View from Here - Mom, Dad - here's your report card

18th February 2011 at 00:00
Florida Republican wants teachers to grade parents as well as children. Helen Ward reports

A politician in Florida has raised the hackles of teachers and parents 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.

The parents of children from kindergarten to grade 3 (for eight to nine- year-olds) could find themselves graded as "satisfactory", "needs improvement" or "unsatisfactory" based on four criteria.

These include absences and tardiness, parents' responses to requests for meetings, children's completion of homework and whether they are "physically ready" for school, a category that includes making sure they have had enough sleep and turn up with the right equipment.

Mrs Stargel proposes grades be included on the pupil's report card and that parents should be able to appeal the final mark. However, 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 it could damage relations between teachers and parents and add to teachers' workload - although some information, such as attendance records, 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."

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT

On her GeekyMomma's blog, teacher Lee Kolbert suggests 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.

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