Anyone concerned about the growing trend of public school officials intruding on the private lives of their students will want to closely watch what’s happening in Mississippi. This week, a piece of legislation known as the Parent Involvement and Accountability Act passed the state’s House of Representatives, putting it on the fast track to becoming law. While many aspects of the bill are sensible and uncontroversial, there is an odd bit of business in there that should concern everyone wary about government intrusion, even on the local level.
The bill, aimed at any Mississippi public schools that have a rating of C or lower, would mandate those schools to add a new section to student report cards. That section would be put aside for the teacher to actually grade the parents on their involvement in the educational process. Teachers will be expected to grade parents on how quickly they respond to school communication, how well they are facilitating their child’s homework completion, and their child’s attendance.
Elsewhere in the bill, the state aims to force parents in struggling schools to attend “at least one supportive function for the school” each year.
The bill passed the House 75-43. It is now on its way to the state Senate and could soon be signed into law. If that happens, many other states will be watching and considering similar measures.
Now, most teachers will agree that parental involvement is crucial when it comes to helping a student succeed. A child that comes from a family that places little importance on academic achievement is unlikely to arouse their own internal motivations. That said, these ideas are off the wall, offensive, and a little bit frightening.
First, let’s assume that even if the bill becomes law, there will be no legal mechanism for enforcement. A teacher can give a parent straight F’s, but it’s not like the police are going to come arrest them or put them in detention. So this is just forcing teachers to shame parents, and that’s unlikely to improve the relationship between the two. Very few adults will react to this with anything other than rage.
This is another unfortunate step on a worrisome path towards a future where government usurps the authority of the parent. It’s easy to imagine some politician five years down the line looking at all of these bad parent grades and using it as a justification for public boarding schools, a proposal Obama’s former Education Secretary already endorsed. These Democrats have spent fifty years destroying the American family structure, and the results are in. Instead of admitting their failure, they’re now going to use it as an excuse to broaden their power.