Schools Grading Parents?

Success Academy Parent Investment Card

Education Week published a story last week about how the Success Academies, a charter school network in New York City, grades their parents on their involvement. Success Academies whose founder and CEO is Eva Moskowitz who was on President Donald Trump’s suspected short list for U.S. Secretary of Education.

They wrote:

Success Academy, which is based in New York City, is known as both an academic powerhouse serving mostly low-income, minority students and a prominent adherent to the controversial “no excuses” charter school philosophy, which promotes strict codes of student conduct.

The network began issuing the parent report cards this month.

It’s not uncommon for charter schools to place a premium on parental involvement. Some charters have even gone so far as to mandate that parents volunteer at their children’s school (an issue that got a lot of attention in California relatively recently).

Success Academies describes the Parental Investment cards in their parent handbook this way:

Schools issue parent/guardian Parent Investment Cards throughout the year to share feedback on fulfilling important parent responsibilities. Your scholar simply cannot achieve his or her greatest potential without you. The card will reflect three areas of focus and highlight feedback on a green, yellow, and red scale.

Homework Supervision

What is expected:

You make homework completion and reading a priority at home. Your child completes at least 96% of all regular and vacation homework.

Why this is important:

Effective homework advances a child’s understanding and knowledge. In elementary school, the primary purpose of homework is to foster a love of reading and practice essential skills like spelling words or quick math facts. It also factors into whether a scholar is ready to advance to the next grade. By middle school, homework becomes an essential part of learning by doing and impacts scholars’ GPA. Homework assignments count for 25% of a high school scholar’s course grade and help develop self-discipline and the time-management skills critical for success in college, where almost all work is done outside of class.

School Readiness

What is expected:

Your child attends school everyday and arrives on time and in uniform. Your child has no unexcused absences, tardies, uniform infractions, or suspensions. Your child acts responsibly at school and while in transit to and from school.

Why this is important:

Scholars miss so much learning when they aren’t in school. Each day is packed full, and even being a few minutes late can impact your scholar’s progress. Disruptive behavior takes away from important learning time as well. Understanding the importance of being on time and embodying the honor code will help scholars succeed long after they leave Success Academy. Together, we are helping them become responsible and productive citizens.

Parent Responsiveness and Investment

What is expected:

You respond to all communications (including meeting requests) from your child’s teachers, principal, or school staff within 24 hours —  just as you can expect us to respond to your requests in a timely way. You complete requests (like submitting required scholar forms) by the stated deadline. You attend all required school events and meetings, such as Your Scholar’s Success meetings. You are respectful when interacting with your child’s teachers, principal or any school staff, just as we are respectful to you.

Why this is important:

First and foremost, good communication between school staff and parents and guardians is essential. When issues arise—good or bad— it is important they are addressed in-the-moment to assure scholars are getting the support, reinforcement, or congratulations they need for progress. Second, our community is built on respect. Even if you don’t agree with something happening at school, discussing it from a place of respect allows for progress. Some meetings are required when information is best delivered in person with the opportunity to ask and respond to questions.

Parent Investment Expectations Per Reporting Period  

Homework Supervision (Completion of regular and vacation homework)

Green: Meeting Expectations

  • During the reporting period, my scholar’s homework completion rate was a 96.0% or above.

Yellow: Approaching Expectations

  • During the reporting period, my scholar’s homework completion rate was between 85.1% to 95.9%.

Red: Below Expectations

  • During the reporting period, my scholar’s homework completion rate was an 85.0% or below.

School Readiness

Green: Meeting Expectations

  • During the reporting period, my scholar had: no unexcused absences; and
  • no tardies; and
  • no uniform infractions; and
  • no suspensions.

Yellow: Approaching Expectations

  • During the reporting period, my scholar had: 1 unexcused absence; or
  • 1 tardy; or
  • 1 uniform infraction; and
  • no suspensions.

Red: Below Expectations

  • During the reporting period, my scholar had: 2+ unexcused absences;
  • 2+ uniform infractions; or
  • 2+ tardies; or
  • a suspension.

Parent Responsiveness and Investment

Green: Meeting Expectations

  • During the reporting period, I: responded to all communications within 24 hours; and
  • completed all requests (including forms) on time; and,
  • attended all required meetings; and
  • always showed respect when interacting with members of the school community.

Yellow: Approaching Expectations

  • During the reporting period, I: responded to all but 1 communication within 24 hours; or
  • completed all but 1 request (including forms) on time; or
  • missed 1 required meeting; and
  • always showed respect when interacting with members of the school community.

Red: Below Expectations

  • During the reporting period, I didn’t respond to at least two communications within 24 hours; or
  • didn’t complete at least 2 requests (including forms) on time; or
  • missed at least 2 required meetings; or
  • had disrespectful interactions with members of the school community.

There is no doubt that parental involvement is the number one factor in whether a child will succeed in school. It is commendable for schools to stress and encourage parental involvement. I know when I taught I appreciated parents who were communicative and involved in making sure their students were staying on top of school work.

This is the first time I’ve heard of a school grading parents. I have not seen this with private schools, who typically do have parental expectations, let alone a public school. I don’t think this is the way to go about improving parental involvement. They do not know what is going on at home, as well as, with a parent’s work. The school just put itself in a position of accountability over a parent when it should be the other way around.

Your thoughts?

Michelle Rhee Is Out of the Running for Secretary of Education

Photo credit: Commonwealth Club of California (CC-By-2.0)

Photo credit: Commonwealth Club of California (CC-By-2.0)

Michelle Rhee announced on Twitter this afternoon that she is not pursuing a position with the Trump administration.

