Thursday, October 17, 2013


If we were to create an evaluation instrument to measure parental proficiency, what indicators might be included?

Qualitative                                                       Quantitative
Teaching the child sound values?                   Daily reading to the child?
Nurture the child?                                          Providing a safe home?
Model and teach fairness?                             Provision of healthy food, well-prepared?
Non-abusive home environment?                     Getting children to school/events on time?
Reinforce effort as a development tool?           Regular dental/medical check-ups?
Purposeful and thoughtful discipline?               Keep the child clean?
Know the child’s strengths/weaknesses?         Limit the child’s TV/screen time?
We could certainly keep adding to both lists, but please take another look at the two lists above and decide which ones would be easiest to “measure.” 

Clearly, the quantitative elements of good parenting would be easier to apply metrics to.  Any efforts at “standardization” must obviously be centered on the quantitative measures, since the qualitative are so “messy” and hard to evaluate.  Take one more look at those two lists and decide in your own mind which ones are most important (to you) as indicators of good parenting.

Imagine a parent who does ALL of the above well, except the fact that they repeatedly burn the toast at breakfast. If we were to build a parental-prowess-measurement tool only on the easily assessed quantitative components, then such a toast-burning parent would be in dire need of remediation.  

We would need to assign such parents to a special class to help them “close the gaps” in order to address their obvious deficiencies.  Of course, time would have to be taken away from “teaching of sound values” or "modeling fairness" in order to address their egregious cooking skills.  Great time, effort, and resources would need to be allocated to alleviate their obvious shortcomings in meal preparation skills.

At the end of the process, if these suspect parents were 
unable to learn toast cooking skills effectively,
or if they became rebellious, 
or if they refused to cooperate, 
or if they dropped out of parenting altogether as a result of their embarrassment, 
they would, in effect, become


A misguided school accountability system that disregards the complexity of children and their learning, and relies heavily on an oversimplified means of testing a narrow set of desired but easily measured "outcomes," makes TOAST of far too many of our children. 


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