Monday, October 29, 2007

Busybody schools.

Connecticut School District Wants Report Cards for Parents
Parents in Connecticut might be the ones getting the report cards if a proposed plan makes the grade at a Manchester public school district.

Steven Edwards, a Republican member of the Manchester Board of Education who’s up for re-election Nov. 6, wants parents to be evaluated on a handful of what he says are objective measures — including whether their children have done the homework and eaten a good breakfast.

"I tried to design something modest [measuring] things that virtually everybody would agree parents should do to help their kids," Edwards said. "We don't have our staff making any subjective evaluations."

The idea has angered parents, and the local PTA vows to fight the plan.

"People are going to be extremely offended by it," said Jackie Madore, president of the Manchester Parent Teacher Association Town Council. "I don't feel the report cards on parental skills is the way to go. ... It's going to be the parents against the Board of Education, basically."

Edwards says parents aren't properly preparing their kids for school. He's proposed evaluations on whether parents get their children to class on time, ensure their kids have completed their homework each night and attend the twice-yearly parent-teacher conferences about the children’s report cards and academic progress.

The other two categories — which Edwards admitted are more a matter of interpretation — would give parents a positive or negative grade depending on whether their children seem to have been fed an adequate breakfast and are appropriately dressed for the weather.
“The issue of grading parents is very difficult,” said Vincent Mustaro of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education (CABE). “I would rather see local boards of education work with parents in terms of what their role is and assisting their child rather than grading them. I don’t know what that achieves.”

The Manchester school district is also against the idea.

"The way Mr. Edwards has presented it, I'm opposed to it," said Manchester superintendent Kathleen Ouellette. "There are other types of assessments at schools that are not as intrusive. There’s a lot we already do, anyway. This can be very intimidating and will probably anger some parents if it's not administered in a sensitive way."

Ouellette said she'd rather see a more positive parental outreach approach, one that doesn't alienate already over-stressed mothers and fathers.
Half of the elementary schools are Title I, meaning they're funded by the government and serve a lower socio-economic area. Many of the kids are from single-parent households or homes where both parents have to work long hours to make ends meet, according to Madore.

She adds that for some parents, time and transportation restrictions would affect whether they get good scores on their report cards. She said she doesn't think that's fair and plans to inform parents of the proposal by word of mouth — then devise a plan of action to quash it once the new board is installed.

"I'd be ticked," Madore said. "They're telling you what to do with your kid."

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