Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Given pause

...over this little tidbit:
I think fining and criminally prosecuting parents who don't show up for parent-teacher conferences is absurd, though it would offend me less at the very local level. But I do think this is a good example of how the state expands when the civil society contracts. When individuals stop acting responsibly, government feels the need to step in and pick up the slack. It's a small example of a very large point: the greatest invitation to statism is a society that won't take care of itself. Or as I put it here, pick up your own d*mn cr*p.
Emphasis added.



Anonymous luther said...

I was certain a Democrat(s) would be behind something absurd like this – but unbelievably this is being pushed by a Texas Republican – Rep. Wayne Smith.
I think encouraging parents to be engaged is a good thing – but miss a parent-teacher conference and get a $500 fine and a criminal record? It will be a very sad day if something like this ever becomes law.

I think Rep. Smith needs to admit he is a Communist at heart and not a Republican.

9:44 AM  
Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

“The people of Nebraska are for free silver and I am for free silver,” he proclaimed. “I will look up the arguments later.”

That quote (from William Jennings Bryan) is as damning an indictment of populism as I've ever read. Any stable democracy requires some undemocratic checks and balances - thankfully ours has some.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the criminal prosecution of parents missing their kids' conference with teacher is absurd too but for a different reason. The district I work in has an exorbinant truancy rate. Every program imaginable has been trotted out, with zero change. If parents don't make their kids go to school and really don't care, then why do they think missing a meeting for them will be a big deal...because, you can fine them til the cows come home but if they are poor (my district), if they are predominantly minorities (my district), then there are already obstacles - can't pay, no money, can't miss work or the race card will be played. And I don't know a school district anywhere that won't cave into either of those cries.

Basically, there are just too many parents who don't care - if you charge them money, if you take them to court, etc., etc.

I've often thought extracting community service was a far better option.

I'm cynical but then I've worked in a public school district for 10 years. Reality gets to you after a while.


10:37 PM  
Anonymous luther said...

To correct myself I really should have said Statist and not Communist.

Dana that is an interesting point that the people legislation like this targets might not care since the state would have no way of collecting money they don’t have. In general have you seen a relationship between income levels and whether parents attend parent-teacher conferences? You mentioned truancy but I don’t think this particular bill dealt with that issue – only with parents that skip parent-teacher conferences.

2:25 PM  
Blogger Mike in S.A. said...

I got sidetracked by that Bryan quote. As for fining and prosecuting parents who don't show up for parent-teacher conferences, I think that's a terrible idea. The best government is less government.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This particular bill didn't deal with truancy. I brought it up because in every district parents of truant stus are required to attend court hearings where they can also be monetarily fined. I sat in on a lot of hearings and 80% do not show up because they know there are no teeth to the system. Like most of these scenarios no one thinks it through - what happens if the parent can't pay? Are they willing to put them in jail for it? What happens to the kids then? Who is at fault? Did the schools fail them (because that is the where the blame will be placed)? etc.

The Texas law is aimed at parent-teacher conference and sadly most parents (yes, depending on the socio-economic demagraphic) don't want to know how their kid is doing, let alone find out what they SHOULD be doing to help them. Both issues are threatened with monetary fines. It just doesn't work because the system is not brave enough to actually follow through with community service, jail, wage garnishing, etc.

No district can or is willing to risk any retaliation by angry parents and thats just how it is these days.


7:38 PM  

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