I just read this article in the Detroit News. Wayne County Prosecutor wants to put a law on the books to force jail time on parents that do not attend Parent/Teacher conferences. The City of Detroit is in Wayne County and there are serious problems with the school system there and other suburbs. Here are my thoughts on jail time for no show parents. Please feel free to share yours in the comment section of the post.
I'm blessed to teach in a school district where parent involvement is high. One of the biggest complaints is that parents are too involved, if that's possible. Despite the high involvement of parents at my school, I can't nail down the parents I need to talk to. The students who are struggling or are behaving poorly have parents that refuse to meet or stay in communication. It's frustrating when you want to reach out to students and there is little to no support at home.
We have one Back to School Night in October at the High School. This is the only set time for parents to come by at night and go through their student's schedule and meet their teachers. We are given 17 minutes to explain the class, tell a joke and ensure that their children are safe in our hands. Sadly, I never get to meet the parents that I need to. The parents I have already sent emails to asking for support or information. I understand that everyone has different problems and coming to school to talk to a teacher might not high on their "to do" list, but that involvement can do wonders for a student.
A part of me says yes, jail time for parents that skip out on teacher meetings. Let's threaten them with jail time and force them to be involved in their kid's education. On top of that, let's fine those parents and send that money directly to the teachers they skip out on to make up for the lost time. That is a great way to get teachers to want to teach in struggling schools. Think of the revenue stream that could be created from delinquent parents. Steak dinners for all teachers!
I apologize for the biting sarcasm, but the idea is nice, but would not be helpful. Have we really come to the point where we need to mandate that parents take an interest in the education of their children? I realize that my frustration will continue as I teach students that have parents that don't give a damn. All that forces me to do is get more creative in reaching out to those students to hopefully stop the cycle. Nobody would every recommend fear and intimidation as the why to educate students, so why should we treat parents the same way? We need to get to the root of the problem as to why parents are disinterested. Is it because they lack an education as well? Is it because they work 3 jobs and are doing the best that they can? Is it because they are still kids themselves? Yes, there are even parents that just flat out don't give a damn. Whatever those reasons are, the teacher's job is to find a way to reach out to those students and make a difference because a teacher is all they have.
Ask yourself this question, do you want to meet with a parent that is being forced to sit across the table from you by a judge? Neither do I.