Grade the Parents? Yes!

by Ryan on October 29, 2007

in Anything Else,Culture,Politics

I couldn’t help but laugh when I heard about Manchester, Connecticut’s Board of Education member, Republican Steve Edwards, suggesting that parents be graded on whether or not their children have had a good breakfast and are otherwise appropriately prepared for school!

Sweet Jesus would I love to do that for a change!  But only for shallow reasons.  Teachers get knocked around and even blamed for the state of education in this country: we’re not totally innocent.  But from the other side, many teachers see a lack of parenting as a major contribution to those poor results since our students are more and more likely to be ill-prepared for school than they were 20 years ago.  As a high school teacher for about seven years, I cannot tell you how many times my colleagues and I would have loved to grade a few choice parents on what is obviously negligent parenting leading to their pain-in-the-[expletive] kids that end up in our classrooms (it’s even more fun when their siblings show up a few years later!). 

Don’t get me wrong, the vast majority of all parents would easily pull an “A”, but some parents need a reality check.  One can’t start being a parent when your child is 15.  I’ve seen what happens when some parents try it and it’s scary: a sense of powerlessness and huge amounts of frustration have led many parents to tears in parent/teacher conferences.  Parenting is not a part-time job. 

Sure, I absolutely believe that people have freedoms and can parent the way they want.  No one is going to get parenting completely right and kids are pretty independent at a certain age and can make their own logical decisions: good parents can have not-so-great kids.  I can’t hand select my students either so I’ll continue to suck it up.  Yet, I think it’s every teacher’s dream to send a progress report home to some parents, but only to satisfy our frustration with teaching those particular kids.  The grades wouldn’t be binding, of course, but it would be a lot of fun from this end! 

As for Manchester or any other school district: it’s the property taxes of those parents that pay your salary, so I don’t think this kind of initiative will go anywhere.  Steve Edwards’ job may go somewhere, but his initiative won’t.

{ 1 trackback } » Grade the Parents? Yes!
October 30, 2007 at 5:17 am

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Chris October 29, 2007 at 4:36 pm

The sad thing about parents is that while there are many that are great, that do their jobs as parents and prepare their kids for adulthood, there are almost as many that don’t. Teaching for nearly 5 years, one trend that I have noticed is that parents are shirking their responsibilties of being their child’s parent and are instead being their child’s friend…many time, the parents don’t know right from wrong (or don’t care) and it will be detrimental to the child. I have taught in some districts where the socio-economic climate is upper middle class to very wealthy and I will share a funny story about that.

One student that I had (we’ll call her Jamie to protect her innocence) wore something very inappropriate to school that day: a white Bloomingdale’s jumpsuit thingy that showed major cleavage and one of those black thongs that is visible over the hip hugging pants. A teacher send her down for a dress code infraction and when her mother came in, she said, “I think that “Jamie” looks cute and she spent a lot of money on that outfit. She and the VP got into a shouting match over her outfit and the parent and kid won. Right there was a prime example of a parent being a child’s friend more than a child’s parent.

How to solve the parenting problem in this country? I won’t get into that now, but I do agree that while fun, it would be a gross abuse of government intrusion.

Interesting things coming out of CT in education…there’s another district that attemtped to fine its students and their parents for infractions…unfortunately, I could not find the link.


myalterego October 30, 2007 at 10:52 am

Oooohhh no. If you want to grade parents, then guess what? We parents get to grade the teachers! then it would be a pretty good system of checks & balances! Otherwise, you have the Congress without the House… remember there are teachers who may not be parents, and may not understand all the dynamics of the home. Please, dont call DCF right away but is it POSSIBLE that school starts too early for some children to eat without getting a stomachache??? Is it a HUGE deal to set aside 10 minutes for snack time in the late morning for a packed healthy snack??

Just like we dont always know why a teacher may yell at a child or neglect to notice their hard work, rendering them crestfallen… I think the concept is great… we should hold parents accountable for giving their children a good start. But we have to draw the line at ‘rapping the proverbial ruler’ on the parent’s knuckles’. I know PLENTY of teachers who would RIGHTEOUSLY abuse that privelege!

A parent report card? Great idea. A teacher report card? Even better.


Ryan October 30, 2007 at 3:58 pm

Teachers are subject to gaining tenure from a school district, which run by a School Board, who is elected by the town’s citizens. If a tenured teacher is out of line or a problem they are subject to tenureship hearings where they could get the boot. Unfortunately, unions intimidate school boards from tenure hearing except for the most extreme cases. So, yes, there is already an institutionalized system in place to get rid of bad teachers.

But I do agree that school starts too early. Multiple studies over the years have shown that a teenager needs a few hours to stir in the morning before their brains are at their peak performance and ready to absorb the most info. However, varsity sporting events need to take place at a convenient time for parent pick-ups and travel time. So, our children’s high school education suffers for physiological reasons while catering to sports over academics: what a message to send! We have some of the world’s best elementary and middle schools, but some of the worst performing high schools in the developed world. El.ed. and middle school tend to start after 8am, and in some cases 9am. High school? Mine starts at 7:16am and that’s not unusual. I love sports and think that kids should be more active, but academics should always take priority in my opinion.


Mike October 30, 2007 at 6:53 pm

A system to get rid of bad teachers that is too complacent or intimidated to operate is effectively no system at all. The NYC rubber rooms prove that.

I apologize for the lefty link, but then again, I’m not the one who put the Beeb on the Blogroll :)


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