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July 9th, 2010
07:12 AM ET

No-show parents could face jail time

Detroit parents may get more than detention for missing their child's parent-teacher conference.

Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is pushing for an ordinance that would allow schools to punish parents who repeatedly miss parent-teacher conferences. The punishment- up to three days in jail.

Worthy plans to officially present the proposed ordinance in Mid-August. She hopes that this ordinance would make parents be more responsible and involved in their child's education, ultimately keeping more children out of trouble.

This raises concerns with some parents, however, who are worried that it could target single parents or those who cannot take off work. Others say that just because a parent misses a meeting, doesn't necessarily mean he or she is negligent.

Do you think that this should be a law? What do you think should be done to get parents to become more involved in their children’s school careers?

Please post your comments below and Fredricka Whitfield will use your comments as part of her discussion when she talks with the experts on this issue during the 10am ET hour of the CNN Newsroom.

Filed under: Anchors • Fredricka Whitfield • Kyra Phillips
soundoff (63 Responses)
  1. Steve

    Excuse me? If a parent or parents are working and cannot get time off to attend tough. I worked for a company that has a strict attendance policy. There were two of my co-workers taken from work by ambulance and the company held them responsible for missing a half day of work putting it against their work history. A school needs to keep its nose on its own face and not in the business of the parents.

    This is just another sign of the loss of our freedoms if it is approved.

    July 9, 2010 at 7:37 am |
  2. Leah

    I think this is a wonderful idea! I am a teacher and can say honestly from experience that the parents who do not show up (or seem to care about) the parent/teacher conferences have the children who struggle in school the most. When I have parents who do not show up to a conference, I offer out of school hours visits or phone conferences to accommodate schedules; but typically these offers are refused by parents who simply don't care. Too much is left on teachers' backs now to raise children..... we have to have the assistance of parents, especially for students who are struggling!

    July 9, 2010 at 8:21 am |
  3. Johanna

    Yes! This is a good idea so many parents don't set examples of a good parent but one who is not responsible. The parents who cannot attend because of work need to provide the school a note from their employer stating why they could not attend. Part if being a parent is attending school conferences and functions why you do not your children realize school is not a priority to you or them. Why do u think the drop out rate is so high there, low expectations. Let's set expectations high for students, parents, teachers, and administrators!!

    July 9, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  4. Frustrated Citizen

    There are so many factors that could inhibit a parent from making a meeting that the law cannot fairly assess when a parent is negligent. What is next, a law that says when we should get out of bed?

    July 9, 2010 at 8:23 am |
  5. darrell

    As a juvenile probation officer in Florida, I feel that it's a fair trade off. Parents should be held accountable for their child's action and progress in school. Without the parents help, teachers are not as effective in his or her class with a problem child.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  6. maggie

    im a student so i know how these meetings work.....usually my mom attends them but there are times when she just can't. she is a hard working person and sometimes she has to work late. I dont like this new rule.... what if my mom has to work...what if something important comes up. Is she going to be put in jail for providing for her family?

    July 9, 2010 at 8:24 am |
  7. Bullock

    Fredricka I don't believe that parents should be jailed because most people work for employers that do not have an excuse for missing work based on your child's education, for that fact most employers won't/ don't carry an excuse policy for missing work. I feel that they should have to show attendance but with an appointment to suit everyone's needs. I myself was fired from jobs for leaving work due to my own emergency medical needs and there was nothing that could be done about it without having enough time on the job for a FMLA.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  8. JDS

    Short and sweet: Absolutely I agree. When all else fails, as seems to be the case with the current situation in Detroit, then absolutely this is a good idea.

    As parents, we both work 2 jobs and are involved in school meetings, both voluntary and mandatory.

    Part of being a parent is being responsible for the active involvement of your child's education and rearing. If you can't find the time, work with a company with a too strict attendance policy, etc. then maybe you shouldn't have kids? Sounds like excuses being made for reasons to not attend, more than it does a problem of getting time off.

    "Tough"? That's the kind of attitude that results in this kind of action having to be taken.

    Schools have to be in the business of parents if the parents aren't going to do it themselves.

