A new Mississippi bill is seeking to increase parental involvement in schools by requiring teachers to evaluate parents and give them each a grade.
House Bill 4, also known as the Parent Involvement and Accountability Act, would put a parent section on each child’s report card. Parents would receive grades in a number of areas, including responsiveness to communication with teachers, how well their child completes homework assignments or is prepared for exams, and the number of times their child is absent or late to school.
Parents would receive a rating of “satisfactory,” “in need of improvement,” or “unsatisfactory” based on their level of involvement.
In addition, the legislation drafted by state representative Gregory Holloway would require any school district with a grade of C or below to give mandatory homework to all students, in addition to daily writing assignments and reading at least one book per month, writes Arvin Matthew Paculaba for The Parent Herald. These schools would also need to teach all students proper manuscript and cursive handwriting.
Students who attend these schools would be required to wear uniforms while teachers adhere to strict dress codes. Parents would be required to participate in at least one school function such as holding a position on the Parent Teacher Association, working at concession stands during sporting events, or helping students at bus stops.
Two parent-teacher conferences would be implemented for each nine-week term for students who do not perform up to grade level requirements by the middle of the term.
With 88 of the 151 school districts in the state scoring a C or below in the MDE’s annual assessment of districts and individual schools in 2014, much of the state would be required to follow these additional rules, writes Steve Wilson for Mississippi Watchdog.
According to co-author Kabir Karriem, parental involvement is important, especially for districts who have low levels of performance such as Columbus. He said a bill should not have to be created in order to get parents involved. However, it is necessary in schools that have received a C, D, or F, where parental involvement is the first item needed in order to increase achievement.
However, not everyone believes the bill to be a positive idea. Mary Clare Reim, an education researcher at the Heritage Foundation, argued that it actually contradicts the idea of parental involvement.
“My initial reaction is, this is absurd. The concept that parents should be graded by teachers on their involvement is a reversal of what the education system should look like,” she said. “Parents should be grading teachers on their performance. Putting grades on parental involvement from the top down is not the way this should work.”
While Lowndes County School District Superintendent Lynn Wright agrees that more parental involvement is needed, he does not believe giving parents a grade is the best way to go about getting it, saying it’s hard to grade “great parents who may turn out wrong.”
The measure passed in the House by a 75-43 vote. A reverse repealer is included in the bill, forcing the bill into a conference committee with the Senate. This tactic is used by lawmakers in an effort to keep a bill alive past the deadline for legislative action.