Family Matters

Skip Your Parent-Teacher Conference, Go to Jail?

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Show up for your child’s parent-teacher conference or go to jail: the choice could be yours in Michigan, if a county prosecutor has her way.

Just as parent-teacher conference season is shifting into high gear in schools across the country, Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy is championing a law that would require parents to participate in at least one parent-teacher conference a year or spend up to three days in the slammer. (More on Time.com: “Mompetition”: Why You Just Can’t Make Mom Friends)

I love parent-teacher conferences; I get to talk about one of my favorite subjects in the world — my kids — with someone who gets to spend more time with them during the day than I do. But apparently not everyone is as fond of the annual or semi-annual tete-a-tetes. Even in my daughter’s well-to-do elementary school in Seattle, the teacher has had to send multiple e-mails nagging recalcitrant parents to schedule a meeting with her.

Of course, there may be legitimate reasons why parents couldn’t make a conference, and Worthy acknowledges that. Those whose children are excelling or are otherwise in close communication with their children’s teachers — as well as parents with medical issues that preclude travel — would be exempt. (More on Time.com: Health Check-Up: Women & Health)

In the end, there is a grace note, of sorts. Moms and pops convicted of parent-teacher truancy would get one last chance to make things right before swapping business suits for prisoner garb. If, after being convicted, they schedule and attend a conference, the sentence would disappear — kind of like this proposal is likely to do.

Because even those who support the notion of getting parents more engaged in their children’s education feel imprisonment might be a tad overzealous. Or worse. Daniel Lessard, a member of the Livonia Public Schools board, told CNN the proposal was “the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.” (More on Time.com: Do Parents Discriminate Against Their Own Chubby Children?)

We already mandate that parents must buckle children into carseats, make baby bikers wear helmets and attend school — or a homeschool equivalent. But can we really legislate parental involvement?

More on Time.com:

Photos: Summer Programs Keep Kids’ Minds Sharp

Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon: Parents Get Help Talking Puberty, Sex With Daughters
The ‘Mommy Brain’ Is Bigger: How Love Grows a New Mother’s Brain

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