    A good idea and I hope it comes to absolute fruition.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:27 am |
  9. Jason

    I know a lady who worked as a child advocate in a school system in the state of New York. She saw the other side of the issue.

    Many teachers and principles would not even show the parents the type of respect they would show the child advocate. The later was treated as a professional when they brought concerns to the school system about what a child was experiencing in school or with their learning. Parents who were comparably brushed off and had to fight to get their concerns listened to.

    When problems were with the child the parents would be called in during the day when they had to take time off from work, instead of during early evening hours, which would have been much easier for working class families. But I guess that would have been too much of an inconvenience for the teacher or principle.

    And when the parents showed up they would be blamed for everything: "You should do this...and do that..." Eventually the parents would stop showing up altogether, seeing no reason to miss work, which means missing pay, just to have the finger pointed at them.

    Children spend more time in school than at home. They are as responsible for the child's development as any parent. I am sure there are many excellent teachers, but there are many who show up, do their work, go home and can't be bothered.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  10. The "D"

    Fred ..The city of Detroit is completely and totally without parental guardianship. I am not talking about the schools, I am talking about the schools, rather, the people who make the laws.

    The former school board spent and embezzled the school system into six hundred and forty million dollars of debt. They appointed Robert Bob as the new guru of all things educational in Detroit. He acted like Lebron James being traded. His face was on TV more than Marie Osmond in a Nutri System ad. He's more of a personal exploitation machine than a help. I think he's running for president.

    Now this ...lets put the parents in jail because the kids won't go to school. Let me see, kids get killed, do drugs, they're raped and worse when they go to school. The gangs are everywhere and they wonder why kids don't want to go to school?

    The City of Detroit is out of control and the federal government needs to take over. Jennifer Granholm is an absentee Governor and nobody else cares. There is an injustice here and people need to listen. This is America not Nazi Germany. Would someone please tell Brack Obama to pay attention to what is happening in Detroit?

    July 9, 2010 at 8:28 am |
  11. Steve B(oyd)

    I am a teacher in Michigan, and a far more serious problem than parents missing conferences is parents not concerned about their child's attendance. If you really want to make a positive educational impact, have the parents spend a half day in jail for every unexcused absence above a minimum (say, 5 days) during a school year.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:36 am |
  12. Bob

    Jail time? What a joke, the people that are in charge of this country is letting their athority go straight to their head. If there has to be a parent teacher conference the school should work around the parents work schedule. It is getting harder to raise a family with one income, so both parents have to work, and now that the economy is in decline it's harder to find jobs. That would be real hard to expain to your boss that you have to miss work for three days 'cause you are going to jail for missing a parent teacher meeting. Good luck trying to fing a new job!

    July 9, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  13. Dawn Moffett

    I am a teacher and a parent of seven children. While I think three days in jail might be severe I also believe that parents need to wake up and take a role in their children's education. I was a stay at home mom for many years but went back to school for 9 years to complete my BA, Credential, and MA. While I was in school it was difficult to attend my children's school meetings, but I did it. My children's education is important for their futures thus important to me. I have children of all abilities so there have been times I had several meetings per year.
    As a teacher, I have spent many days waiting for parents to show-up at meetings to discuss their child's problems in class. I have met as early as 6:30am and as late as 4:30pm, these hours are outside our contract hours and when parents don't show up I wonder who cares more about that student's future. Most teacherstry to accomodate parents and parents need to remember that we have families too. It breaks my heart to see the lack of motivation that some students have and when parents refuse to meet with teachers and counselors it just shows the students that parents aren't interested either.
    There are laws that require employers to give parents time off to attend parent-teacher meetings. Maybe some inforcement of those laws would also be helpful.
    Lastly, as teachers we can't do this alone. We can impart information and assign work but parents have to be there to help their students. Our country depends on the next generation and if parents aren't going to step up we may need to find a way to make them take responsibility for their students.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:41 am |
  14. Eugenia Jarrett

