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Musings of a C- Parent

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Several years ago, the superintendent of a school district in Pennsylvania, proposed that teachers issue report cards grading parents on how involved they are in their children's education. I think it's a great idea! What parents wouldn't want to know whether they're doing all they can to ensure their children's success?

Several years ago, the superintendent of a school district in Pennsylvania, proposed that teachers issue report cards grading parents on how involved they are in their children's education. I think it's a great idea! All the research shows that parent involvement has a profound effect on student achievement. And what parents wouldn't want to know whether they're doing all they can to ensure their children's success?

What working parent wouldn't want to know that good parents "volunteer by chaperoning a field trip, helping in the classroom, working on a school committee, helping with a school project, preparing refreshments for a school event, or other similar activities?"


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Linda Starr, a former teacher and the mother of four children, has been an education writer for nearly two decades. Starr is the curriculum and technology editor for Education World.

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What non-English speaking parent wouldn't want to know that good parents "regularly read the school newsletter?"

What single parent wouldn't want to know that good parents never fail to "monitor their child's homework?"

What uneducated parent wouldn't want to know that good parents are "knowledgeable about what information and skills their child should master at his/her grade level or in his/her major subject areas?"

What exhausted parent wouldn't want to know that good parents "take time to work with their child in volunteer projects?"

What frightened parent wouldn't want to know that good parents "initiate contact with their child's teacher or school administrator just to show their support?"

What overwhelmed parents struggling to simply love and support their children wouldn't want to know that their children's teachers thinks they're failing?

What parent who receives a report card wouldn't want to return the favor of helpful advice by issuing a teacher report card? In fact, I have one in mind.

Dear Teacher,
Research indicates that the quality of the teacher is the most important factor in determining a student's success in school. The following assessment tool is designed to rate your performance as our children's teacher. Please use these questions to identify some of the ways you can better help our children at school.

TEACHER REPORT CARD

1. Do parents have your current phone number and address?
2. Have you attended at least one PTA or PTO meeting this year?
3. Do you make yourself available in the evening for phone calls and conferences with working parents?
4. Have you contacted each parent at least once with positive news about their child?
5. Do you make parents feel welcome and comfortable in your classroom?
6. Do you regularly contribute to the school newsletter?
7. Do you make school notices available in the languages spoken in your students' homes?
8. Do you make parents aware of how their children can benefit from the extra services provided at your school?
9. Do you assign worthwhile homework, not just "busy work?"
10. Do you actually collect and correct completed homework?
11. Do you notify parents immediately when you notice a change in their child's behavior or academic efforts?
12. Do you maintain order and discipline so all students can work in a good learning environment?
13. Do you provide a classroom environment that makes children want to be there?
14. Do you treat all students with consideration and respect and expect them to treat one another in the same way?
15. Does your manner toward your students' parents convey respect and a mutual interest in their children's academic and social success?

10-15: Congratulations! You are a strong partner in our child's education!
6-10: You are making worthwhile contributions to our child's education, but you could do better.
0-5: Where did you get your teaching degree -- Matchbox U?

Many people opposed the plan to issue parent report cards. They said the practice would create hostility and widen the gap between home and school. I say poppycock! And I said it to every one of my kids' former teachers when I called to point out that they might have thought I was a C- parent, but somehow I managed to raise A+ kids. I thought they ought to know.