Going Boldly

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/opinion/21friedman.html?_r=1&src=me&ref=homepage

If Mr. Friedman were here in  CA where I reside, I would find him to shake his hand and hug him for saying what ‘needed to be said’. Since Mr. Friedman is approximately 3 K miles away, I will thank him by recognizing the fine writing he did in his op ed piece for The New York Times.

I know I am not the first nor the only person to acknowledge the significance of parents being involved in raising and educating a child, however, I may be the only person to suggest some significant monetary strings attached to teaching to deal with absentee parents.  Absentee parenting is a great deal like absentee home owners who ‘rent’ out a property and don’t care too much about the neighborhood as the landlord does not ‘live’ there.

Bang for the buck, the most difficult job a teacher has is chasing around after parents for purposes of documentation and follow through when kids do not do well academically or socially/emotionally at school.  This is not to say it is the worst part of our job as sometimes these moments of contact make the largest impact, rather, it is time consuming beyond belief and often gut wrenching.  Aside from being a police officer or fireman calling to tell a parent something happened to their child, teachers often have to make a call with unsettling news and it is not something where we are able to hide behind the great people at the ER.  Teachers have no where to hide as we are held accountable for any and all problems related to a student.

To this point, and since the ante is up to ‘grade’ teachers based on student performance, I suggest that teachers be paid an additional $1,000.00 per child/year when the parents are not engaged 90% of the time.  How to measure 90% parental engagement – easy!  A teacher or teachers can use GradePro (or any similar program) to set up ‘assignments’ for parents/families for the school year. When parents show up and take action, they obtain a ‘grade’ or +.  Over the course of time, they must maintain a 90% or check in with the principal if they can not so they can obtain resources and there is adequate documentation as to why their child would not be performing as well.

While on the front end it may seem like a paperwork nightmare, it really is not since we live in the electronic age. It is merely entering data, which teachers do regularly. We keep lists of who shows up for parent conferences and who signs agenda books and which students have permission slips, the difference would be this is a formal ‘contractural’ affair and if parents can not do their JOB as parents, the teacher is reimbursed for the excessive work it takes to keep track of the student who is not successful.  In a class of 30-35 students, at most there would be half the class without active parental engagement so teachers would earn $15-20 K more a year, which, by all that I have seen is approximately what school districts are willing to pay out for better teachers. 

It is taxpayer money which funds public schools so let parents actually SEE where the money goes when they decide not to be involved.  I believe Grade Pro could even be imported in some way to show pie charts or other graphs.

Holding teachers accountable is fine if, as Mr. Friedman states, we hold parents accountable. There are ways to do this task even though it may at first seem daunting. It certainly has to  be easier than the phone calls/paperwork home regarding missing or poorly done assignments and low grades.

 Next order of business:  Figure out how to get President Obama, Mr. Duncan and Mr. Gates to read this blog!

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