THE ISSUE: Limiting certain forms of public assistance to parents who aren’t helping in the education of their children.
OUR VIEW: It’s a bad idea for the state to hand out punishments to disengaged parents.
As Indiana’s leaders discuss more ways to reform the state’s public education system, many teachers are understandably defensive.
They argue that it’s really parents, not teachers, who have the greatest impact on a child’s success in school. And they note that without that parental involvement, teachers are at a huge disadvantage in trying to motivate a struggling student.
Some teachers argue that what the state really ought to do is crack down on lousy parents. It ought to hit them in the pocketbook, making their families ineligible for certain forms of public assistance.
The frustration these teachers are expressing is reasonable. It is hugely difficult to make a child do homework and pay attention in class if the message from home is that education doesn’t matter.
It’s also true that some students are faced with obstacles at home that go beyond the quality of parenting. They live in environments where concern about where the next meal is coming from takes a higher priority than finishing that math assignment. They live in homes where a single mom working two jobs is simply too worn out at the end of the day to run through her child’s spelling list.
And none of that is the fault of Indiana’s teachers.
Still, it’s a bad idea for the state to begin handing out punishments to disengaged parents.
Unlike private schools or even charter schools, public schools have a responsibility to educate every child, regardless of the baggage he or she might carry. Public schools don’t, and shouldn’t, have the option of turning away the students who don’t show up in the classroom ready to learn.