    I love the idea however I think that for working parents problems could arise. I am a teacher and one of my parents had a 24hr daycare in her home so I went to her home for teacher conferences. If the teacher is willing to accommodate the parents by going to the parent if the parent works then I would agree fully. I think for parents who are receiving state and federal funds for their children, begin the punishment first by stopping their funds until they attend a parent conference. Now that would be effective. Parents do not want to loose their foods stamps and checks. Hope this helps. I think that parents should be held accountable for their child's education and this would be one way to make that happen.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:42 am |
  15. Lisa Love

    I am a high school science teacher in a small town near Twin Falls, Idaho.
    I have very good turn out at my PT conferences because I reward the students with extra credit if their parents come. I typically get close to 90% of parents each conference. We are on a trimester so we have conferences 3 times a year.
    However I know for a fact, from experience, that some students suffer at the hands of very poor parents if they are contacted by teachers or attend a conference where their students are having issues. We have a few parents that we do not call due to this abuse on the child.

    YES, parents should be involved in their students decisions both at school and out. However to mandate it could create so many problems. Not only the one I mentioned but in scheduling. Teachers would have to be available for all different work schedules that parents have and also provide transportation for those that can't get to the school.
    Also it would have to be very closely monitored to ensure that some teachers are not saying a parent came when in fact they did not....
    I feel there are much more effective ways to increase parent involvement in a healthy way.
    I really think that an abusive parent would possibly take it out on their child even more for 'making' them come to a conference. It would not be the positive thing that is desired from the conference.

    Making parents is not the answer the good parents already attend and should not face prosecution if on an occasion they can't come.
    Also would a phone conference satisfy the demand??? So many issues to consider.

    As a parent of five successful adult sons( I went to everyconference they had and know it helped them achieve) and as a teacher I would not consider this at all as a way to solve this very real problem.
    Lisa Love
    Wendell, Idaho High School Science Teacher

    July 9, 2010 at 8:51 am |
  16. Joshua

    I dont think jailing parents would be the wisest idea. If you are already have problems with these kids taking the parents away from them might cause more trouble dont you think?. I propose possibly fining the parents monetarily to get the point across. Maybe come up with creative ideas to get the parents there as well. Everyone has a responsibility in the process.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:57 am |
  17. Courtney

    If what the parents are doing (i.e. not showing up to meetings) is not working for the child, then why not require the parents to step up and take more initiative? Any parent who is truly concerned about their child will attend a meeting, despite a job or any prior engagements. As a teacher myself, I have had many parents not show up to conferences and 9 times out of 10, those students end up being suspended or even expelled because the parents were not involved enough in their child's school life to show up to a meeting and that sent a sour message not only to me, but also to their child. I think this is a fantastic idea! Parents have got to be more responsible and more involved.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  18. Michael

    Punishing parents for poor teacher performance is only going to allow the teachers to write off their students more easily. Teachers should be paid in accordance to how well they do with their students, not how well they do with the parents.

    July 9, 2010 at 8:59 am |
  19. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    Being bias on this question will not keep teachers safe some parents cannot attend meetings this is a communist law and the American people will take actions into there own hands .

    July 9, 2010 at 9:01 am |
  20. Rev. Larry Fryer

    I think it would encourage participation. But I have a idea that my school Tubman in Augusta, Georgia has presented to the the Judge for consideration. A fine be levied on parents who do not attend meetings nor school when academics, behavior and attendance warrants their support for proactive results.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:02 am |
  21. Talitha

    Now parents do need to show up for the parent-teacher conference. But given the parents jail time? Give me a break! What will this solve? This is another way for the jail system to make money. The system is full of greed. But giving the parent jail time would make things worse. I vote no for this ridiculous attempt to punish the parents. I'm pretty sure they can come up with something else that is more reasonable.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  22. Jana

    I feel that sending parents to jail for missing pta meetings could give a bad impression to school students. I propose that instead of jail time, the parents should receive a fine for missing pta meetings that would go directly to the education systems. Start off with $100 per offense and rise every time that they miss. Maybe this will then in turn teach parents a lesson and help fund the schools for all the losses that they have seen in the past few years

    July 9, 2010 at 9:04 am |
  23. sam allen

    I think it's great BUT... I can't believe this would ever pass constitutional muster. And if a parent cannot take time off work, is the prosecutor going to try and pass a law that every employer has to give time off or also face jail time. I think the prosecutor needs to go back to school. (And if forced to go, how many of the deadbeat parents she is trying to force would simply take their anger out on their children.)

