Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, FL

    Every year, Florida's students, schools and districts are
    graded based on their performance. Now, it's time to start
    rating parents, a state lawmaker says.

    State Rep. Kelli Stargel, R-Lakeland, filed a bill Tuesday
    that would require elementary school teachers to evaluate
    parents based on "the quality" of their involvement in their
    children's schools.

    Parents with children in pre-K-to-third-grade would
    get "satisfactory," "needs improvement" or "unsatisfactory"
    ratings in four broad categories.

    They would be judged on their response to requests for
    meetings or communication, their children's completion of
    homework and preparation for tests, their children's absentee
    and tardy rates and their children's "physical preparation
    for school," including a good night's sleep and appropriate

    Parents' grades would appear on their kids' report cards.

    "Although the school environment has a great impact on a
    child's well-being and academic success, parents and the home
    environment form the foundation of a child's present and
    future life," Stargel explains in the bill, HB 255.

    "Without proper parental involvement in all aspects of a
    child's life, the child's prospects to be a well-equipped and
    useful member of society are greatly diminished," the bill
    states. Stargel, a mother of five, could not be reached late

    Parents and teachers raised questions about the bill, saying
    it could backfire and make parent-teacher relations more
    tense. They also feared it would add to teachers' workloads
    if they had to keep track of parent progress as well as their

    "I think it would create a more hostile environment if the
    parent wasn't doing what they were supposed to do," said
    Andrew Spar, president of the Volusia Teachers Organization,
    that county's teachers union.

    "At the end of the day, I don't think this would change
    anything. It would just create more work."

    Spar said the descriptions of ideal parental involvement in
    Stargel's bill are good and there is no doubt that involved
    parents are key to student success. But trying to create a
    formal grading system -- complete with parent appeals -- would
    have little impact but to "put a tremendous burden on the
    teacher," he said.

    Susan Persis, president of the Florida Association of School
    Administrators and the principal at Pine Trail Elementary in
    Ormond Beach, has other concerns -- fairness being the chief
    among them.

    "There are some parents who work two and three jobs and who
    care about their kids just as much as the parent who's the
    president of the PTA and is there at school every day,"
    Persis said.

    "It could be a time thing. It could be something going on in
    the family. Who is the teacher to say, 'You're not doing a
    good job?' "

    But John Wilson, whose two sons are in kindergarten and third
    grade at Bentley Elementary in Seminole County, thinks
    Stargel's bill is a great idea.

    Parents who are doing their part would appreciate the
    positive feedback from teachers, he said. Those who aren't
    doing their part might be encouraged to start.

    "Someone who truly wants their child to learn and succeed
    and go above and beyond, they're not going to take it as an
    insult -- they're going to step up and do more," he said.

    It's not clear whether Stargel's bill will get any traction
    in the legislative session that starts in March, when many
    education-related ideas will be considered.

    Leslie Postal can be reached at 407-420-5273 or Denise-Marie Balona can be
    reached at or 386-228-5008.

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    Copyright 2011, Orlando Sentinel

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    Comments (7)Add / View comments | Discussion FAQ
    Sunkissed Adventures at 8:54 PM January 18, 2011
    A parent that works multiple jobs can still answer a phone
    and respond to a note if they care about their child.

    There are parents who fill out the school registration card
    and provide Micky D's as their home phone number simply to
    avoid any phone calls from the school. I think it's about
    time EVERYONE be held accountable- teacher, student and
    SeaWatcher at 8:38 PM January 18, 2011
    Teachers can grade parents when parents are allowed to grade
    teachers. And the catch here is that the grade the teachers
    receive from the parents determines whether they get a raise
    or if they lose their jobs. Can't work just one way.
    SOUTHERN YANKEE Speaks at 8:12 PM January 18, 2011
    More paperwork for the teacher. Good idea if a way could be
    figured out how to establish a grade or rating.