Much has been discussed here and elsewhere regarding the abysmal performance of Louisiana’s public school system and many of the students within that system. There is a strong movement within the state to associate teacher pay with student performance, which the teacher’s unions are opposed to for a variety of reasons, while it makes perfect sense to those of us who are on the outside looking in that more successful teachers should receive greater rewards.
But I was engaged in a personal conversation today with a public school teacher from Shreveport who offered a completely different and novel suggestion.
Teachers will suggest that there is little they can do to improve the academic performance of a student if that student’s parents don’t reinforce the importance of education at home. I’ve often heard stories of parent-teacher conferences for which no parent showed up, or of parents who are more concerned about a free breakfast program than an academic program. Free after-school tutoring and transportation home is made available but is ignored.
Many of the poorly performing students in the Louisiana public school system are from homes that receive government assistance. Why not associate the availability of assistance payments or adjustments to the academic performance of the children in that home? In that instance, parents would have a financial incentive to encourage their children to attend class, pay attention, do homework, strive for understanding, and to perform to the limits of their capability. Classroom discipline should improve, and the overall benefit would thus become exponential.
How many civil liberties am I proposing to violate with this suggestion?