Parents, grade thyself

Tennessee may ask parents to sign a school-involvement contract and grade their own effort, writes Lucas L. Johnson II in the Huffington Post. But parents who “fail” will suffer no consequences.

Under Tennessee’s contract legislation, parents in each school district are asked to sign a document agreeing to review homework and attend school functions or teacher conferences, among other things. Since it’s voluntary, there’s no penalty for failing to uphold the contract – but advocates say simply providing a roadmap for involvement is an important step.

Michigan has enacted a similar measure.

In the case of Tennessee’s report card proposal, a four-year pilot program will be set up involving two of Tennessee’s struggling schools. Parents of students in kindergarten through third grade will be given a blank report card at the same time as the students, and the parents will do a self-evaluation of their involvement in activities similar to those in the parental contract. Parents will give themselves a grade of excellent, satisfactory, needs improvement or unsatisfactory

Utah will ask parents to evaluate their involvement in an online survey.  Louisiana is considering legislation to grade parent participation.

 

About Joanne

Comments

  1. Michael E. Lopez says:

    It’s not often I resort to insults — as a general rule I try to see the best in people and processes. But I’ll make an exception in this case.

    Idiots. Morons. Stuttering, flailing, pre-verbal neolithic baboons.

    Very little ticks me off more in a public school than “learning contracts” with students — one-sided, compelled, so-called “agreements”, usually with with no consideration offered by the teachers whatsoever. (“Consideration” here is a legal term.) All these contracts do is teach students to devalue and disrespect contractual obligation — something that is absolutely sacred and may even be the basis for morality — and perhaps learn to accept that they’re subordinates to the school and that might makes right.

    Doing it for students is stupid. Doing it for parents is even stupider.

    If you want to write guidelines for parents, then here’s an idea: write some guidelines and put the heading “GUIDELINES FOR PARENTS” over it. You can even make parental acknowledgement of receipt a condition for attendance in public schools if you’d like.

    OR you can go all the way and radically change the “right” to public education by actually making it hinge on contractual performance. Hey Parents: Fill out your stupid little self-report-card or your kid doesn’t get to attend school next year. (Which would be fine, if you ask me, but I’m in the distinct minority when it comes to the propriety of restricting access to schools.)

    But if you pretend that these are contracts, all you’re doing is making a mockery of yourself, of the school system, and of an important social institution.

    To quote the wise Mr. Miyagi:

    Walk right side, safe.
    Walk left side, safe.
    Walk middle, squish. Just like grape.

  2. I’m so glad to see that we are talking about the parents’ role in their chldren’s education. It’s the important missing link in our education reform efforts…
    Tennessees’ approach may not be the final answer. Neither, perhaps, may Michigan’s–but, they are both onto something important . For education to succeed, it’s best to have that triangle–teacher, student, parent. It’s good for educators and states to inform parents of their critical role. Call it guidelines. Call it iinformation. Call it a contract, even. Whatever you call it– hardly matters to me. The importat message is that parents need to be actively supportive of and involved in their child as a learner and supportive of their teachers and schools. It’s that triangle that needs to be positively activated. I applaud these states for getting the ball rolling to get us there.

  3. “Under Tennessee’s contract legislation, parents in each school district are asked to sign a document agreeing to review homework and attend school functions or teacher conferences, among other things. Since it’s voluntary, there’s no penalty for failing to uphold the contract – but advocates say simply providing a roadmap for involvement is an important step.”

    And what if they don’t sign it? What then?

    (Also, who says that parents have to attend all school functions. There are dozens of reasons why you might not manage, even if you are very conscientious.)

  4. Cranberry says:

    I object to such “contracts.” There isn’t the option to negotiate a different deal. There isn’t the option to not sign the thing. An agreement signed under duress isn’t valid. This is an expansion of the ridiculous student “contracts” which have been used in the past.

    If it were a private school, or a magnet/choice school, no problem–because you have the option not to send your child to that school. (Even then, though, self-grading goes too far.) However, you’re required to make some provision for your child’s education, so an open-access public school can’t turn kids away because the parents refused to sign a contract.

    It’s also a step away from making certain resources are concentrated in the classroom. Who tracks such things? Who will correlate all the parental responses? How many more employees will schools need to hire to coordinate parental paperwork?

    And, asking parents to grade their own performance is asinine. Now, if you asked parents to grade other parents’ performance, it might get interesting, but you know, they’ll only point out the obvious. In many systems, everyone knows which families are having trouble supporting their children.

  5. “And, asking parents to grade their own performance is asinine.”

    Right. It’s generally true that the worst performers have high self-esteem and self-confidence.

  6. I think it’s a great idea! Schools are finally being specific about what they expect from parents. I would sign it in a second. Add in requirements for attendance. Add in proof of having enough food; of having dental checkups. Put everything in there.

    HOWEVER, this works both ways. Now that we have contracturally eliminated my part of the problem, we can focus on why my children might be struggling with the times table in fifth grade. The school would have to provide proof that my children are not mentally capable or proof that this skill is not necessary. If the kids are not capable, then what would the school’s contractural liability be if I got the job done quickly at home or at Kumon?

    Then, when they send home notes to parents telling us to practice math facts, I would tell them that that is not in my contract. I’m sick and tired of schools claiming that there is some sort of mysterious missing parent involvement when results are bad. Let’s eliminate the parent variables so that we can see more clearly what is going on.

    Call their bluff.