Texas Ed: Comments on Education from Texas

December 17, 2006

What’s the point?

Filed under: Education reform, Parental Involvement, Teacher issues — texased @ 8:31 pm

Generally, I think it’s a good thing to spell out expectations:

80(R) HB 380 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

Sec.�26.014.��EDUCATIONAL INVOLVEMENT AGREEMENT. (a) The agency shall adopt an educational involvement agreement form for use by school districts to be signed by a student, the student’s parent, each of the student’s teachers, and the principal of the student’s school. The agreement must state the respective responsibilities of the student, parent, teacher, and principal. A school district shall provide the agreement to each individual who is required to sign the agreement not later than the 14th day after the first day of instruction for a school year or the 14th day after the date a student enrolls in the school, as applicable. �A school district must provide a parent with a reasonable opportunity to sign the agreement.

However, after reading some of the following details such as:

80(R) HB 380 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

(b)��The educational involvement agreement must include descriptions of:
�������������(1)��the parent’s responsibilities regarding the student’s education, which may include:
�������������������(A)��reading to the student, if appropriate for the student’s grade or reading level;
�������������������(B)��reviewing and checking the student’s homework; and
�������������������(C)��contributing at least five hours of the parent’s time to the school each school year by: �������������������������(i)��attending school-related activities;
�������������������������(ii)��attending parent-teacher association meetings;
�������������������������(iii)��attending parent-teacher conferences;
�������������������������(iv)��volunteering at the school; or
�������������������������(v)��chaperoning school-sponsored events;

and the expectations of the teachers:

80(R) HB 380 – Introduced version – Bill Text:

(3)��the responsibility of each teacher and principal to:
�������������������(A)��provide each student with proper instruction, supervision, and interaction;
�������������������(B)��maximize the educational and social experience of each student;
�������������������(C)��perform professional responsibilities in a manner that is in the best interest of each student; and
�������������������(D)��be available to parents to discuss concerns.

I think it’s just a waste of paper as is. Why? First of all, who got decided on “five hours” for the parents? Why five, why not ten? And then who gets to decide that a teacher has “performed professional responsibilities in a manner that is in the best interest of each student?” While I think you can force parents to immunize their children before attending school, I don’t think you can mandate that they check their children’s homework.

Second, there is absolutely no mention of consequences or what should happen if one party fails to live up the agreement. Okay, for students, it’s fairly easy, fail them or expel them. But what are you going to do about the parents? Of course parents should be involved in their children’s education but how exactly are you going to force them to participate? What power are you going to give the state to make a person be an “involved” parent?

The bill doesn’t even address something as simple as if parents or students think that the teacher is not living up to his part of the contract, what should they do? I’m not talking about punishing the teachers. I’m talking about something along the lines of “the matter should be brought to the attention of the counselor or principal or special committee set up to address these issues.” By the way, did you notice how there’s nothing about the teachers getting the appropriate support from administration or adequate supplies to complete their duties?

This is basically a proclamation of what it means to be a “successful” parent, teacher, or student. I would imagine it’s not too terribly different from most school’s parent/teacher handbook. So what does this achieve by making it an “agreement” beside generating more meaningless paper and the opportunity for one of the signing parties to use it as a basis for a lawsuit?


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