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Parents Punished for Educational Under-Involvement?


New laws being passed across the country are taking aim at truant students’ parents, with fines and criminal charges among the penalties.

Florida is one state looking to hold parents more accountable for their child's performance in school.

Alaska and California recently passed laws allowing parents to be fined or brought up on charges if their children repeatedly miss school for no good reason. Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would have teachers give parents a report card.

These political tactics have been put into place to, as some lawmakers have put it, hold parents accountable for their roles in their children’s education. Lisa Belkin of the The New York Times cited the source of this type of legislation as being teachers tired of bearing the brunt of the blame for failing students.Belkin writes:

“Teachers are fed up with being blamed for the failures of American education, and legislators are starting to hear them. A spate of bills introduced in various states now takes aim squarely at the parents. If you think you can legislate teaching, the notion goes, why not try legislating parenting?

It is a complicated idea, taking on the controversial question of whether parents, teachers or children are most to blame when a child fails to learn.

But the thinking goes like this: If you look at schools that ‘work,’ as measured by test scores and graduation rates, they all have involved (overinvolved?) parents, who are on top of their children’s homework, in contact with their children’s teachers, and invested in their children’s futures. So just require the same of parents in schools that don’t work, and the problem is solved (or, at least, dented), right?”

The Florida parental report card plan has likewise sparked debate. NBC’s Rehema Ellis wonders what kind of report card she’d receive, despite being a very involved parent.

“…Based on my involvement in my son's school life, I think I'd get a pretty good parent report card. Still, I got to thinking: What kind of grade would I get if I missed a few school notices or didn't check all of his homework? It could happen, because as we all know, parenting isn't easy. Parents, especially those who work outside of the home, have long days on the job, often exhausting commutes, and frequent challenges to keep the house in order AND keep an eye on what's happening in their child's school,” Ellis wrote for

While no one is claiming these efforts will fix what’s broken with America’s educational system, there remain pockets of support for some type of parental accountability measure.

Article by Jason Tomaszewski, EducationWorld Associate Editor
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