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Friday, January 21, 2011

Teachers Grading Parents, whats next strapping kids to pigs and pushing them off cliffs?

Can we please have have reforms that are meaningful and realistic. They say in teacher school to tell the kids there are no stupid questions. After 11 years as a teacher I can say without a doubt, there are stupid questions. Just because our legislators think of an idea it does not mean they should try and make it into a law. -cpg

From the Sun Sentinel

by Rafeal Olmeda

I'm trying to think of a policy that would be more destructive to the teacher-parent relationship than the one proposed yesterday by State Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland. I can't.

Stargel filed a bill in the Legislature that would require teachers to grade parents on their level of involvement in their kids' education. Because apparently getting these two critical groups (parents and teachers) on the same team can best be served by having one judge the other.

"Without proper parental involvement in all aspects of a child's life, the child's prospects to be a well-equipped and useful member of society are greatly diminished," the bill states.

That is true. It's also irrelevant to the bill, which would require teachers to grade parents on "their response to requests for meetings or communication, their children's completion of homework and preparation for tests, their children's absentee and tardy rates and their children's 'physical preparation for school,' including a good night's sleep and appropriate meals."

Let's look at those factors one at a time in terms of the status quo:

* Response to requests for communication: Is there something stopping teachers from writing "We really need to talk about your child's progress, performance and behavior" on their report cards now? Grading a parent on responsiveness does nothing but build walls of defensiveness. It is not a constructive change.

* Children's completion of homework and preparation for tests: Is it possible, even remotely, for a child to get an F in homework and a parent to get an A? Or for a child to get an F on a test and a parent to get an A on preparation? If not, then what does grading a parent tell us that we don't already know? Nothing.

* Their children's absentee and tardy rates: Again, can a child do well in these areas while the parents fail? Can the parents do well while the children fail? If the parent's performance is inextricably tied to the child's, what added value do you get by judging the parents? None.

*Children's 'physical preparation for school,' including a good night's sleep and appropriate meals: A student's behavior (staying awake in class, for example) can already be noted in a report to parents. A student's diet and nutrition are, frankly, none of the school's business outside the school walls. While I respect the fact that children need proper nutrition, as a parent I resent the notion of a teacher grading the meals I provide for my children. Teachers are not equipped to judge the nutritional values of the meals provided to the hundreds of students in their care.

Teachers have enough of a challenge doing their jobs without the added responsibility (and no added compensation, I'll bet) of antagonizing parents by assigning them grades.

The idea of grading parents is a terrific conversation starter. But it's a lousy public policy.

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