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Back to School, Nightly

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In the perennial discussion over how to get parents more involved in their children’s education, one teacher has arrived at a solution, according to the New York Times. Damion Frye, a 9th grade English teacher from Montclair High School in New Jersey, has been asking parents to read and respond on his blog to their children’s classroom reading assignments or face a consequence—their child’s grade could be lowered. Says Frye, who is a Montclair alumnus, “Parents complain about never getting to see their kids’ work. Now they have to.”

Parent response has been mixed. Some are happy to do the work, others not so much. Lydia Bishop, whose daughter was in Frye’s class last year, balked, “When my daughter told me about the homework, I looked at her and said, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me. I graduated. I’m done.’” Issues have arisen in the three years since Frye began spreading the homework around, but so far neither busy schedule, language fluency, nor computer access has been a deterrent.

7 Comments

This is interesting. My initial reaction though was to the assumed need to coerce parents into cooperation. I read the article and I am still not entirely clear what this looks like (are parents blogging with students?)--however I admire that this teacher is clearly thinking outside the box and integrating technology into the classroom. He also appears to be willing to accommodate (receiving private emails from a parent with limited English skills who did not want to post to the blog).

Great idea! I'm sure any teacher would run into problems and complaints. You would also need the strong support of your principal. But this would have such a great impact on families.

As a teacher, I think this is a great idea. Too many children lose out because their parents are not involved at all in their education.

My colleage pointed out one concern: Will the negative affect on the students' grades for their parents non-participation stand the test of a court challenge?

As a parent whose youngest is incredibly reluctant for me to read any of her writing (even after grading), I would welcome such an assignment. As a teacher, I applaud the idea.

As a national board certified teacher and parent, this is intriguing. I have a 3rd grader who continually has "homework" that we have to do together for her success. It annoys me that some assignments require so much of my time. This is her education. I am supportive but I am not the 3rd grader, she is. I have two children and these tasks affect my time with both of my children. Homework shouldn't be a judgment of a student's home but rather an opportunity to strengthen classroom learning. I used to teach in a hight concentration of low SES students. This would not work there. Should a child be punished academically because his/her parents are working, busy taking care of other children or simply unwilling? I don't think that's fair to the student. Their grades should be based on what they know and are able to do, not by how involved their parents are in their education. This sounds good and means well, but isn't fair to all.

Thanks, Nina. I agree. I never expected my parents to help me with my homework -- I was on my own. They never finished high school, yet I managed to earn straight 'A's through school. When did it become the parent's job to sit through homework? As a working parent myself, I resent the school's upsurping my family time, degrading the precious little quality time I have to spend my children. Which is not to say that I don't support my children with their homework. And I check in with their teachers often. But grading my children by my 'homework'? Give me a break. This policy is totally unfair to the children, parents, working families, lower SES, large families, under-educated parents, and minorities. It caters to stay-at-home soccer moms. This is a case of an educator oversteping his bounds.

I think this is a violation of student rights to grade them on their parents' involvement - or lack thereof. With the national movement towards standards-based grading, this is completely inappropriate.

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  • Dana Dosik: I think this is a violation of student rights to read more
  • Cynthia Russell: Thanks, Nina. I agree. I never expected my parents to read more
  • Nina: As a national board certified teacher and parent, this is read more
  • Susan: As a parent whose youngest is incredibly reluctant for me read more
  • Amy: As a teacher, I think this is a great idea. read more

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