By Jessica Kelmon, Associate Editor
You teach your kids to work hard in school and respect the teacher – but what if the tables were turned and that highly revered educator started grading you?
Welcome to parent report cards, a proposed pilot program at two struggling schools in Tennessee. It’s a novel idea, and I’m guessing a small part of teachers the world over consider it long overdue. In fact, it probably is.
Tennessee wants parents to grade themselves
But it’s not just an innovative school program, it’s the subject of a state bill that just passed the Tennessee State Legislature and the state’s governor is reportedly inclined to sign. If passed, parents would get a report card to evaluate themselves when they get their child’s report card. So teachers wouldn’t actually grade parents – but parents would grade themselves on how they’re supporting their children’s education at home (stuff like reviewing homework, communicating with the teacher, and attending school conferences) on an E to U (E=excellent, S=satisfactory, N=needs improvement, U=unsatisfactory) basis.
This is the state’s second major attempt to increase parental involvement in public education. Tennessee has already passed a parental contract which will go into effect next year. It allows schools to give parents contracts specifying how they should support their children's education.
Schools can’t do it alone
If it passes and succeeds, the four-year pilot report card program could be expanded to more (maybe all) schools. Both the contract and the report card programs are more about raising awareness than censuring parents – there’s no real bite. Signing the contract is voluntary and there’s no penalty for failing to uphold it. Even if parents give themselves straight U’s, such “failure” has no external repercussions.
The point, however, is important – and one the legislature is trying to drive home: when parents get involved, kids are more successful at school – with better grades, better staying power, and a better chance of attending college.
If your school sent home such a contract, would you sign it? If you had to grade yourself right now on reviewing your child’s homework each night and attending school meetings, would you get an E or U? You can tell me – I won’t judge. In fact, no one should; the point is to get us thinking.