In this third installment of my series, Education: It Takes Three, we are again going to be discussing parents. However, unlike my previous post, 8 Things Parents Do Right, we aren’t going to talk about wonderful parents (like you, dear readers). This time we're focusing on the not-so-wonderful ones.
Education is a tripod. Tripods have three legs. The three legs of education are the student, the parents, and the teacher. All three of these parties have to do their “job” for a child to get an education. The media and politicians have stupidly blamed teachers when a student isn't successful in school even when it is the student and/or the parent who drop the ball. If we ever want education reform to be successful, we must include parental accountability.
There’s been a lot of talk about taxes lately. In all this discussion, shouldn’t we include the cost of a parent considering school to be little more than a babysitter? Shouldn’t we as taxpayers hold parents accountable for the holding up their end of the bargain? After all, we spend a lot of money educating a child. Why should we be asked to pay for a parent whose child deliberately sits in school all day doing nothing and learning nothing? How can we change this? How about we start by taking away a parent’s child tax credit? “Well, how would that work?” you ask. How about we set up some basic expectations that parents would have to meet each year to qualify for the child tax credit? I don’t know, just off the top of my head:
1. Does the child come to school at least 90% of the time? That would allow for approximately 18 days of school a kid could miss before a parent would fail this one. Obviously, I am not talking about a child who has a prolonged illness or medical condition. If necessary, a doctor’s note could exempt a parent from this.
2. Does the child come to school with all homework satisfactorily completed at least 90% of the time? As in the attendance requirement, this would allow for 18 days (nearly a month of school days) when “I forgot” would be allowed.
3. Did the parent attend Back to School Night? “But what if a parent has to work?” I hear you wondering. It’s once a year, folks. My wife and I, as teachers, both do Back to School Night each year. We also go way above and beyond and offer a morning session for parents to come and hear the same information before school. Guess what? Even then we always have parents who don’t come. Why? Because it doesn’t cost them anything. That has to change.
4. Did the parent attend parent/teacher conference? Excuses? See above.
5. Did the child behave appropriately at school as demonstrated by not getting suspended/expelled? In other words, simply giving birth shouldn’t earn a parent a tax credit. A person’s parenting should have to “merit” getting such a tax break. Where have I heard about folks being paid based upon their “merit” recently? More on that soon!
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