Florida lawmaker wants teachers to grade parents
If an elementary school teacher graded you on your involvement in your child's education, what kind of a grade would you get?
Should your kid's first-grade teacher be grading you in the first place?
If Florida state Rep. Kelli Stargel's bill becomes law, public school
teachers will be required to grade the parents of students in
kindergarten through the third grade.
The parents' grades of "satisfactory," "unsatisfactory" or "needs improvement" would be added to their children's report card.
Stargel, a Republican who sits on several education legislative
committees, says that parental involvement is key to educating children
for years to come.
As the mother of five, Stargel says, she understands the importance of her role in educating her children.
"I think a lot of parents understand that is something that is
critical," she said. "On the other hand, you have some parents that
don't realize they are not providing the needs."
Florida lawmakers have spent years overhauling the public school system
to make schools and their teachers accountable for student achievements.
Many parents and teachers have not welcomed the changes. In the late
1990s, the state began the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test, or
FCAT, in which a school would be graded based on the overall score of
From the beginning, proponents of the FCAT wanted schools held
accountable for their students' grades through standardized testing.
Critics contend that teachers are forced to spend too much time preparing students for the test instead of actually teaching.
Last year, Gov. Charlie Crist vetoed a bill that tied a teacher's pay to
his or her students' achievement. Another version of the bill is
expected to pass this year under new Gov. Rick Scott.
"We have student accountability, we have teacher accountability, and we
have administration accountability," Stargel said. "This was the missing
link, which was, look at the parent and making sure the parents are
Veita Stephens, an academic intervention facilitator for Polk County Public Schools, called the proposal a "unique notion."
"The thought has never entered my mind to grade a parent," she said.
Teachers agree that parental involvement is crucial to a child's
education. But some teachers say that grading the parents is not the
Sharon Francis, who teaches first grade in the small central Florida
city of Winter Haven, is not sure that grading parents will work.
"I think those parents that are not going to show up or not do
anything," said Francis, who teaches students from primarily poor homes,
"it's not going to faze them, whether you put 'unsatisfactory.' "
The grading system is based on three criteria that Stargel wrote in the legislation:
• A child should be at school on time, prepared to learn after a good night's sleep, and have eaten a meal.
• A child should have the homework done and prepared for examinations.
• There should be regular communication between the parent and teacher.
"Those three things are key to a quality education," Stargel said.
Steve Perry, a CNN education contributor and founder of Capital
Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut, says he couldn't
Perry insists that a good education is based on what a child learns in
the classroom and not what a parent might know that could help their
"There is nothing in any teacher's training that would put them in a
position to be able to effectively judge the parenting of one their
student's parents," Perry argued. "If getting a bad grade was the
impetus for people doing things right, then I would have an entire
school of kids getting A's."
Kindergarten teacher Theresa Hill of Snively Elementary School in Winter Haven disagrees.
"This is the real world. You don't always get a superior rating if
you're not doing a superior job. That's life," she said. "We grade our
children based on their performance. Why should the parents be any
Some parents said they laughed out loud after hearing about the proposed legislation.
On the sidelines of his son's soccer practice in Winter Park, J.C. Adams said he thought it was an interesting proposal.
"It could have some validity. We could try it and see how that might work out for everyone," he said.
Kim Granger, who has two daughters -- one in high school and the other a
mother of three young children -- welcomed the idea of being graded on
her parental skills.
"I wouldn't mind that at all. I would get a good grade," she said. "If
you're more involved with your children when they're littler, when they
grow older, they're more stable, more willing to sit down and do the
Stargel acknowledges that not everyone agrees with her legislation,
which she said is still under revision. The bill was not intended to
tell parents how to raise their kids, she says.
"We want to make sure parents are involved in the education of their children," Stargel said.
Francis Monteiro agrees that parents like him appreciate feedback from
their children's teachers, but he says requiring teachers to grade
parents is not the answer.
"Bottom line: Everyone wants the best for their kids," he said.