    July 9, 2010 at 9:05 am |
  24. Sarah H

    Absolutely, make parents come to teacher meetings. Too many do a lousy job of raising their kids. They need all the help they can get.

    I've seen an alarming number of parents skip teacher meetings, ignore notes sent home by concerned teachers and simply let their kids slide through school. These people are not doing their jobs as parents. One woman yelled at our principal that it was "her job to educate her child" – meaning the principal's, not her own as parent – and that she would not come to meetings, would not help her child with the homework the child was struggling with, or anything else. Heaven help that poor kid.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:06 am |
  25. Nathaniel Seeley

    If they want to make it like Jury duty, I'm all for it. Make it law that employers give people time off for mandatory school meetings. If parents are un- or underemployed pay them a fee for thier time. I would even go so far as to have this responsibilty extended to people who don't even have children in the system. Make everyone responsible. Do we want good schools/education ? Then we must support the process as a society.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:07 am |
  26. Karen in RI

    The issue here is poor student performance in school. Here in Rhode Island we didn't jail the parents, we fired the teachers.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:09 am |
  27. Juddelise

    If this is the kind of approach that need to be taken in order to get parents involve in their children's education, then go ahead. Putting children education first shouldn't be an option over other things, Parents, regardless of their individual situation, are greatly accountable for their children success or failure. During parents-teaching conference much is reveal, the information parents provide is necessary for teachers so they can better help and prepare their students. The law should pass through and hopefully reach other states as well.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:11 am |
  28. jill

    What is the cost to apprehend, charge, and incarcerate no show parents? How does this help with how the parents and students preceive school? Why don't you have an incentive to showing up. Give parents something for showing up, such as gift certificates, gas vouchers or even cash. That would be a fraction of the cost of incarceration and maybe bring about some good will by the school system. Be open to parents , have people available at the meetings that can help with problems that may causing the truancy problems.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  29. Lynn

    Yes, A factor in how your child performs in school does have to do with how involved both parents are. But incarcerating parents because they don't "attend" a meeting will not help the student, just over burden a justice system that can not contain the hardened criminals that have already. The problem is how to get both parents more involved in the child's life. Not attending a meeting is minuscule, any parent can attend a meeting and If this is mandatory parents will go, but that does not mean that they will both be a part of their child's life each and every day, which is needed to accomplish what they want to do.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:12 am |
  30. UrbanLowIncomeTeacher

    I am going to assume that the law would allow for alternatives like calling in to make contact or that it would allow for alternate meeting times to be scheduled.

    I am glad that someone has finally realized that parents are key to a child's education. As a teacher I work nearly 70 hours a week to ensure that I am teaching my best, and we're being held accountable for our student's test scores, but those who gave birth to a child and aren't at all involved in their child's life are not being held accountable at all!

    While many parents are involved and aren't negligent, for those kids who are truly in danger of failing out or being removed from school due to discipline issues, more times than not greater parent involvement could have prevented that situation from arising. This really isn't about punishing parents, but the root of this is actually about giving our kids a greater chance at success!

    July 9, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  31. debbie davis

    parents need to go to the meetings but if you work second shift they would need to be available to work with you

    July 9, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  32. Michael Armstrong Sr.

    I cant wait to see the effects of this law on CNN after it passes .

    July 9, 2010 at 9:22 am |
  33. Jeryl

    Give me a break! While parents certainly ought to be interested enough in their child's education to show up for a P/T meeting, jail time is a bit over the top. How much control over our lives are we going to give the government. And, make no mistake about it, public schools are an arm of the government. You cannot legislate character. Our government has worked to destroy the character of the American people and now wants to jail them for not having it.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:24 am |
  34. Gary Witting

    Something has to be done.

    The reality is that if you can not take on the responsibility of being a parent. Do not be a parent.

    I am a single parent of a 15 year son who is a straight A student and I always follow up on all organized meetings. As a matter of fact, I make sure that I communicate to all of his Professors and the Administration on a routine basis. My son accuses me of knowing his Professors better then he does.