Here is her statement below:

I am not pursing a position with the Administration but I have appreciated the opportunity to share my thoughts on education with the PEOTUS. Interestingly many colleagues warned me against doing so. They are wrong. Mr. Trump won the election. Our job as Americans is to want him to succeed. Wishing for his failure would be wanting the failure of our millions of American children who desperately need a better education.

Rhee is a registered Democrat and Democrats for Education Reform warned Democrats such as Rhee and Eva Moscowitz (who also said she wasn’t interested in the job) to not accept the Secretary of Education role should it be offered.

From the original short list Ben Carson can be scratched off, Eva Moskowitz can be scratched off, and now Michelle Rhee. If you believe Buzzfeed that would mean the position is Betsy DeVos’ to lose, but I don’t.

Donald Trump Meets With Betsy DeVos, Michelle Rhee

Betsy DeVos speaks at the 2016 American Federation for Children Policy Summit.

Betsy DeVos speaks at the 2016 American Federation for Children Policy Summit.

Republican mega-donor and education activist Betsy DeVos met with President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence this weekend at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Bedminster, N.J this Saturday. Trump and Pence also met with Michelle Rhee who was the former D.C. Public Schools Chancellor and founder and former CEO of StudentsFirst.

DeVos has been a school choice and Common Core advocate who serves as the chairperson for the American Federation for Children. She also serves on the board of directors of the Foundation for Excellence in Education, the group that former Florida Governor Jeb Bush created. DeVos has been discussed as being on Trump’s short list for Secretary of Education and this meeting just fuels further speculation. Trump also recently met with Eva Moskowitz, CEO of Success Charter Schools. Moskowitz recently stated that she would not be interested in the position.

The readout from the Trump Transition Team said their meeting with DeVos was about “was focused on the Common Core mission, and setting higher national standards and promoting the growth of school choice across the nation.”

The Transition Team readout from Saturday’s meetings said Trump and Pence enjoyed an in-depth discussion about the future of public education in our country with Michelle Rhee. They stated that the discussion “included the possibility for increasing competition through charter and choice schools. They also brought the idea of merit pay for teachers going above and beyond in their classrooms into the conversation.”

So far Trump has only met with Common Core advocates. While discussion with these individuals also included other topics as well it is disconcerting to see.

Trump’s Secretary of Education Short List

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Who will run the U.S. Department of Education in Trump’s administration?

During the Presidential transition the President-Elect starts to put together his administration, and many wonder who President-Elect Donald Trump will appoint to become the Secretary of Education. Who he appoints will send a signal of whether it will be business as usual or if he means business when it comes to shrinking the federal role in education.

Outside of hoping he appoints no one (I’m not sure that’s a great idea while the U.S. Department of Education still exists). Here are some names that are floating out there.

The New York Times reports (Politico echoes this):

WFYI in Indianapolis said that at a Education Writers Forum held in DC on Monday these names were being thrown around by Vic Klatt, a principal of Penn Hill Group and former GOP staff director for the U.S. House Committee on Education.

  • Tony Bennett – ousted Indiana Superintendent of Public Education who later resigned as Florida Commissioner of Education after being investigated for fraud.
  • Congressman Luke Messer (R-Indiana) – serves on the House Education & Workforce Committee

Alyson Klein at Education Week speculated:

  • the list above and then adds Gerard Robinson who served as a Florida Education Commissioner and former Virginia Secretary of Education. Robinson currently serves on Trump’s transition team. He has also been a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

Brett Baier of Fox News floated these two names other than Carson:

  • Eva Moskowitz – the CEO and Founder of Success Academy Charter Schools
  • Michelle Rhee – Founder of Students First, former Chancellor of Washington, DC Public Schools

I wouldn’t know what to expect from a Secretary Carson. While he is a nice man, I think he would be out of his depth at the U.S. Department of Education. A Tony Bennett appointment would send all of the wrong signals that status quo will be maintained. I couldn’t take Trump seriously when he says he is against Common Core if he appoints a pro-Common Core advocate who lost his election in Indiana largely because of that support.

I don’t know much about Congressman Messer other than he is part of the committee that helped usher in the Every Student Succeeds Act and was a vocal advocate for it. No thank you.

Gerard Robinson’s time in Florida was marred with controversy when FCAT scores collapsed. He is also part of Jeb Bush’s Chiefs for Change. He isn’t the person I would be looking for.

Eva Moskovitz’s involvement with charter schools and the fact she’s liberal would sink her potential nomination as she would take flak from both sides of the aisle. Michelle Rhee pushes corporate school reform and is against parental assessment opt-outs, not to mention, is pro-Common Core. Yeah… no thanks.

I think the best candidate for the job would be Williamson Evers, who has been a staunch critic of the Common Core State Standards and its aligned assessments. I hope that he gets the appointment, and he has prior experience with the U.S. Department of Education which would be an asset I would think.

Perhaps under a Trump administration Evers will be the Secretary of Education who padlocks the front doors of a closed U.S. Department of Education, but I’m not going to hold my breath on that.

Update: Additional names added to the rumor mill. I want to emphasize these are just rumored to be on the list.

  • Tony Zeiss, a former president of Central Piedmont Community College
  • Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, now the president of the Purdue University System.
  • Governor Scott Walker (R-WI)
  • Hanna Skandera, the New Mexico Secretary of Education
  • Education activist Betsy DeVos
  • Education activist Kevin Chavous
  • Larry Arn, President of Hillsdale College

Out of these names, Dr. Arn is the only one I could get excited about. I don’t know anything about Zeiss, Daniels supported Common Core so no thanks.

Walker is a mixed bag. On one hand he was weak when it came to repealing Common Core on the other hand he could work to scale the department back. Too many question marks. Ms. Skandera is a supporter of Common Core.

I don’t know anything about Kevin Chavous, but I don’t think appointing an activist is the right way to go. Betsy DeVos… hell no.