the time) usually does give the time to ensure success. No one is born with a substandard IQ. Those number are a reflection of environment….. which brings me back to my original point: It is the ENVIRONMENT that causes the kids problems, not the teacher.

I’ll promise you this, though. If Morgan’s bill ever passes, you will never find it more difficult to find teachers for the poorer and high minority schools of our state. Teachers KNOW what the problem is and very few will want to have their own ability to support their families tied to circumstances outside of their control. There is absolutely no justice in that.

Cricket

January 30th, 2011
9:29 am

The system rewards irresponsible reproduction and “parenting”.

About Time

January 30th, 2011
9:30 am

And I see there were some typos, but I was up until 4:00 am, grading papers. What were YOU doing at 4:00 am?

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
9:32 am

I was trying to make up a test for tomorrow in science but I got distracted by this blog.

C'mon man

January 30th, 2011
9:36 am

@about time – Wow, that is some compelling evidence, especially since no academic study backs you up, at all…

Cricket

January 30th, 2011
9:38 am

“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.”

I have taught at low income schools day in and day out for years. This is not parent participation. This is a parent SEE and be SEEN show. They also show up in droves to when little Skippy gets his perfect attendance award. You will also see little 7 year old Skippy wearing a brand-new, never washed mini-gang outfit that day. It will be complete with the latest Nike shoes and pants that are specially made to show his underwear.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
9:41 am

There actually is compelling evidence that teachers trained more recently, whether just starting out like Young Teach, or a third careerist like me, are better trained. When Cobb dismissed 600 or so of their newest teachers due to cuts, there was a huge outpouring from students and parents that these were the some of the best teachers they had. Science teachers that had established assoiciatons with Ga. Tech, things like that. Im not saying older teachers are not just as good. The ones who continued to learn and adapt and grow are just as good. But having the emphasis on a college degree other than education, and having extra education in the form of gifted certification, does make for better training.

Cricket

January 30th, 2011
9:43 am

The same day, Skippy’s homework is not turned in and his agenda book has not been seen in weeks. He has a dollar to buy an ice cream everyday but is getting a free lunch and can’t afford to pay $5 for a field day t-shirt. PTO will buy it for him.

long time educator

January 30th, 2011
9:44 am

InTheTrenches
I’m not sure ending compulsory attendance is the answer, but I want to explore it. If students are breaking into houses, the police need to arrest them. If they are young, they would be put in YDC which has a type of schooling. It is not fun, but that would be the natural consequences of breaking the law. Suffering some consequences might increase their motivation to get an education and not end up in prison as an adult. Suffering NO consequences in school hinders that child from learning how the real world works. Why is it OK for disruptive students to interfere witht the education of those who are willing to follow the rules?

About Time

January 30th, 2011
9:44 am

IntheTrenches is correct. There have been numerous studies about the increase in teacher training and effectiveness. @C’mon man: Get real, man. I’m contributing to a blog, no writing a Ed.S. thesis. If you want to see “evidence”, Google the topic.

IntheTrenches

January 30th, 2011
9:47 am

It is not OK at all, long-time-teacher. And believe me, I have my fill of spineless AP’s when it comes to discipline. Maybe the answer is expanded alternative schools that focus on job and basic literacy. It is to society’s advantage to have an at least semi-literate population that has some way of making a living.

Dick

January 30th, 2011
9:54 am

There ain’t no doubt. It is about time someone realized it is not all the teachers fault. While we may have some teachers who can’t teach, some administrators who can’t administrate, we haved some paretns who should have gone to the movies the night their child was conceived as they are not parents,