    In summary, having a baby is a huge responsibility with a huge burden, if you can not handle the responsibility or the burden, do not have children. Children should not be treated a flotsam and set a drift in the sea of our society. Children need to be formed and nurtured into thoughtful adults.


    July 9, 2010 at 9:33 am |
  35. colleen

    As an educator I know that I am the deciding factor in the classroom...the barometer for success for each child. After 15 years in the classroom, I have only been unsuccessful in conferencing with parents once. How do I do it? I knock on their doors...sometimes at night, on weekends...I have also shown up at their place of work and waited until their break to discuss the progress their child is making at school. I teach in a socio-economically depressed district, and I can tell you that parents are not apathetic-they are scared to approach the school doors due to their own education experience, they feel intimidated, and are scared. It is the responsibility of the teacher/school to find a way to make them feel like they are welcome, and they WILL COME.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:37 am |
  36. Greg, Ontario

    Land of the free and the home of the brave. Don't make me laugh. What's next Identification tattoos? You can't force a parent to be a parent. There are all kinds of teachers. Some can inspire a student to enjoy learning a subject while others can turn a student completely off.

    That said though a child is the responsibility of the parent. You have to take the time to meet the people having any effect on your childs mind. You have to take the time to find out if you are living up to your responsibilities as a parent. If a child is not making the effort it's usually because Mom and Dad don't care or aren't doing anything to change the childs attitude. This is going on in the most affluent areas not just in Detroit. This law is nothing more than a reflection of the frustration teachers and law makers are feeling about the poor parenting going on in thier community. They feel this way because of the crime rates and the age of most of the criminals.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:38 am |
  37. betsy

    It is unfortunate that we have gotten to the point where we have to institute a law to get out parents to be involved in their children’s education. It only goes to the point of how low we value education in this country. As a society we have given lip service to how much we value education, but as a teacher I only see a quarter of my parents during back-to-school night , parent-teacher conferences, and have a difficult time getting parents to return calls. Children are not required to do their homework or after class work, and when a parent is called to inform them that this work is not being done, it is the parent, who tells us that that is our job, or we get yes we will speak with the student, and there is no change. Parents must be an integral part of a child’s education. As educators we only see students six hours a day, their parents, guardians, and caregivers have them for the rest of the hours in a day. It is imperative that they become part of the team to educate our children. If this were the case, we would not find drop-outs, and our scores on those horrible standardized tests would improve. Unfortunately, unless education becomes truly part of our society, and we as a society really value it, not much will change. Education is learning, and we as a society do not value learning, and curiosity. We have scheduled our youngsters to the point where they do not know how to make up their own games, how to pretend. They only know that they have to be at a certain place at a certain time, and what is next, what do you have planned for me to do now. I would hope that as the next generations have children that they will invest more of their time in them, and be an active participant, along with their teachers from the time they start pre-school, till they graduate High School.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  38. brandon

    With all the problems being faced by Detroit, threatening to jail parents for missing meetings is insane. With the economic conditions as they are in Detroit their city council should be looking for ways to create incentives for coming to the city and school not incentives to drive people out of the city and out of the state.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  39. Rick

    They are heading into civil rights issues that the school system cannot afford. These issues will not fix a broken system, they will stir controversy and media time while the students fade into the background. Overcoming educational challenges in any community takes positive measures on many levels, including the most important, the home of the child. This has to be voluntary and inspired to be effective. Forcing parents to follow the rules of a state/federal entity will only generate apathetic opposition, and let's not even mention the potential for abuse. Fines or jail time will only result in resentment and anger. You cannot expect all the kids to "get it" on the first round, especially in an economy where less is more.
    We all know this issue mostly concerns behavioral problems that disrupts the classroom or detrimentally effects the child's schoolwork.
    The teachers are under enormous pressure to produce positive results (federal money demands it and high evaluations in order to keep one's job) . How about considering bringing back retired teachers to instruct the marginal students in an additional evening class? Same building, partial salary, 4 additional hours of school and the teachers could augment their retirement income. The parents would be responsible for picking the children up.
    OK, so it's not the greatest idea, but at least it's a PLAN. There are a lot of good ideas that can work but only if this is really about the students............and not federal tax dollars.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:39 am |
  40. Deborah P

