Louisiana Legislator Introduces Bill to Grade Parents

By Michele Molnar — March 28, 2012 2 min read
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State Rep. Joe Harrison, in Louisiana, has decided it’s time to get out the red pencil and begin grading parents.

A bill he introduced in the Louisiana legislature, House Bill 808, provides for a program to grade parents on their required participation in the educational progress of their children. The bill, now in the House Education Committee, is still awaiting a hearing.

K-12 Parents and the Public reached out to Harrison, and we haven’t heard back yet. But here’s how he expresses himself on his website about his motivation for the legislation: “I have just about had enough of the blame being laid at the feet of our teachers for every possible social ill and educational failure we can imagine. In this bill I propose directing the focus for responsibility back where it belongs, with the families.”

“While many families are dedicated and willing participants in the education of their children, far too many do the bare minimum or nothing at all to participate in their child’s education,” he continued.

The language in the bill “requires the State Board of Elementary and Secondary Education to develop, adopt, and provide for the implementation of a program for grading parents and guardians on their participation in the education of their children.”

As paraphrased on Harrison’s website, parents or guardians would bear responsibility for their child’s:

• Homework completion, as verified by a parent’s signature;
• Essential school materials, such as paper and pencils;
• Following of the school’s rules of discipline;
• Following of school dress codes, and
• Meeting attendance requirements.

Parents/guardians also would be expected to attend scheduled parent-teacher meetings.

“This bill makes clear that educational outcomes are every bit the responsibility of the family as they are the school,” wrote Harrison, a businessman whose wife is an Assumption Parish school principal.

The Louisiana Parent-Teacher Association is watching this legislation closely, says C.H. “Sonny” Savoie, the legislative chair for the state PTA.

“I would love to get more parental support. The data’s out there: The more parents get involved in education, the better,” Savoie said. “You need the family engagement piece in place to make education work. Without that, it’s a struggle.”

But he questioned whether low grades would be a motivator for parents to improve, or whether a disappointing grade might have the opposite effect. “One disgruntled parent who says, ‘I didn’t get the grade I should have got’” could be problematic, he said.

“You have to think about principals doing this. With all the mandates from the federal and state level, I don’t know where principals are going to have time to grade every parent who walks into the school system. And if a parent doesn’t like the grade you gave them, you’ve created a line in the sand,” he said.

A version of this news article first appeared in the K-12 Parents and the Public blog.