Parental involvement focus of education reform meeting

Trying to find a legislative solution to a lack of parental involvement in schools, an education reform committee considered the idea of withholding public assistance payments if parents didn’t attend teacher conferences.

Rep. Tim Melton (D-Auburn) suggested the possibility at a legislative education reform meeting this week. This is not the first time Melton has made the suggestion. He considers a lack of parental involvement in schools a form of child neglect and believes Child Protective Services should be called in, especially for parents of students in kindergarten through fifth grade with a high percentage of absences.

Some committee members believe welfare reform is the way to help solve the problem.

“It would get the attention of parents who aren’t attending teacher conferences or showing interest in their child’s education if their assistance checks stop coming,” said Rep. Bob Genetski (R-Saugatuck).

Melton did acknowledge that some parents don’t participate in their child’s education because they can’t read. He cited Detroit’s 40 percent literacy rate as an example.

“For those parents, the last place they want to be is in a school for a teacher conference because they are intimidated,” commented Melton.

This education reform workgroup was appointed by House Speaker Jase Bolger to take on education issues such as improving student performance and school aid. The committee is made up of nine Republicans and four Democrats.  Their recommendations are expected this fall.

So far, the committee doesn’t seem to be considering real education reforms based on research and best practices like those recommended in MEA’s A+ Agenda regarding parental involvement.