    A ridiculous idea! Many parents work and cannot make the 'scheduled' meeting times and you cannot legislate 'care and concern' for those parents who choose not to show up. Why punish the children by taking their parents away to jail for three days-what are they to do and where are they to go while mom or dad is in jail? Protect the jobs of those parents who would go if they could take the time off "with pay" – legislate that benefit. As for the others, unfortunately you can't make parents care about their children, but you can hire qualified, talented, caring teachers to teach your students, so provide teachers and students with the tools they need and DO YOUR JOB!!

    July 9, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  41. paul

    what about disabled parrents that cant drive? your going to throw them in jail for not being able to attend?

    if these meetings are so important why doesnt the teacher go to the kids home? or why isnt the meeting held in the evning and if needed transportation provided? if your going to make jail time a penalty then you need to take responsiblity as well that there can be no excuse even if that means the school has to pay for transportation!

    July 9, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  42. Varner Teel

    This is a very slippery slope that society is treading down; and it is a two way slope, and both slopes go down hill; if a parent can go to jail for not showing up to a parent teacher conference, then the parents should have the same legal right to prosecute school staff and members for not up holding thier civil responsibilities of providing our children with a safe and successful educational enviroment. We should not be in the business of populating jails with people that don't belong in jail. Jail is a place reserved for criminals.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:47 am |
  43. Colt

    Total disregard for the US Constitution. Now don't get me wrong, I think lack of parenting is the main reason why children are the way they are now. However, this law they are proposing is a violation of the 8th amendment, and if fought hard enough a violation of the 4th amendment as an illegal seizure. There are better ways to go about this...Also, the Government (local or federal) coming in and saying how you should raise your children, sounds a lot like the USSR and Currently, China.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:48 am |
  44. Flavia Pawlowsky

    JAIL TIME????? for parents who do not attend Michigan school activities. Has there been a law passed that designates parent who are absent from school program to get jail time? Are we in America?Doesn't Detroit Michigan have a better school system other than jail time to communicate with parents? Exactly what will this decision and action prove and teach our children in good problem solving?

    July 9, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  45. Becky

    I am a college student and also work full-time. My husband stays deployed to Iraq pretty often. I have missed many parent/teacher conferences due to a hectic schedule. Not counting the times that I have to miss school and work because the children get sick. I have no support system to help me. If I go to jail, and my husband gets deployed, then what happens to my children? I have no reliable family or no one else in the area to help. I assume there will be a high-price to pay. This policy would be bad for people like me because this would mean that my children would end up in foster care while I serve my time. My husband could not get back from his deployments that quick to bail me out.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:49 am |
  46. nashville teacher

    Finally! It's about time. Parents who aren't involved in their child's education have children who suffer the most academically. I requested a conference with a parent repeatedly-in person, by phone, with numerous times available- during the school day, before/after school... to no avail. The child said his mother never comes to the school for anything. He was the oldest of 7, and he was 8 years old! People need to think about the time it takes to raise a child before having children. School systems need to STOP catering to lazy parents. I'm sick of hearing excuses from parents when I go out of my way daily to help their kids. I've worked with numerous single moms who care- we want their kids to succeed! This is why charter schools are usually successful- they require parents to sign on. Public schools laud successful charter schools and wonder what's wrong with their teachers. Look at parent expectations instead.....

