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Home » School days, Stop Wasting America's Time

Grading parents doesn’t make the grade

Submitted by on Thursday, 20 January 2011 No Comment
Note to Florida Rep. Kelli Stargel: I've already passed kindergarten. Second grade, too! Therefore, it really doesn't matter what my kids' teachers think about my performance. I've earned a diploma and a degree. It's the guys' turn now.

That apparently is irrelevant to Stargel, who's backing a bill that would force Florida teachers to attach parents' grades to children's report cards.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, mom and dad would be evaluated 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.

All of which are crucial in a child's ultimate success, and Stargel says that's her ultimate goal: "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.

I just don't see how you can legislate tit. Stargel, heaven help us, is trying but all the bill would accomplish is more work for teachers.

Many parents would ignore the "grades" once they've finished chuckling. Folks who fall into that category include moms like a friend of mine, who pored over learning standards for two states when her family moved in the middle of the school year because she wanted to make sure her child didn't miss anything in the transition. That mom's on the ball, and it's ridiculous to "grade" her based on someone else's impression of what's happening in her home.

Some parents will flash back to bad school experiences of their own and react with fear or hostility. Even I, confident bordering on cocky, used to get nervous before parent-teacher conferences. Imagine the reaction of people not as accustomed to or as comfortable with talking to educators.

The rest will ignore it, just as they ignore reminders about the importance of reading. Or maybe they'll simply overlook it because they're single parents doing their best to keep their children clothed and fed on a daily basis.

A few will take the "grades" to heart, but chances are they're the folks who already are asking "what can I do to help my kids" at every conference.

The result: A lot of work for teachers without much to show for it. That doesn't sound like a good use of resources in a state where school funding is just as short as it is in the other 49. While Stargel's bill wouldn't involve much direct spending once they've paid a pricey consultant to develop the grading system, there's certainly an ongoing opportunity cost.

The heck of it is, Stargel has a good point in a bill that otherwise comes across as petulant finger-pointing. Yes, parents matter. Parental involvement is key. But her bill would do nothing to increase that.

There's also such a thing as too much parental involvement. It's not my responsibility to complete my kids' homework, though at age 5 and 7 they certainly need reminders. With Big Guy in particular, though, I am perfectly willing to let him not do it rather than to listen to an hour-long harangue. He can stay in from recess and finish it the next day at school if that's what he'd prefer.

And "physical preparation" for school? Breakfast is served here every morning. Most mornings Big Guy eats, some mornings he doesn't.  I've found that a rumbling tummy is a better teacher than all  my lectures. He seldom skips out without eating two days in a row.

In Stargel's grade book, I suppose those points make me a bad mom. But, then, Stargel's book is so unworthy of attention that I'm not fretting much.

She should Stop Wasting America's time with pouty, punishing legislation. Creating fissures between parents and teachers is no way to go about improving schools.

Copyright 2011 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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