Florida Considering Having Their Public Schools Evaluate Parents

Schools which have had difficulty evaluating and getting rid of poor teacher will be responsible for evaluating parent involvement if a bill before the Florida House and Florida Senate is passed this year.

State Representative Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) introduced similar legislation last year which failed.  She reintroduced the bill called “Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools.”  In the Florida House it’s file number is HB 543 and an identical bill has been filed in the Florida Senate – SB 944.

This bill requires public K-5 teachers in the state of Florida to “evaluate the parental involvement as satisfactory, needs improvement or unsatisfactory on each of the following criteria as defined in district school board policy.”

  • The frequency of the student’s unexcused absence and unexcused tardiness.
  • Parental response to requests for conferences or communication.
  • Parental submission of complete and correct information, including, but not limited to, emergency-contact information; student-immunization records; and pertinent parental-contact information, which shall be on file and updated if changes occur during the school year.

A parental-involvement evaluation would then be sent along with the student assessment to the home which would indicate that the parent “needs improvement” when two or more of the following occur in a quarter:

  • The student has five or more unexcused absences.
  • The student has 10 or more instances of unexcused tardiness.
  • Five or more requests for communication between the teacher and the parent are made with no communication occurring.
  • The emergency-contact information provided by the parent is determined to be incomplete or incorrect.

Every school year data from these evaluations would be collected and then sent to the Florida Department of Education who then completes a report to be given to the Governor, the President of the Florida Senate, and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

This bill is a flagrant intrusion into parental privacy.  While yes I understand some parents do a poor job of being involved in their child’s education this is the wrong solution.  A big brother response to the problem of little parent involvement is not one that can be best addressed by government.  An elementary school teacher (and I have visions of some 22-23-year old recent college grad doing this) is certainly not the person to make these assessments.  Also Representative Stargel seems to believe that teachers don’t already have enough to do and she wants to add to their plate.

Then again as a champion of local control, this looks like another example of a state foisting an unfunded mandate onto the local school districts.  The content of the bill makes it even worse.

Update: I had an email from Sandra Brevard, an education activist I know, forwarded to me.  She wrote:

The legislative analysis indicates that the cost impact on schools is “indeterminate.” It states there will be costs to publish the handbook, grade, and collect/report data.

The legislative analysis says the “evaluation data” will become a part of the student’s permanent record and be confidential following FERPA guidelines.

You can read the bill yourself below:

Florida HB 543 – Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools