You wake up every morning at 4:30 am. Creeping quietly through your small, leaky two bedroom apartment, you put together lunches for your two children, girl child, age six and male boy kid, age 8, both students at the same central Florida elementary school. Packing them into the family hand me down station wagon which now runs solely on your prayers that today isn’t the day it breaks down, you hurry them to Humid Elder Gator Elementary (Go Fighting Sweat!) just in time for them to participate in the free breakfast program for low-income families (assuming those even exist any more) and rush off to your first job of the day.
After putting in your eight hours washing dishes at Admiral Tasty’s Sea Food Eatery (where Admiral Tasty likes his fish like he likes his women, battered!) you rush back to Humid Elder Gator (Sweat it out! Sweat it out! WAAAY OUT!) to be just in time for your kids to have only had to wait a little over a half hour after their last class in the principal’s office for your arrival. Absorbing a disdainful look of contempt you then hurry your family to your second job, a four hour shift at the snack bar in Splitz Lanes Bowling Center (home of the “Splitz Coup”: convert any split and you get a 25 cents off coupon for a Junior Banana Split at Lickity Splitz, the ice creamery attached to the arcade) which sits conveniently only two counties away. The kids keep themselves entertained and maybe do some homework in the daycare center next to the pro shop while you try not to suffocate on the shoe spray fumes from the up wind front desk.
Sneaking a couple of hot dogs that’ve been spinning on the rollers since before you came in for your shift and a rubbery soft pretzel for dinner on the road you haul the kids back home just in time to put them to bed and collapse into yours, all ready to get right back to it again tomorrow morning, a sweet, luxurious six whole hours from now.
And if you’re lucky, your kids’ might bring home a “needs improvement” parent grade from their teacher on their next report card.
Right now, on it’s way through the Florida legislature is a bill that may require public school teachers to grade parents of Kindergarten through third grade students, adding a parent’s grade of “satisfactory”, “unsatisfactory” or “needs improvement” to the child’s report card. The criteria that these grossly negligent monsters will be graded on will be —
— “a child should be at school on time, prepared to learn after a good night’s sleep and have eaten a meal”
— “a child should have the homework done and prepared for examination”
— “there should be regular communication between the parent and teacher”
Again, as stated before I’m not yet a parent, (that any court in the world can prove!) but I did do my time in the government minimum security juvenile detention system known as “public school” for the entirety of my schooling years. I’ve seen over stuffed classrooms, thirty plus kids to a class in temporary portable buildings that have since become permanent fixtures. Portables that you were so happy to find out you were going to be in for any time because they actually had working heat or air. And here’s a secret for you. Do you know why most children are in public schools? Because their parents can’t afford to send them to private schools.
And now Florida is planning to saddle public school teachers (a paradoxical profession that is simultaneously touted as one of the most important in our society, while at the same time being one of the more commonly acceptably shit upon and neglected professions), with the additional responsibility of telling parents, just shy of total collapse, that they just don’t want it enough? The only thing this will do is shame those who are struggling most to do their best.
Most of those who will be graded superbly will puff up their chests at what a spectacular parent they really are, momentarily hiding their disdain for the nanny that raises their child for them. While many of those graded poorly will either not see it because they don’t give a shit and even if they did are well beyond the point of being shamed by an afterthought addition to an elementary school report card. Or they will in still many other cases, take it as a welcome opportunity to indignantly question if you’re trying to tell them how to raise their child. It’s the working poor who bust their ass every day that will be the most effected and they really don’t need one more outlet telling them how they’re failing their children by making sure they’re not homeless.
Just to be clear, I completely agree that parents have some responsibility for their child’s education. And until we can have algebra and regionally stilted versions of history injected directly into our face by sexy robot school nurses, it’s up to parents to help children temporarily retain enough facts and figures for them to be let loose on the adult world whether or not they’ve actually learned anything applicable to said world or not. Public schools are less a place of education now a days than a holding pen to keep our wild off spring from running rough shot through our food courts and amusement centers for the day with the after effect of begrudgingly teaching them the basics grunts and clicks of their local language, you know, since they’re there any way.
I blame child labor laws.
But in the end, the only person benefitting in any way from something like this will be the legislator who introduced it in the first place. She gets to say that she’s an education candidate, a champion for the little children and that she cares more about you and your family and the future of the human race than her opponent. Ultimately, that’s exactly all that is going to come out of something as hollow and pointless as this idea is. Class dismissed.