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  • Writer's pictureJoanne Jacobs

Parent report cards: Gutsy or pushy?

One of the secrets of Success Academy schools’ success is “holding parents to account for honoring the agreement they signed when enrolling their children,” writes Robert Pondiscio. The high-scoring charter network — with mostly low-income black and Hispanic students — requires parents to get kids to school on time and in uniform, avoid unexcused absences and monitor homework and reading logs.

“We’ve never believed that we could educate kids without the parents,” Moskowitz told him recently. “We’re not that good.”

Now Success is going a step farther — maybe too far, writes Pondiscio. The school is sending home parent report cards.

“Parent Investment Cards” evaluate how well parents perform in “school readiness,” “homework supervision,” and “parent responsiveness and investment.” Like their children, parents can be deemed “meeting expectations” (green), “approaching expectations” (yellow), or “not meeting expectations” (red).

Pondiscio has talked to several Success parents who feel insulted by the report cards. “I’m doing everything that I can,” a low-income South Bronx mother told him. “How are you gonna give me ‘approaching expectations’ when I’m killing myself?”

Success charters have long wait lists, so perhaps Moskowitz can afford to alienate some parents. But is she crossing the line from gutsy to pushy (and patronizing)?

Caren Lissner imagines a middle-class school district’s parent report card on SheKnows. To excel in “participation,” a parent must take time off work to show up for the “PTA Trike-A-Thon, Yoga-Thon, Kale-a-Thon, Autumnal Equinox Luncheon, Costume Parade, 100th Day of School, plus graduations from kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth and fifth grades,” all held in the middle of the day.

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