“Legislation: Teachers should grade parents”

Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post weighed in today on the crazy proposal in Florida to have teachers grade parents of their students.

Here’s a great excerpt from her piece, titled Legislation: Teachers should grade parents:

Requiring teachers to grade parents is a nutty idea. Some parents work two or three jobs and can’t be as involved as they would like to be, and, besides, teachers have enough to do already.

Even if it were possible to set up a reasonable parent evaluation system, there could be no real enforcement mechanism, at least not in traditional public schools. Private schools, and even public charter schools, quietly counsel kids out for bad academic performance; traditional public schools can’t.

Now that Stargel has shown that she accepts the fact that home life has a major impact on academic performance, she and her colleagues should now ask themselves just how hypocritical it would be to keep pushing “value-added” assessment of teachers.

Rahm Emanuel’s “Transactional” Perspective On Parent Involvement/Engagement

As most readers know, Rahm Emanuel is favored to become the next Mayor of Chicago, where there is mayoral control of public schools.

In his response to the question “Please explain how you would encourage more parental involvement in the public schools. Do you support tying parental involvement to school funding or what schools should remain open?” he said he wanted a parent “trigger,” parents should sign contracts with teachers saying what they are going to do to support their children’s learning, and give parents report cards on individual schools.

It’s all “transactional,” looking at punishment, rewards, demands (see Being ‘Transactional’ Versus Being ‘Transformational’ in Schools). None of it is “transformational.”

How about finding resources to support teachers making home visits to parents of their students to get to know them? How about directing city resources so that schools could provide supportive social services to families, like they do in the Harlem Children’s Zone? How about encouraging schools to connect with other local neighborhood institutions to identify and respond to broader community problems (safety, affordable housing, etc.) that affect family’s lives and student learning?

Why am I not holding my breath?

Parent Academies In Toronto

It sounds like they’re trying to do a decent job setting-up parent academies in Toronto, unlike in many other places (see Some Of These “Parent Academies” Just Don’t Get It….).

Here’s a quote from the Toronto article:

“For parent academies to be successful they really have to function based on parent voice, so parents tell us what they want to learn and we invent an adult learning model to support that request,” Jim Spyropoulos, a TDSB superintendent overseeing the academies, says.

I just wish it didn’t sound so “social worky” and they were thinking in terms of parents having more of a voice in running the academies, too. That may be the case, but it is not the impression given by the article.

Parent Involvement & The State Of The Union Speech

Valerie Strauss at the Washington Post makes an important point in her analysis of President Obama’s State of the Union address. Here’s an excerpt from her column, titled Obama’s faulty education logic: What he said and failed to say:

Obama rightly said that a child’s education starts at home:

“It’s family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done.”

Then why is his administration insisting in pushing policies that evaluate and pay teachers based solely on how well they raise the test scores of their children? How can teachers be solely responsible for what happens to a child outside of school?

Obama spoke about the $4.3 billion Race to the Top competition launched by his Education Department.

“Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning.“

Well, not actually.

For one thing, if parent involvement were so important to the administration, you would think it would have been part of “the most meaningful reform” in a generation. It wasn’t.

I Don’t Think Having Police Fine Elementary Students For Leaving Class Early Is Going To Enhance Parent/School Relationships

I initially heard about this on Richard Byrne’s blog, but was so incredulous I had to do a little more investigating.

It’s true — Texas school districts are having misdemeanor tickets with fines up to $500 being issued to students as young as…six years old. Offenses including leaving class early and using profanity. See a news video about it here, and read more here.

Listen, I understand that some severe student offenses require law enforcement action. But this seems to be going over the line…to say the least. And I don’t think this kind of practice is going to do anything to enhance the parent/school relationship….

My Most Popular Posts On Parent Engagement This Quarter

I use PostRank to determine the most popular posts from my blog, Engaging Parents In School, and post a list every quarter. This quarter, PostRank is acting a little strange, so I’m just going to use the number of “hits” on posts to determine this quarter’s ranking.

You might also be interested in these collections:

My Best Parent Engagement Posts

My Most Popular Parent Engagement Posts

I also have these links on the sidebar of my engaging parents blog.

Here are My Most Popular Posts On Parent Engagement This Quarter:

1. What Parent Engagement Posts Did Readers Find Most “Engaging” This Quarter?

2. The Power Of A Positive Phone Call Home

3. Parent Trigger Supporters Attack PTA, Compare Schools To Batterers

4. What Do Parents Want?

5. Teachers Have Got To Stop Blaming Parents

6. My Best Posts On Building Parent Engagement In Schools — 2010

7. “Adults blame parents for education problems” (Interesting Poll, But Can We Stop The Blame Game?)

8. Bill Proposed To Grade Parents — What’s In Florida’s Drinking Water?

9. Parent “Trigger” Is Parent “Involvement” At Its Worst

10. What Is With All These Proposed Punitive Measures Against Parents?

Hope you find them useful!

What Is With All These Proposed Punitive Measures Against Parents?

Yesterday, I posted about a Florida legislator’s proposal to have teachers grade parents. Late last year, I wrote about a Michigan prosecutors plan to jail parents who didn’t attend parent-teacher conferences.

Now, an Indiana legislator wants parents to perform community service if their child misbehaves in school, apparently targeting instances of bullying.

I’ll admit that punishment can sometimes be effective for some people in some circumstances. But, as most teachers know. punishment generally just teaches the perpetrator to be more careful about being caught the next time. On top of that piece of common sense, punishing parents is just a simplistic approach to a complex problem.

How about if, instead of lashing out at parents, we encourage schools, and provide them the resources they need, to put more energy into genuine parent engagement, including providing supportive family services?

Historian and author Diane Ravitch sent two tweets in response to this post that carried a lot of wisdom. “This is in the context of let’s just punish someone: Punish teacher, fire principals, close schools, punish parents. Nuts” she wrote, “To the corporate reform movement, accountability = punishment. Now they turn to parents. But teachers are still at risk.”

Bill Proposed To Grade Parents — What’s In Florida’s Drinking Water?

A legislator in Florida is proposing a bill that would have teachers grade their student’s parents on their school participation.

Now, THAT would really do wonders for teacher-parent relationships…

Linda Perlstein has a good piece exploring the consequences of such a bill.

If you combine this crazy scheme with all the other unhelpful ideas Governor Scott and Michelle Rhee are cooking up, you gotta’ wonder if there’s something in Florida’s drinking water — at least in some portions of the state….

“Former lawmaker won’t support changing ‘parent trigger’ law”

Former lawmaker won’t support changing ‘parent trigger’ law is an article from California Watch that provides interesting information, and it appears that trigger proponents don’t really have a grasp on how different an effort to unionize workers is from talking to parents, teachers, and districts about their schools. You can read my perspective on that difference here.

It’s also worth reading the comments on the California Watch article. As I’ve posted earlier, implementation of final rules for implementing the parent trigger has been delayed by the California Board of Education.