Go Directly to Jail! Do Not Pass Go.

So, I had parent/teacher conferences for my son last night. Our local paper recently ran an article on the topic of parent/teacher conferences which is apparently receiving national attention.

It seems a local prosecutor is requesting a law mandating jail time for parents who skip parent/teacher conferences. Her proposed plan requires parents to attend at least one conference per year, or spend three days in jail. If it passes, this law would be the first of its kind in the nation.


I've never missed a single parent/teacher conference for either of my kids, but I'm thinking: Really? Will facing jail time make parents who aren't interested in how their children are performing academically suddenly care? I doubt it.

My initial thought was, what the heck are single working parents supposed to do?! But the plan does make allowances for parents of students who are "excelling" as well as for those parents who have health issues, or are "actively engaged" with teachers via another route such as phone calls or e-mails. The prosecutor is pushing this plan locally, but ideally wants to make the mandate state wide.

Supporters of her plan claim that parents who aren't involved in their children's education are guilty of child abuse. While the opposition calls the idea "dumb" and points out that jail time won't make a difference to parents who don't care anyway.

You can read the online article here: The Detroit News

So what do you think: Absurd idea? Or the kick in the pants some parents may need to get involved?

Image by: S. Baker


Melanie said...

I think it's dumb. I don't see any parent suddenly getting more involved just because they're threatened with jail. How about making it easier on the parents? Like evening appointments, childcare (why not tap some high school students and have them watch the kids for the 10 - 15 min the conferences take?) Or require teachers to regularly send home progress reports (my kids bring home weekly reports that I have to sign) If the parents don't sign them for 2 weeks, then pick up the phone and CALL them. Jail is ridiculous.

Kristine said...

This is ridiculous. Ironically, another writer friend just posted about how they are banning Happy Meals in San Francisco! This country has gone mad...it is a bad precedent when the government starts to mandate (non-dangerous) parenting...you are solely responsible, not the government. Yowza!

Heidi Willis said...

You're right.. you can force certain actions on people, but you can't force them to care. Do we start legislating that parents are required to spend an hour doing homework with kids each night? That they are required to sign homework assignments each night? Can they go to jail if their child doesn't achieve at his highest?

Our school actually discourages parents from coming in for conferences unless something is wrong. They just have too many kids to deal with to see every parent on conference days.

Can we mandate jail time for teachers if they don't email back when we have a concern? Although this frustrates me to no end, I'd never consider jail an appropriate response. Also, don't we have a lack of jail space in this country? Isn't that why Lindsay Lohan only spent a few days there instead of her whole sentence?

This is crazy stuff.

Sara A Broers said...

I don't understand how a parent can never find time to attend a parent/teacher conference. Teachers are more than willing to meet with parents at another time, other than the school's set time/date. Parents need to step up and take responsibility for their kids. I don't know that jail is necessary, but it might wake some of these people up! Look at the mess our schools are in. I do not live in this school district, but find it sad that here in the Mid-West (Iowa) our local school district has less than 200 families attend Back to School Night at our Public High School~ When there's more than 1300 students. Maybe something as harsh as this will wake some people up!

Annette Piper said...

I think that's going a bit overboard. This won't mean parents who currently don't care, will start too. Is the world going completely mad?

Ivy said...

Wow, that's a bit overboard. Although I'm sure the heart of the issue is pure. Parents do need to care, but why not go the route of shared homework (homework that the parent needs to help with or at least sign to show they've looked at it).

And I agree, what are single multi-job parents supposed to do. Some parents are actively engaged in keeping food on the table and roof over the family's heads.