Miss a parent-teacher conference, go to jail

Miss a parent-teacher conference, go to jail for negligence, proposes Kim Worthy, a prosecutor in Detroit.  The Good Men Project Magazine reports:

Her plan would require parents to attend at least one conference per year or face three days in jail. Parents of those excelling in school would be exempt, as would those whose health issues make travel difficult and those “actively engaged” with teachers through e-mail, phone calls or letters.

“We have to find any means necessary to get parents involved,” Worthy said. “We have to start talking about prevention.”

Worthy is pushing the plan to the Detroit City Council, the Wayne County Commission and the state legislature, though she concedes it’s more of a talking point than a realistic plan.

With the ubiquity of computers and cell phones, it should be possible to hold virtual parent-teacher conferences that would be far more convenient for working parents.

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Comments

  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    First — I feel like we talked about this before. I’m getting a weird sense of deja vu, but I’m too lazy to research it.

    Second – What makes people think that making unwilling parents show up is going to lead to any better results than making unwilling students show up? You can compel attendance, but you can’t compel engagement or excellence. All we’re going to get from schemes like this are rooms full of resentful parents who are just as likely to take out their frustration on their kids as they are to have any sort of fruitful conversation with the teacher.

  2. I would just like to know in advance which parents don’t want to be bothered. I get tired of repeatedly trying to contact parents. If they truly don’t want to be part of their child’s education, I can deal with that and I can stop wasting my time. I think I’ll suggest that we include a “Don’t bother me” form in our enrollment package. Of course these are the same parents that don’t read the enrollment packages.

  3. With the ubiquity of computers and cell phones, it should be possible to hold virtual parent-teacher conferences that would be far more convenient for working parents.

    The parents who don’t show up tend not to live in a world where such things are ubiquitous.

  4. Richard Aubrey says:

    Mike.
    Not caring, and having the latest electronic toys are not mutually exclusive.

  5. Richard Aubrey says:

    Detroit doesn’t have any more jail cells. Talked to a Detroit cop who says the rule of thumb is if the guy has three or fewer rocks, you grind it with your shoe and send him on his way.
    “The bad guys have won,” he says. Jailing uncaring parents seems to be a non-starter, no matter how much some would like to see it done.

  6. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Talked to a Detroit cop who says the rule of thumb is if the guy has three or fewer rocks, you grind it with your shoe and send him on his way.

    I take the point of the anecdote, and totally agree with the point. But, you know, that’s actually a sensible police policy.

  7. How about a few steps down this road first?

    1) If a legislator misses a committee meeting or session of the legislature, they should spend three days in jail.

    2) If a teacher/administrator fails to show up at a scheduled conference, they should spend three days in jail.

    See how this works – then we can talk about applying it to parents. 😉

  8. Stacy in NJ says:

    I’ll take Marshall’s point further. If a parent gets jailed for failing to satisfy one obligation of parenting, then teachers and administrators should be jailed for failing to satisfy one of their obligations.

    Fail to teach students how to add/subtract/multipy/divide? 3 days in jail.

    Fail to teach students sentence structure? 3 days in jail.

    Fail to replace an inadequate teacher with a competent one? 3 days in jail.

    Bring it on.

  9. Mike Curtis says:

    I think I get it now – If you lead a horse to water, and it doesn’t drink, then hold its head beneath the surface until it drowns. There it is…problem solved.

  10. Stacy, while your idea is amusing, Marshall’s suggestions are a better parallel. Yours would be closer if Worthy had suggested jailing parents for student misbehavior or low achievement.

  11. GoogleMaster says:

    This is Detroit we’re talking about, right? Don’t most of the kids to whom this policy would apply already have one DNA donor in jail? How would jailing the breadwinning mother working three jobs solve anything?

  12. With the ubiquity of computers and cell phones, it should be possible to hold virtual parent-teacher conferences that would be far more convenient for working parents.

    I recently attempted to call 4 parents on their cell phones, the “official” numbers they gave the schools to call in the event of an emergency.

    Three of the phones were no longer in service, one parent had her voicemail turned off and would not answer her phone.

  13. Hey, my parents never got involved in my school activities. They were busy people trying to earn a living and making ends meet, but then I remember schools taking their responsibilities of actually TEACHING seriously. Because of the schools I went to I knew it was MY job to be a student and do the best I could. My parents also never got involved in any extracurricular activities I was involved in. Somehow that didn’t bother me at all the way it seems to bother kids these days. Our lives were separate except when we all got home after work and school and on weekends, when my parents made sure we did our chores, had some good times and a lot of love.

    This idea of jailing parents for not being involved with their kids’ schooling is ridiculous. If they don’t care, they don’t care whether you jail them or not and it’s up to the schools to make sure the kids are learning while they are in school.