"I know no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. This is the true corrective of abuses of constitutional power." - Thomas Jefferson 1820

"There is a growing technology of testing that permits us now to do in nanoseconds things that we shouldn't be doing at all." - Dr. Gerald Bracey author of Rotten Apples in Education

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Should Parents be the Target Group for Polar Bracelets? Forget the Students, It's the Parents who Need to be Tracked.

Keep your eyes looking southward for educational reforms heading Missouri's way.  Many of the reforms being instituted in Florida are being brought up via bills in our legislature such as the expansion of charter schools, virtual schools, tax credits, etc.  

Will Missouri see a parental bill here that is being introduced in Florida grading parental accountability for their children in public schools?  Here's a recap of Florida HB543 relating to parental involvement and accountability in public schools:

HB 543: Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools


Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools; Specifies purpose to provide information & tools to parents of preK-5 students & to set minimum standards for parental involvement; specifies causes for student underachievement; requires prek-5 teachers to evaluate parental involvement & send evaluation to parents under certain circumstances; requires dispute process; requires certain reporting. 

Here's a bit of history on this bill from a Florida educational activist who has been following Florida education for the last several years:

This bill was introduced last session and failed. The bill requires schools to provide a handbook, get a signature and receipt, issue grades on parents quarterly, and report the "evaluation data" to the FL DOE. The data will also go to the Governor and legislature.

The legislative analysis indicates that the cost impact on schools is "indeterminate." It states there will be costs to publish the handbook, grade, and collect/report data.

The legislative analysis says the "evaluation data" will become a part of the student's permanent record and be confidential following FERPA guidelines.

So now parents (move over, teachers) are held accountable via data for student achievement or lack thereof?  Parents who are utilizing a public service to benefit their children would now be mandated to participate in an accountability exercise themselves.   The data will be entered into the child's record and promised confidentiality even as these records are shared with various federal agencies and private research entities.

On its face, it sounds fabulous!  Get those parents involved!  Get them to CARE about their child's education.  Get parents to care by mandating parental behavior.  

Do you see the fallacy in that last sentence?  The government or anyone cannot mandate CARING for any human being.  Either a parent is going to be a committed parent, or not.  And whose definition of caring is the legislature going to ascribe to? 
  • By signing forms?  
  • By showing up to conferences?  
  • By requiring reading to children at home?  
  • By feeding them the right foods determined by the government?
  • By volunteering in the schools? 
  • By agreeing with all the teachings from the school, including a national sex ed curriculum? 
The bill is vague in setting specifications. This wording is particularly intriguing... specifies causes for student underachievementIn theory, a kindergarten teacher can determine why a child is failing, and it may not be because of faulty teaching, or curriculum or that the school is not fulfilling the needs of the child; it could quite possibly be because the parents are not deemed to be appropriate for the child's achievement by the kindergarten teacher.

If this bill in Florida passes, not only will a public school have the access to you and your child's personal data to share with various federal agencies and private organizations without your active permission, you, as a parent will have to "pass the test" crafted by the state to determine if you are a "good" parent or a "bad" parent.

Watch for this bill to be introduced at some point in Missouri.  California and Alaska have laws fining parents if children are in gangs or have excessive absences.  There is a bill pending in South Carolina requiring parents to volunteer in their school.

Maybe the states and districts will jump on the bandwagon for the Polar monitors after all for the parents to wear. It would help if the polar bracelet had a webcam on it so you document what the parents are doing at home to ensure a child's success.  Think of it as reality television.  Now the school can document what a parent is providing the child...or not providing the child.  That could be rather subjective, right?  It is correct that much of the problem starts in the home, but there are other issues, like providing intact families....but the government can't mandate that either...yet. 


1 comment:

  1. Florida has come to the same conclusion as MO, but is pursuing a different means to the same end. The end is having parents support, nay even push, their kids education. FL is going to try legislating that they do this. MO is going to abandon the public school system and allow charters and private schools to do this. Both states will still have to figure out what, if anything, they are going to do with the kids of parents who just don't care. StudentsFirst, TFA or one of these other brain trusts should be coming up with a program for Those kids.


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