Saturday, February 03, 2007

Teachers Punishing Parents?

A Texas lawmaker has come up with an interesting idea to maintain regular communication between parents and teachers: Fine the parents who skip their scheduled conferences with the teacher:
Playing hooky from a parent-teacher conference? You better have a good excuse.

A Houston-area legislator wants to subject parents to criminal charges for skipping a scheduled meeting with their child's teacher.

Rep. Wayne Smith, R-Baytown, said it is time for the state to crack down on Texans who are shirking their parental responsibilities by failing to meet with the teacher when their child is having academic or disciplinary problems.

"I don't know if it's been getting worse, but it's a problem right now," Mr. Smith said. "It's certainly worse than when I had kids in school."

Under the bill, parents who miss a scheduled conference with a teacher could be charged with a Class C misdemeanor and fined up to $500. Parents could avoid prosecution if they have a "reasonable excuse" for failing to show up. State education officials or school districts would probably be left to define what's reasonable but, for example, a medical emergency would probably suffice.

Mr. Smith said his goal is not to punish parents but to get them to show up for meetings so they can communicate face to face about their child.
But of course the end result would be to punish the parents. Is this a good idea?

As you know, I've ranted about irresponsible parents in a previous post, and I certainly agree that if the parents aren't setting the example, the kid won't have much of a chance to be successful. But I'm not sure that it's possible to legislate behavior like this; maybe the approach needs to be more educational and less punitive. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.

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