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Sins of the parents? Should Cobb bar students from clubs, teams if parents aren't involved?

I have to admit. This is a new one on me.

Cobb school board member David Morgan is proposing that students at Pebblebrook High School be kept out of sports, clubs, proms, dances and other extracurricular activities if their parents fail to attend meetings with teachers and act more “engaged” in their children’s academic efforts.

Morgan's rationale: Forcing parents to get involved -- by holding their children's activities hostage -- will help boost academic achievement. He cites research showing parental involvement aligns with greater student success, although the studies have not looked at coerced involvement.

"We as a district can’t idly sit by and look at the abysmal numbers and patterns, decade after decade, and say that we’re not going to have some level of accountability when it comes to making sure parents are engaged and involved in their child’s education,” Morgan said.

The board will vote on the policy Thursday. Among the responsibilities parents would have to check off  before kids could participate in extracurriculars: Parent/teacher conferences and counselor meetings about grad requirements.

Initially, the proposal would apply only to Pebblebrook. Morgan says the policy should not apply to schools with high parental engagement.

According to the AJC's Rose French:

If passed, the policy would be the first among metro Atlanta schools that keeps students from participating in extracurricular activities because of their parents’ lack of involvement. DeKalb County has a similar policy with a small group of specialized “theme” schools which also requires parental engagement; however, students face possible dismissal from the schools if their parents don’t abide by the rule.

“To me it’s nonsensical… to punish children for their parents’ actions or inactions,” said Rich Pellegrino, whose daughter is a senior at Pebblebrook. “Everybody wants parent engagement…but the reality in America is that we have a lot of single parent families, and a lot of them just don’t have the wherewithal to drop work and drop what they’re doing to come and adjust to schools’ schedules.”

This strikes me as punishing the child for the sins of the parents. Sometimes, the drama club or basketball team is the only bright spot in a teen's life. I would hate to see them lose it because they have sorry parents.

What do you think?



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About the Author

Maureen Downey has written editorials and opinion pieces about local, state and federal education policy since the 1990s.