Saturday, February 23, 2013

Bad Parents Lose Child Tax Credit

I don’t have to tell you that the adults we encounter when we are out in public often don’t behave themselves. That’s hardly news. However, I do need to point out that the jerk who didn’t hold the door open for you, the rude idiot at your child's soccer game, and the weasel who flipped you the bird on the freeway have something in common:  they all have kids. What’s my point? My point is that their kids go to school which means that teachers have to deal with these people not as  strangers in a traffic jam, but up close and personal. 

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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22 comments:

  1. What a great post! I love your suggestions! I can just imagine how this would change parent involvement! Great ideas...now we just need to get you into Congress!

    œKaryn
    A is for Apple B is for Blog
    Kideducator@comcast.net

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    1. Hi Karyn!
      Thanks! It really would increase parental involvement while affirming the hard work of parents who are already doing a great job with their kids (and I am so blessed to be teaching great kiddos with awesome parents this year!)!

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  2. I have been saying this for years! It can't be that difficult. I am a parent and it wouldn't phase me a bit. I am being held accountable as a teacher, I think it's high time we hold parents accountable. I wonder if it would really change anything though.
    Hilary
    Second Grade is Out of This World!

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    1. Hi Hilary! Even if all it did was generate more tax dollars for schools, it would be a success!

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    2. True! I just wonder about those parents who would blame the schools/teachers if they didn't get the tax credit. Of course, they blame the schools/teachers for most everything now a days anyway.
      Hilary
      Second Grade is Out of This World!

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    3. That's why it would have to be so black and white! Did you attend Back to school night? Yes or no? Did your child attend school 90% of the time? Yes or no? Avoiding other things that are too subjective would force the responsibility and blame back where it belongs!

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    4. To true! I'm all for it! Now, how do we get this put into action? :)
      Hilary
      Second Grade is Out of This World!

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  3. You hit the nail on this one and seriously would love to see how many parents would change their attitudes about parenting in general if this one ever actually came into play. As soon as money becomes an issue sadly I think many would change their tune, but what actually happened to loving their children just because and wanting to do right by them no matter what. Great Post Justin and yet again my hat is off to you on saying it quite perfectly!!

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    1. Hi Janine!
      Thanks for reading! You're right. It is sad that it will take hitting some parents in the pocketbook to get them to step up and parent!

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  4. As much as I like your idea, I don't think it would change parents much. The first years would cause a huge rift, but after that, they would get used to less money. Of course the other side would mean that there's less of an incentive to have kids in the first place.

    Great post.

    April @ 100lbCountdown.com

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    1. Hi April! I think we'll have to agree to disagree on people being blasé about losing money.

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    2. Maybe, I'm just saying that watching the economy for the last few years as people went on unemployment who quickly learned to live with less income and people continually voting for raising taxes, which decreases income, I can see it having a short-term effect, but not a long-term.

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  5. There are exceptions to #3, such as a single parent working 2 jobs to make ends meet. I do agree that there isn't an excuse, given a teacher's effort, to make accommodations for numbers 3 and 4. That's presuming, however, that teachers make the efforts to meet the parents halfway, which does not always happen. Unfortunately I know of many teachers that put in minimal effort for conferences and such.

    As for #5... That's a whole other kettle of fish. At what point are the kids responsible for their actions? I have direct experience in this area, what with my oldest getting kicked out of school twice. Eventually we had to put him in a reform school. But that is a different conversation.

    http://www.postpostmoderndad.com/2009/08/14/history-lesson-part-1/

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    1. Hey Daniel!
      Thanks for your thoughts on this! On #3, I partly agree with you. I have had single parents working multiple jobs take the time to contact me to say they would love to attend and then explain the circumstances that won't allow it. I am MORE than happy to work with a parent that makes some kind of effort. I call those parents or email them with an outline of what I discussed at Back to School Night to keep them in the loop. However, most "no show" parents do not fall into this category. They just don't want to. As far as the teacher's effort on Back to School Night goes, I think teaching a full day and then staying at school until 8 o'clock at night is more than enough effort on the teacher's part. With conferences, parents are given many time slot options over many days. It's your kid, figure it out. Again, if a single parent is knocking themselves out working multiple jobs, I am happy to conference with them over the phone or have a conversation via e-mail. For #5, I can't speak about your specific situation with your own son. What I can say from my own experience is that too many parents throw up their hands and say "I don't know what to do" when it comes to their out of control 7 year old. That isn't ok. It's fine to not know in any given moment how to handle something your kid does that they shouldn't. It isn't ok to stay stuck. Read a parenting book. Take a parenting class. Ask another parent with well behaved kids what they would try and then follow through. Do something.

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    2. BUT!! to your point regarding #3...

      It takes communication and effort on the part of the parents to work with the teacher. And you're right, all too often it just doesn't happen.

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    3. Just read and commented on your blog posts about your son. Wow. Doesn't sound like fun times, but I am glad things seem to be getting better. Any plans to continue the series with an update on what's happening now?

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  6. LOVE THESE IDEAS! Of course there are exceptions in every case, but those could be written out in your new "law". When are you running for President? ;)

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    1. Hi there! Thank you. There are actually VERY few exceptions. It's funny how people focus on "yeah, but...". I am never running for President. You have to be very rich to do that. :)

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  7. Hmm, I'm curious to know what your thoughts are on teaching children with learning disabilities
    Katie~

    http://dysfunctionsjunction.com

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    1. Hi Katie,
      I'm a little confused. You'll have to give me a little more information because I am not seeing the connection between my post and teaching kiddos with learning disabilities.

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  8. I loved this post. It is the most refreshing view on parent responsibility I have read in a long time!
    Pamela

    First Class Teacher

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