Parents have contract to sign
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Big Brother is watching you ” and your kids’ TV viewing habits, too.
The Roaring Fork School Board on Wednesday evening passed the second reading of a contract it ” and every other school district in the country ” is required by the Bush administration to distribute to parents for their signatures.
In that document, parents of schoolkids are mandated to sign an agreement that they will, among other things, “support my student’s learning at home by monitor(ing) television watching.”
The agreement also instructs parents to volunteer in the classroom and participate in school activities on a regular basis. It even goes so far as to require parents to “respect, love and encourage my child’s growth and ideas.”
For the past two years, various versions of the contract have been distributed to all elementary school children in the Re-1 district ” about 5,000 forms each year that had to be given to parents, signed, returned and filed.
If Re-1 refuses to distribute the contract, the penalties are stiff: the federal government can and will withhold Title I funds. For Re-1, that translates to $470,000 in funds in 2003, according to assistant superintendent Judy Haptonstall. That money goes towards funding the district’s elementary school math and reading programs.
“The only reason to pass this is to get that funding,” said Re-1 board member Peter Delaney. “It’s a requirement, but it’s inappropriate. It’s an invasion of privacy in the homes of our children.”
Re-1 board president Sue Hakanson said that the premise of the contract is a good one ” but that being forced to administer such an agreement is frustrating.
“Of course, we encourage participation and volunteerism, but without government interference in those decisions,” said Hakanson.
Piles of paperwork
Besides the parental portion of the contract, there are sections that must be agreed to and signed by teachers, administrators and staff. It’s part of an overall partnership the Colorado Board of Education requires.
Board member Brad Zeigel said the contract’s components ” such as teachers providing “high-quality curriculum to meet the state academic standards” and administrators providing “access to educational resources to parents” are already reflected in the district’s mission statement.
But assistant superintendent Judy Haptonstall said that’s no longer acceptable on the state and federal level.
“Now, we’re required to monitor every single thing we do and to back that up with paperwork like this,” she said.
All that paperwork, from parental contracts distributed by administrators to intricate grading systems now required of teachers, is a result of the “No Child Left Behind” act, a federal elementary- and secondary-school mandate signed into law by President Bush in January 2001.
The act’s purpose is a noble one: “to close the achievement gap with accountability, flexibility, and choice, so that no child is left behind,” to quote language in the act.
But it’s also left public school districts throughout the country having to account for virtually every action inside ” and even outside “school walls.
“The Colorado Department of Education is charged with monitoring every move we make,” said Haptonstall. “And they, in turn, are mandated by the feds.”
A reluctant unanimous vote
The parent-teacher-administrator contracts are one of dozens of forms that have to be completed in order for Re-1 to receive its Title I funds.
For the coming school year, Haptonstall said there’s a slight ease in the requirement. The district will only be required to distribute the form to incoming kindergarten parents.
“Well let’s admit to the extortion and move on,” said Re-1 board member Michael Bair, just before the board unanimously approved the contract’s second reading.
Upon a third and final reading and approval, the document will be ready for distribution this coming fall.
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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