MEMPHIS, TN— Are your kids doing their homework? Are they getting to school on time? If not, parents may get a failing grade. Tennessee lawmakers have approved a new law to motivate parents to get involved in their child’s education and they're working on another one.
Governor Bill Haslam just signed House Bill 3636 or “parental involvement contract” into law, which goes into effect this fall. It is a contract between parents and the school stating they will be good parents by singing their children’s report cards, making sure their children are not absent from school, attend school functions, and make every effort to attend parent-teacher conferences. The other bill, HB2994, is a report card to grade how well parents are involved in their children’s education.
Memphians say parents should know this already and it was a waste of lawmakers' time. Not only is Angela Branch a mother of five, she's also the designated baby sitter for her neighbors. She says she knows a thing or two about raising kids and lawmakers should butt out.
"I think lawmakers need to stay out of family business,” Branch said. “It's important for a parent to be involved in a child's education but I don't think you should sign a contract saying what you're going to do."
State Representative Antonio Parkinson of Memphis thinks otherwise. He sponsored both HB3636 and HB2994 to motivate parents to get involved in their children's education. He says in turn, kids will do better at school.
"What this parental report card does, it creates the awareness that the parent may not have in regards to how and what is needed for them in support of their children’s education,” said Rep. Parkinson.
Parental contracts are voluntary and will be for all public schools in Tennessee. Parental report cards are only for Achievement School districts Pre-K through 3rd grade.
"Great intentions but very, very, very flawed follow through. It is not enforceable,” said President of the Memphis Education Association, Keith Williams.
Williams says lawmakers are wasting their time.
"We do not have the money to put a police officer in every home to ensure parents are parenting properly,” he said.
Branch says the answer for better parenting is to do it yourself.
“If you bring a child into the world make a decision that I’m going to be a better parent or I’m going to be a better parent than my mother or my father,” Branch said.
The House will vote on the parental report card on Monday April 23.