Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy defended her plan to jail parents who repeatedly miss conferences with their children's teachers during an appearance today on ABC's "Good Morning America."I'm not going to get into the appropriateness or effectiveness of this proposal, but it is another reminder how different the population of charter schools is.
Worthy said many people think she is looking to simply jail people for three days if they miss a parent-teacher conference, but she said her plan is not that strict. She is calling for the jail stay if a parent repeatedly misses conferences and isn't in touch with teachers and school officials.
Parents of achieving students are exempt and a parent who is in constant contact with the school also is exempt. Worthy said a parent could miss three or four conferences before officials would start looking as to why they were not attending them. Those with medical conditions also would be exempt.
I taught in an inner-city prep school targeting serving lower income students, a school run by some of the most dedicated educators I've ever encountered. They took kids who were performing below grade level (sometimes by more two grades) and got almost all of them into college.
When I say almost all, I mean almost all. The drop-out rate was extremely low. This was possible partly because the administrators made it a priority and partly because schools with admission processes tend to select out many of the most at-risk students. (This is why we expect charter schools to have lower drop-out rates than comparable public schools, and why we are so concerned when we see the opposite.)
But as dedicated and hard working as the faculty and administration of that school was, every one of them would tell you that the engaged and supportive families of the kids made their jobs much, much easier. When there was a parents' night you could expect pretty much one hundred percent attendance and when there was a problem with a student you could pretty much count on a concerned response.
Public school teachers and administrators seldom have those advantages.
And yes, it does make a difference.