Monday, January 31, 2011

To Grade Parents or Not to Grade Parents. Today's Teacher Question

Teachers often quip that it's easy to understand why a kid is the way s/he is once we've met the parents. Generally, such observations reflect a student's classroom performance. Really, it should come as no surprise that the accountability culture defining education at present should lead to legislation with the intent of grading parents. That's what Republican Kelli Stargel of Lakeland, Florida proposes in HB 255.

Only a few years ago, some states debated legislation designed to hold parents accountable for their child's school attendance by incarcerating or fining the parent(s). Now Stargel calls for parental accountability through legislation that would more than double an elementary teacher's class size since parents, in a sense, assume the role of students in that they, too, will earn grades.

In part, the  proposed legislation reads: (6)ACCOUNTABILITY.---To help parents establish a home environment that supports the child as a student, each teacher shall monitor and assess the quality of the involvemtnt of the parents of each student in his or her class.

While my initial reaction was one of support for grading parents, as a parent myself, I'm not eager to be put under a microscope for the adolescent free will of my own boys, whose choices sometimes made me wander whether or not they were switched at birth.

Most parents, even those of a prodigal child, punish themeselves aplenty for the misdeeds of their culturally and peer-influenced offspring. They really don't need me weilding my purple pen at them.

I can hear the supermarket check-out line buzz already:
Bobby's Mom: What did you get in Mrs. Jones' class.
Brian's Mom: I got a "satisfactory."

Bobby's Mom: How did you do that? I know you didn't go to the conference.

Brian's Mom: I got a note from my husband, the doctor.

Don't we already have problems aplenty?

Writing in today's The Answer Sheet, Valerie Strauss calls the idea "nutty," and notes the mutual exclusivity of calls for value-added assessment measures for evaluating teachers in the same breath as calls to grade parents:

Now that Stargel has shown that she accepts the fact that home life has a major impact        on academic performance, she and her colleagues should now ask themselves just how hypocritical it would be to keep pushing “value-added” assesssment of teachers.

Grading parents is a bad idea that we teachers should let pass. As this CNN story shows, we're already conflicted about the issue, and it isn't even law yet.