Across the nation, legislators are starting to blame parents for when their children mess up. Maybe the child is late to school; maybe he or she just doesn’t know how to behave. Either way, the parents are being held up to blame.
Understandably, teachers are fed up with being blamed for the failures of American education, and legislators are starting to hear them. A spate of bills introduced in various states now takes aim squarely at the parents.
Who’s To Blame? Parents? Kids? Teachers?
It is a complicated idea, taking on the controversial question of whether parents, teachers or children are most to blame when a child fails to learn.
From The New York Times:
But the thinking goes like this: If you look at schools that “work,” as measured by test scores and graduation rates, they all have involved (overinvolved?) parents, who are on top of their children’s homework, in contact with their children’s teachers, and invested in their children’s futures. So just require the same of parents in schools that don’t work, and the problem is solved (or, at least, dented), right?
Time was that children’s behavior in the classroom reflected on their “upbringing” and parents were expected to reinforce an accepted truth that “teacher knows best.”
But today’s parents are just as likely to see the teacher as the problem — a view that has been reinforced by presidents who accuse teachers of leaving more than a few children behind, governors who want to eliminate their collective bargaining and mayors who want to be rid of laws that protect teachers who have been in their jobs the longest.
It was conversations about what to do with lousy teachers that led to some of the new parental measures. State Representative Linda Lawson, a Democrat of Indiana, visited a local high school being threatened with closure for poor performance. “Any kind of problem in an academic setting, and people blame the teachers,” she recalled hearing over and over again. “They say things like ‘If teachers were more responsive … didn’t have the summers off … worked an eight-hour day …’ But no one looks at the parents.”
In Florida, State Representative Kelli Stargel, a Republican, was hearing the same things. “Teachers were telling us: ‘We can only do so much in the classroom. We have no control over what happens with these kids at home,’” she said.
Parents Must Take Responsibility For The Failings Of Their Children
Ms. Lawson’s answer was to introduce a bill requiring parents to spend three hours each semester volunteering either in the school building or at a school-related function. She cast it as an antibullying measure, though it would not just apply to parents of bullies. The purpose, she said, was to increase parent-teacher interaction, giving teachers a chance to talk to parents and giving parents a better sense of the rhythms and requirements of the school.
What Do You Think?
Alaska fines parents for a child’s truancy. In California, a misdemeanor charge can be brought against a parent if the truancy is flagrant enough. California is also the first state to allow judges to order parents to attend parenting classes if their child belongs to a gang.
All the statistics point to the fact that student with parents who are involved at school ultimately do better.
Do you agree?
Photo Credit: Rennett Stowe via Creative Commons
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