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Thursday, February 01, 2007

A modest proposal

An article in the paper yesterday talked about a proposed bill that would punish parents who don't show up for parent-teacher conference night.

Wayne Smith, a congressman from the Houston-area, wants to submit legislation that will charge parents with a Class C misdemeanor and a $500 fine if they miss a scheduled meeting with their child's teacher. The article says:

“The bill, which is expected to be considered in the House Public Education
Committee… specifies that the parent has to receive written notice by certified
mail, listing at least three proposed dates for the parent-teacher
conference. A parent who ignores the notice or schedules a meeting but
fails to attend would face charges -- unless there was a valid reason for not
showing up.”

Valid reasons could include emergency quadruple-bypass, transfer to Iraq, or "Twilight Zone-athon Day on the sci-fi channel.”

I ask you -- how freakin’ great is this proposal? And my next question -- how freakin’ high are the odds that anything like this will EVER be passed??? I mean, come on, in a society where someone can spill hot coffee in their own lap and then sue the restaurant for millions of dollars; in a society where people are perfectly happy to ignore the Surgeon General's warning while they slowly poison themselves, but then blame the tobacco industry for killing them; in a society where Terrell Owens is viewed as anything other than a complete nitwit… Does anyone outside of a mental institution actually believe for a second that this same society would allow anyone to impose and enforce responsibility on them??

But you know, on the off chance that this pipe dream is actually realized, and the bill is posted through, I would like to suggest a rider. Choose some percentage of the imposed parental fine, and give it to the teacher who was stood up. If I had even half of a percent of $500 for every time I've had a parent no-show, I'd be rich! And I've only been teaching for four years!

And hey, if this thing should pass, let's not stop there. How about fines for parents who consistently bring their kids to school late? Misdemeanors for parents who register phone numbers that don't work? Jail time for parents who let their kids play video games without doing their homework?


Mike in Texas said...

How about a fine for parents who drive 40K pickup trucks while their kids are on free or reduced lunch?

Amerloc said...

Mike, this is Texas. That pickup is more important than food.

Anonymous said...

How about a fine for parents who buy their kids an X-box 360 and a Wii and several pairs of $100+ shoes but won't pay $3.00 for a trip to the art museum?

CaliforniaTeacherGuy said...

I don't know about fines for parents who bring their kids to school late all the time, but at the very least the parents should have to serve the detention meted out to tardy students at our school. Hey, if the kid lives far away and depends on the parent for a ride to school, then the late parent should take the late penalty.

Anonymous said...

Nothing spells "successful parent-teacher conference" more than dragging a pissed-off parent in under threat of fines, just to tell them that junior is flunking and misbehaving.


IMC Guy said...

With conferences at my school last week and this, I think this article is hilarious. Of course it's not really going to happen, but for someone to actually propose this legislation is hilarious.

Spanky said...

Speaking of pissed off, you guys and gals have my vote on fining the no show parents as long as there is an addendum regarding giving me (an on-time parent) money every time a teacher is running late on my appointed P/T meeting. Guess the world isn't perfect, eh?

Mister Teacher said...

Hold on there, Spanky. Now you're just talking crazy...

Ellen K said...

I understand the emotions behind it, but this bill will never see the light of day. I am as frazzled and frustrated as every other teacher. I end up staying for a 13 hour day twice a year for Meet the Teacher and Open House nights, often only to entertain an empty classroom. Heck, parents can barely be bothered to come to ARD's for their special education kids. And then they only come so they can get something for free. What I find amusing is the number of "caring parents" who claimed to be working so hard that they didn't have time to meet with a teacher for 20 minutes twice a year. Give me a king-sized break. There may be a few exceptions, but I guarantee that for every viable excused absence from meetings, there are ten others who are spending time at the golf course, at the club, at the mall or simply at home blitzed out of their minds watching TV. And these are the people who say we're not doing enough as teachers. Look in the mirror.

elle mignon said...

ellen k, you are so on it! I get so tired of all the excuses, the "I am a single parent" line, that I could be rich if I had a nickel or dime every time I heard that! Like I tell my students, "An excuse is an excuse, no matter how good it may be." I want to interrupt them and tell them how many single parents have raised successful children. The problems of these parents are echoed in their children: they don't want to sacrifice. They don't want to give up their "freedom" during the evening and weekends to worry about being a parent. They try to compensate for their lack of real parenting by buying their children anything and everything. And for those who are on welfare and get free and reduced lunch for their students? How is it that these kids always have the latest in clothes and technology? And if they were saavy enough to get them without paying or at reduced prices, why can't they apply this same zeal when it comes to: finding money to replace lost books; go on a school field trip; pay $3 for a locker; frequently restock student supplies and other things needed for projects. The list is endless, and so are my complaints, so I will end while I can. But in parting I must say that no matter how much I am frustrated by this institution known as "education", I still don't want to be anything else in the world but an educator- the problem is, standardized "education" has blocked out what that used to mean.