Schools Assigning Homework for Parents — What Do You Think?

4 10 2007

The New York Times runs this story today and invites comment here:

Damion Frye, a ninth-grade English teacher at Montclair High School in Montclair, N.J., has asked the parents of his students to do homework. The ninth graders complete their assignments during class; the parents are supposed to write their responses on a blog Mr. Frye started online.

If the parents do not comply, Mr. Frye tells them, their child’s grade may suffer — a threat on which he has made good only once in the three years he has been making such assignments.

Some parents say they like the assignments because they can spark intellectual conversation with teenagers who are normally less than communicative. Other parents aren’t as happy about their homework.

What do you think of assigned homework for parents as a way to get them involved with their children’s education?

First thing I thought of was the notorious superintendent who just took over a New Orleans district, the guy who thinks school should replace family, you know, the one with the brilliant but extralegal idea to have teachers grade parents on how they dress and feed their kids, and then send home parent report cards. (See “Schools
Re-forming Into Substitute Families”

The next thing that came to mind was, if schools and teachers know so much about parenting and education support within the family, then why don’t they just teach it to the schoolkids in their classes now, so they grow up as a generation of great parents? Problem solved! (See NHEN’s parent involvement forums)

“We want to see a society which is composed of adults, people who can choose and act and change, who can hope, who can make a difference, who can be sorry when they fail, who can empathise, who can continue learning. It does not happen by accident.
[or by government-assigned homework and testing of the whole family!]
If we go on producing grown-up infants we can hardly wonder why different sorts of violence and dysfunction persist in our society.”

My last comment in that forum: “If all this is part of a larger trend, involved parents had better focus on more than choosing between school fixes or school avoidance.”