One school district in Pennsylvania has come up with a unique idea that has received mixed reactions. The district wants to give parental report cards as a way of evaluating the parents' participation in their child's school activities. Parents would be graded on their attendance at parent-teacher conferences, whether they return papers they have to sign and whether the child comes to school healthy and properly dressed.
I have mixed feelings on the concept myself. In a perfect world, report cards for parents sound like a good idea. Alas, we live in a world less than perfect and some working parents simply are unable to have as much involvement as others. Areas such as signing papers and assuring that the kids are properly clothed might be easier to accomplish. But on the whole, I give the idea a "C."
It seems to me that a more pressing issue (and a more difficult one) is the growing trend in some minority cultures against school achievement. Reports clearly indicate that in some neighborhoods, kids frown on overachieving students. It's not "cool" in some areas to make good grades in school. It's a sad form of peer pressure that is exerted in growing volumes.
There remains a lively debate in this country over student achievement which has shown a steady decline in recent years. The solutions are as illusive as anything faced by educators in decades. An examination of recent test results from the Sikeston district shows an alarming trend of declining achievement. The gap between minority achievement and the student body as a whole is a source of great concern.
Finger-pointing is a popular sport in our society. But the easy answers don't fit this situation. Other than a lack of parental involvement and a lack of emphasis on learning, there is no answer for the gap in achievement here or elsewhere.
If that is true, then parental report cards could serve a purpose. I, for one, believe the problem is much deeper than we're willing to explore. Yet until we find the core of the problem, educational gaps will continue. Those gaps will carry-over to society and we'll find ourselves 50 years from now no closer to the answer than we are today.