Florida Flag MapSchools which have had difficulty evaluating and getting rid of poor teacher will be responsible for evaluating parent involvement if a bill before the Florida House and Florida Senate is passed this year.

State Representative Kelli Stargel (R-Lakeland) introduced similar legislation last year which failed.  She reintroduced the bill called “Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools.”  In the Florida House it’s file number is HB 543 and an identical bill has been filed in the Florida Senate – SB 944.

This bill requires public K-5 teachers in the state of Florida to “evaluate the parental involvement as satisfactory, needs improvement or unsatisfactory on each of the following criteria as defined in district school board policy.”

  • The frequency of the student’s unexcused absence and unexcused tardiness.
  • Parental response to requests for conferences or communication.
  • Parental submission of complete and correct information, including, but not limited to, emergency-contact information; student-immunization records; and pertinent parental-contact information, which shall be on file and updated if changes occur during the school year.

A parental-involvement evaluation would then be sent along with the student assessment to the home which would indicate that the parent “needs improvement” when two or more of the following occur in a quarter:

  • The student has five or more unexcused absences.
  • The student has 10 or more instances of unexcused tardiness.
  • Five or more requests for communication between the teacher and the parent are made with no communication occurring.
  • The emergency-contact information provided by the parent is determined to be incomplete or incorrect.

Every school year data from these evaluations would be collected and then sent to the Florida Department of Education who then completes a report to be given to the Governor, the President of the Florida Senate, and the Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives.

This bill is a flagrant intrusion into parental privacy.  While yes I understand some parents do a poor job of being involved in their child’s education this is the wrong solution.  A big brother response to the problem of little parent involvement is not one that can be best addressed by government.  An elementary school teacher (and I have visions of some 22-23-year old recent college grad doing this) is certainly not the person to make these assessments.  Also Representative Stargel seems to believe that teachers don’t already have enough to do and she wants to add to their plate.

Then again as a champion of local control, this looks like another example of a state foisting an unfunded mandate onto the local school districts.  The content of the bill makes it even worse.

This is a bill that needs to die an early death.

Update: I had an email from Sandra Brevard, an education activist I know, forwarded to me.  She wrote:

The legislative analysis indicates that the cost impact on schools is “indeterminate.” It states there will be costs to publish the handbook, grade, and collect/report data.

The legislative analysis says the “evaluation data” will become a part of the student’s permanent record and be confidential following FERPA guidelines.

You can read the bill yourself below:

Florida HB 543 – Parental Involvement and Accountability in the Public Schools
Originally posted at Truth in American Education

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4 comments
  1. I understand your point of view, but I don’t see how this in any way compromises “parent privacy”. It is merely reporting a lack of involvement by a parent in the public education system. I pay thousands of dollars a year funding that system, and I don’t think it is too much to minimally report on the involvement of parents in the child’s education. I think very few people will fall into the “needs improvement” category or below, and for those who do, I think having it documented can’t hurt.

    If you are worried about your privacy don’t use public funding. I feel the same way about the “privacy” of those getting welfare, and feel as though their privacy is invaded for a drug test. If you want to use public funds you have to be willing to sacrifice privacy. If you don’t like it, home school your kids, or send them to private school.

    1. There are already ways to “document” this without the state mandating it.  As far as your parent privacy argument… are you in favor of getting rid of the compulsory age?  Because unless you are able to home school or can afford to send your kid to private school then you have to be involved in the public schools.  Another problem with your argument is where do you think those public dollars came from?  Perhaps if we were able to be refunded the amount of our taxes that funds the public school more would opt for private schools.

      Also most schools have polices regarding tardies, and there are already truancy laws on the books for those who miss school. “Unexcused absences” can be very subjective since the law doesn’t spell that out. Also the communication requests and emergency contact info can be subjective as well – that needs to be spelled out further in the bill. But again, let local school boards decide if this is something they want to do. The state shouldn’t mandate it, and data mining for the state certainly shouldn’t be part of the process.

  2. Shane, you made a very good point for the bill.  This is all information that is already available to the school and being collected.  They can put it in the student cumulative file and say whatever they want and the parent doesn’t even know— if there are really teachers out there who would have this goal in mind (whether they are 22 or 23, or otherwise– which, by the way, they are able to teach our kids but not decide if a parent is returning communicating with them?),    I read the bill and there is no penalty to the parent– just the information/notice.  It will help the system when a teacher in the following year can look and see that Johnnie doesn’t have the kind of home support that Jimmy does, that can help teachers.  It can also help schools make sure one teacher doesn’t get all the Johnnie’s and another one gets all the Jimmy’s.  While the bill isn’t perfect, I applaud this legislator’s goal to notify parents when the teacher thinks there is a problem.  Unfortunately, not all parents are as good as you or I may be and giving them notice and an opportunity to learn what is best for their child by communicating and having them in school is a plus to me.  This sounds like accountability for the use of public funds to me.

    1. I’d actually prefer not to have my kid under the influence of a 22-23 year-old all day long, but then again that is one of the many reasons for why we homeschool.

      If this information is already being collected then there is no reason to codify this is there? Being a local contol advocate I also think decisions like these are best made at the school board level.

      Also, there is no teeth now, but that could change and if its ok for the state to dictate this what else is ok?

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