    July 9, 2010 at 9:50 am |
  47. Jennifer Carbajal

    I think that what Detroit is doing is awesome. For once, someone wants to hold parents accountable for their children. I think that jail time, not prison, is maybe a little too harsh for a first offense, but repeated offenses during a school year should warrant this kind of punishment because Lord knows as a teacher, fines do not work. And the one gentlemen commenting on this topic is saying that schools need to be creative...ok. Let me explain some of the ways we are creative. We have come in an hour before work time, have stayed four hours after work time, have offered phone conferences, have tried to involve parents in activities such as field trips, dances, carnivals, awards assemblies, volunteering at the school whenever it is convenient for them, and much more. All of this creativity, by the way, takes us from our families and does not provide compensation. There has to be a point where parents are responsible for their children and that means you do whatever it takes to help them succeed, like attending a meeting or two over a period of a year. If this is too much to ask, then we reap what we sow as far as education, morals, religion, and the future of our country.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:51 am |
  48. Trista

    I have attended every school meeting there was for my children and to say that children dont struggle if parents attend well all my children still struggle and I have had to keep 2 of them back in there grades cause of them having a hard time in school what is this a stimulas package for bonds man this is crazy I feel there are other options for this the last time I check our jails were already crowed enough...

    July 9, 2010 at 9:52 am |
  49. Abigail

    Having served as an educator for 6 years now, I am in wholehearted disagreement with this proposition. While I share the frustration of my fellow educators when faced with absent parents, this is most assuredly not the correct way to go about confronting this issue. The first part of my teaching career took place on a First Nations Reservation, in Montana, where cultural values and historical travesties resound in the minds and hearts of parents. Frequently, I needed to call homes and remind parents about upcoming meetings, and more often than not, these were the same homes with no electricity, either a lackluster paycheck or no income at all, and a single parent with memories of grandparents being subjected to the cruelties of the boarding schools era.
    Forcing a parent to spend a portion of time sitting, fruitlessly, in a jail cell will only work toward affirming misconceptions and angering a school's most valuable asset, its parents and local community.
    The onus falls upon me to be the liason between school and home- this is not a simple task, but neither is having to decide between paying the utility bill and providing dinner for an evening.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  50. Michael, Teacher from Springfield

    This approach highlights the importance of parent engagement in their childs school. Unfortunately, the approach is ridiculous. The solution is not to jail parents, but to pass a bill that prevents them from getting fired or from getting any negative consequences directly as a result of them missing work for a school conference.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:53 am |
  51. Lisa

    Please use the name of the murder victim if you are going to report on his death. Oscar J. Grant III was a human being with family and friends that loved him and will miss him. Stop referring to him solely as "an unarmed black man" because then you make him nameless and faceless. This was a tragedy that highlights what many racist police, judges, and others think; "That an unarmed black man is so dangerous that you have to shoot him in the back while he's lying on the ground." This is a sad day for America.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:56 am |
  52. Ali

    I feel that this is an excellent idea. I am an educator and have had many successful parent conferences. I don't ever remember having any negative one. I usually begin by letting the parents know the positive traits that their child exhibits, and I also remind them that the child's inabilty to learn has no reflection on them. When a parent cannot show up I send a calendar home with open dates to give them options. However, when a parent is given other options and do not show up it tells the child that their is no concern for their education. Imagine how a child feels when his/her parent do not show up. I have seen it in their eyes. They feel less than their peers, and begin to give up on themselves. Therefore, falling behind, because they feel that it does not matter whether they succeed or fail. Yes, for the sake of the children this law should be enforced. However, it is also important to give parents options and work with them as well. We need to remember that it really does take a community to raise a child, and sometimes even a nation.

    July 9, 2010 at 9:58 am |
  53. Kim

    I mean come on America. While parents should take an active role in their child's education, it isn't "mandatory." This is the land of the free, and if a parent of a student wants to be a deadbeat so be it. Why would this school system make other parents that truly care about their child's education suffer for those that are not interested? Some people work M-F and it's most likely during the day when these meetings are held. Like Steve Perry, CNN Education Contributor, said, "If these meetings are so important, so important that we would send a parent to prison, why not go to the parent's house?" Or schedule them on the weekends! This is absurd, and not going to make it through legislation! What might happen is these parents in the school district are going to running for the hills. If it were me and my family, we would be going to another county or state.


    July 9, 2010 at 10:01 am |
  54. Abby Smith

    This is crazy. There are hundreds of reasons why a parent may not be able to attend parent teacher conferences which have nothing to do with their concern and involvement in their child's education. I'm sure the most common would be a single parent working 2 jobs just to keep of roof over their children's head and food in their stomach's. Why make things even harder for parents who are already over loaded.

