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.”

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