Mom and Dad, here's your report card
A politician in Florida has raised the hackles of parents and teachers by suggesting that it is not only children who should get report cards at the end of term. Republican Kelli Stargel has filed a bill in the Florida House of Representatives which asks teachers to grade parents on how involved they are in their children's education.
Parents of children in kindergarten to grade 3 (equivalent to Years 1-4) would be graded "satisfactory", "needs improvement" or "unsatisfactory" on four criteria: absence and tardiness rates, their response to requests for meetings, students' completion of homework and whether their children are "physically ready" for school - a category which includes making sure their children have had enough sleep and turn up with the equipment they need.
The grades would be included on the pupil's report card and parents could appeal. There would be no punishment for parents with a poor rating.
In the Sun-Sentinel newspaper, Mrs Stargel, a mother of five, said the proposal was not intended to be "big government coming down on parents", but a way to prompt parents to do the basics.
But there are concerns that it could damage relations between teachers and parents and add to teachers' workload - although some information such as attendance data is already kept.
Lee Kolbert, a teacher in Florida who blogs as GeekyMomma, said: "Certainly nobody can argue the facts that strong, appropriate parental involvement, good attendance, a good night's sleep and healthy eating all positively impact children's educational well-being. However, the idea of teachers grading the parents is a waste of teachers' time and antagonistic, not to mention bizarre!"
Here, the idea of enforceable home-school agreements for every child that would cover parental expectations was put forward by the Labour government, but not taken forward by the Coalition.
Stephen Watkins, head of Mill Field Primary in Leeds, said creating a formal process could backfire.
He said: "It's not my job to judge parents; my job is to educate children. We do keep a log of parents who attend or don't attend and contact them if we need to. There is a headteacher's comment box on children's reports and if absence is an issue, then I can comment.
"But if I have a problem, the best way is to be at the entrance and have a quick word directly. I do have a nag at them, but grading parents? I can't see what that would achieve. I can imagine that if I sent a report home saying 'you are not a good parent', some would want to come in and throttle me."
TO THE POINT
On her GeekyMomma's blog, teacher Lee Kolbert has a few alternative - and not entirely serious - suggestions for grading parents, including:
+5 points = parent respectfully asks teacher if moving their child's seat might be beneficial if they feel they are being distracted by other students.
-5 points = for each additional time parent requests seat change for same reason.
+10 points = parent finally admits own child is also distracting others and seat placement is not the issue.