    A much more productive approach would be an outreach program between parents and teachers. On the easy end of this, it can be achieved through emails containing a pass word between teacher and parent. A password would insure it was the parent on the other end of the computer and not the child. For a child having difficulties and emails are not achieving the goal, teacher and parent may have to get up out of their chair and have a home visit or meet somewhere for coffee to discuss the problem and come up with some solutions. This to me is a constructive way to achieve the intended goals and benefit the child's education.

    July 9, 2010 at 10:02 am |
  55. Becky

    Ok, so let's jail the teachers if their student receives failing grades, and why not the principal for hiring deadbeat teachers. While we are at it, let's jail congress and state legislators for underfunding the schools. How about we jail all taxpayers for not providing enough revenue for hiring better teachers and monies to purchase resources?

    July 9, 2010 at 10:22 am |
  56. Marcia

    I'm not in favor of jail time, but after a set amount of re-scheduled meetings how about detention for the delinquent parents????

    July 9, 2010 at 11:11 am |
  57. Donna

    As a classroom teacher, I believe parents not showing for parent conferences is a form of neglect. Parent Conferences are designed so that the parent and teacher are in contact with each other on behalf of the student. Parent Conferences are planned in advance and parent's need to sit down with their employers and discuss getting the time off, and making up the time. It is imperative that parents play an active role in the education of their child. In my district, the Parent Conferences are held from 4p.m. – 8:00p.m. and if you can't get there at the time, then call the school and make arrangements to meet with your child's teachers during their planning period. Parents are responsible for their education. Teachers are to ensure the opportunity and students are to take advantage.

    July 9, 2010 at 11:26 am |
  58. Mary Florio

    The bigger issue is the lack of investment that we as a country put on the value of our children and families. Almost all other developed countries provide an extensive family leave after the birth of a child. This provides time for a family to bond and strengthen their family unit going forward. If all work places provided time for a parent to attend a yearly conference and workers were not at risk for losing a job or losing pay, particpation would increase. It would be easy enough for the school to place the call that the worker indeed did participate.

    July 9, 2010 at 12:51 pm |
  59. Alisha

    At my sons school they send out a letter asking the parents to call and set up a good time to get together or you could return the bottom portion to the school with that info. On the top portion it had boxes to be checked by the teacher indicating whether the teacher felt if was neccessary to see the parent. If nothing was checked then the teacher did feel the need to see the parent. My boy never had any boxes checked so we only went the first one so we could all meet each other. I feel that there isn't a reason for a parent not to attend when they give you a choice to set up a time. Now to put some one in jail over it? I think thats going a little too far. Maybe give dcfs a notice or the schools social worker about the repeated no-shows. I think jail is a ridiculous idea.

    July 10, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  60. The Grey Lady

    The day you have to go to your boss for an acceptable excuse slip to miss an appointment with a public "servant" is the day you need to hang your head and admit that the state owns your behind and you are in fact their servant.

    These people are in effect modeling and telling your children that they have authority over you the parent, that the parents are subserviant to the of the state school system and can and should be discounted by the children if the parent was so unfortunate as think, say or do anything contrary to the school agenda. Beautiful..

    As a side concern: I guess short term Foster care will see a boom in business then? Or will the teachers be having the kids bunk at their house? I see more taxation required to support the increased court time, defense attorneys, jail time and of course foster care. Bonus would you say?

    July 11, 2010 at 8:07 pm |
  61. Alexandra

    I think as long as a parent shows some kind of involvement, they should not be jailed. It's a little extreme, but it may wake parents up to the importance of being involved and not simply letting schools raise our children!

    July 12, 2010 at 9:43 am |
  62. Christine Rickard

    I am a single mother who works full-time. I have to do parent school conference meetings by phone. Why don't the schools in Detroit do this? It 's crazy to penalize all parents for not being able to make the meetings

    July 12, 2010 at 3:06 pm |
  63. Martin in Shoreline, WA

    We need to get the state out of our family lives. If the child has not been assaulted (this does not include spankings), the state doesn't have any Constitutional right to interfere on any level.

    July 14, 2010 at 6:21 pm |