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Grading the Parents

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Are parents doing their part to ensure their children are successful in school?

A school board member in Manchester, Conn., wants to know. Steve Edwards proposed last month that the district issue report cards to parents, to gauge how well they support their children’s academic, physical, and emotional well-being, according to this story in the Hartford Courant.

The story suggests that Edwards' proposal faces an uphill battle, and recounts the failed experiment with parent report cards in Chicago. But there is increasing recognition that what parents do, or don't do, to help reinforce the importance of learning and working hard in school is often reflected in student achievement.

I have heard a lot of complaints from parents about teachers and school administrators not doing enough to help their children learn. But when these parents are asked what they've done to help the child and the teacher I often get a puzzled look.

If nothing else, parent report cards could wake some parents up to their role in their children's school success.

Do you think parent report cards could help the cause?

11 Comments

Grading parents is not a good idea. The parents who least understand their role in raising their children are destined to get the lowest grades in this plan, and low grades are not the best motivaters.

Finding a way to motivate parents to do specific activities and improve communication with their children would be fantastic. For parents to stress the importance of learning and working hard in school, they must believe this themselves. Encouraging parents to become lifelong learners could result in increased achievement for their children and them as well.

Flora is correct. The results would do little other than be media fodder used possibly in ways never intended. That doesn't mean that we don't sometimes wish we could "grade" parents like parents "grade" schools and teachers... I think that most teachers know, very quickly, once a face-to-face meeting has happened with a student's parents, how helpful they will be. Sometimes attitude tells all you need to know.
Other times, you know that, no matter how supportive the parent(s) is verbally, they do not have the means to do much more than that and are very dependent upon the school. Add to that parents who have to work long hours just to barely hold it together, are rarely home because of work, are young/single parents, have older children doing the raising, etc, and more, and I am not sure just how much the school can do. In my district, we already feed ALL students breakfast and lunch, bus the vast majority to and from school, and provide access to social services (sparse as those are). Fortunately, many parents are very grateful and want to be the best parents that they are able to be.

Yes, parental invovement should be graded or at least commented upon. One factor related to the contrasting achievement of minority students, Asian, Black and Latino probably revolves around this - e.g., books in the home. And, as a former teacher I've had parents come in to watch their children in class as a way of impressing both of them what was involved in getting educated.

Yes, parental invovement should be graded or at least commented upon. One factor related to the contrasting achievement of minority students, Asian, Black and Latino probably revolves around this - e.g., books in the home. And, as a former teacher I've had parents come in to watch their children in class as a way of impressing both of them what was involved in getting educated.

I agree with Flora. How about educating the parents? Some just don't know what to do, but they'd do it if they knew. Some feel that the school is more capable at helping their children than they are, especially if they don't have much education themselves. And like Kevin said, some have more immediate, pressing issues, like feeding their families, or have so much stress that alot falls through the cracks. We need to help these parents as much as we can, mostly be helping their children. But grading? Please. For many parents, it'll be just one more thing that they can fail at.

Absolutely! Parents should be graded and held accountable. If your child is getting below a "C" and/or refuses to behave, then social services should be called and the parents should be required to go to parenting classes and/or face fines.

Schools are spending too much money and are using too many resources trying to teach “students” who don’t want to learn and whose parents don’t care and don’t value education. (You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.)

We’ve been trying the backwards approach of blaming the teachers and the schools for too long and with little if any results. We will never have the results we want until we hold students and their parents accountable.

Is it the teacher’s fault if a student comes to school and is tired, hungry, doesn’t want to work, refuses to behave, refuses to participate, won’t do any homework, is a member of a gang, etc? Teachers can’t control those things. We can’t even expel students from the K-8 schools.

Would we blame a doctor if her patient was overweight, refused to eat well, wouldn’t take her medication, wouldn’t sleep enough or get enough exercise, and thus was unhealthy? If not, why do we blame teachers and schools for things they can’t control?

The key to success in real estate is location, location, location. The key to a child’s success is the parents, the parents, the parents.

It doesn't matter what race or ethnicity you are or whether you are rich or poor, if your parents are involved, then you will do well. If not, don't blame the schools. To paraphrase Bill Clinton, "It's the parents, stupid."

In Califonria the Deparment of Education put out a Request For Application for 15 million dollars. The money was to pay for teachers to do home visits with the parents. In order to qualify a school has to have 50% of the teachers and 50% of the parents approved the plan. Most schools would receive between $20,000 and $50,000 depending on enrollment. While a few schools have taken advantage, a good portion of the money remains upspent. As a taxpayer, if the schools won't even use the money I have put up, then I have a hard time with hearing why something won't work. As an educator, I applaud this type of funding. Refer to the Neil Soto Act in California.

Schools are for learning and NOT for social services! If students need home visits and outreach, then social workers need to be involved. Where are the social workers?

I have to begin by thanking the teachers who wrote in defense of parents--this is a voice too seldom heard from the profession.

I have worked many years in the social work profession. I can say that referrals from schools to my community-based organization were slim to none in a couple of decades of experience (although I do recall a letter from a school once when I was working in a health center--it practically demanded Ritalin for a student, not served by an IEP or any other services, who had "struggled" in school for years). In fact schools were pretty notably absent from any of the community tables that came together around neighborhood problems. We did host school board members for forums when it was time for levies, but otherwise teachers and schools were pretty much fortresses that housed employees from other places with little concern for anything beyond their hours or geography.

Ms. Maruyama should read Ferguson, in addition to Ogbu before perpetrating the number of books in the home excuse. There is far more going on in achievement gaps than Ogbu's rather simplistic explanations.

Personally, as a parent, I am continually frustrated by how little my efforts are appreciated or desired--but how much I am blamed for poor outcomes. I am still waiting for my district to provide the minimal Title I parent meetings required by No Child--let alone listen to parents and allow them a voice in improvement planning. As it happens, I am a reasonably well-educated middle-class parent that teachers ought to be comfortable communicating with. But my experience is that EVERY parent brings something of value to the table--when they are allowed a seat.

Personally, as a parent, I honestly don't think too much emphasis should be placed on the issue of a report card for the parents. My daughter has everything a child could ask for, for instance, her own laptop, internet connection with one of the best services available, also wireless for her laptop when she isn't at home. The most important factor is that she has my undivided attention, love, support, discipline and so on. The one problem I have with her is that she actually doesn't have a desire to want to learn. She just shows no interest in school at all. So, once again, on the parent receiving a report card and being labeled as a good or bad parent, I honestly don't know where I would fall simply because all I's have been dotted and all T's have been crossed.

If there is a way to hold parents responsible for their part in educating their kids, I am all for it. It is simply too much for any teacher to control what is going on in the home. Home is where it all begins. Kids are molded by what they see there and the attitudes demonstrated. I am in an inner city high school where I am responsible for educating 20 special education students and getting them ready to be successful in the world beyond school. They are mild moderate. Of the 20 only 2 come from loving interested homes. The remaining 18 come from crack addicts, alcoholics and various other socially unacceptable occupations. The 2 from the loving homes are the only ones that are making it. Of the 20 IEP's in my caseload none of the parents attend the meeting and in a few instances will keep the student home on the day of the meeting. Needless to say, I am resentful of the notion that it is my responsibility alone to make sure these students succeed when so much of the damage has been done that is and will be out of my control.

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