Emanuel: Could A New "Parent Pledge" Help?

image from doctorbulldog.files.wordpress.comThe Trib's Eric Zorn looks into the much-discussed parent pledge that Rahm Emanuel has said will be a part of the way things operate under the new CPS and finds out that it's going to be modeled on a contract already in use at a charter school network you might have heard of:  UNO (Getting Chicago parents to sign on) and then goes on to round up pledges in use in other parts of the country and what experts think.[Here's a link to the UNO pledge via Zorn.] Have parent (or student) contracts worked at your school, over all or in individual cases? Do you use them with individual kids or classrooms?  What would you put in one if you were in charge, and how would you enforce it?

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  • Right string wrong yo-yo

    Well the contract sounds benign . But unfortunately in my opinion it
    will only reach the parents who care. Their kids are not the problem.

  • I have absolutely no problem signing a parent contract... AS LONG AS THE TEACHERS AND ADMINISTRATORS SIGN ONE THAT ALLOWS ME TO HOLD THEM DIRECTLY ACCOUNTABLE. (sorry for shouting, but I feel strongly about this)

  • It's not meant to be an enforcable contract any more that the 1994 "Contract With America". It's about setting and communicating expectations. Maybe it will help, I can't see how it would hurt, and my goodness the level of obstruction for any idea that comes from someone you don't like is breathtaking.

  • I'd love to see a copy of the contract you sign with each parent guaranteeing a quality education for their child. I've NEVER been presented, or even heard of, such a document. No, the parents--the only adults who aren't PAID to do this--are clearly the only responsible party here.

  • If you don't have contracts, or clear agreements, with those who provide services to you, then you're wide open to be screwed, not unlike many parents in the CPS system right now.

    A real contract has two parties, each providing specific valuable consideration to the other. I see nothing of the sort on these documents that parents are asked to sign.

  • Where are teacher or principal contracts available online? Link?

  • Not my argument... they're the ones who want parents to sign a so-called contract.

  • How about trying out a sane response to this proposal? One that won't make everyone look like an obstructionist. Here is my suggestion:

    "We support the Mayor's committment to parental involvement, as we too believe it is critical to student learning and successful schools. While we have some doubts as to the practical effect of a parental contract, which has been used in the past at CPS, the idea of the contract sets the right expectations for all CPS parents. We welcome working with the Mayor on additional ways teachers can improve parental involvement."

  • Funny Anonymous should mention IEPs. In the special education realm I have had only one experience with charter school parent contract. This particular contract was linked to the charter school's discipline code, and had a provision in the "parent contract" that stated that repeated violations of the school's discipline code could be the basis for the charter school not re-enrolling the student the next school year. Not wanting to go to expulsion against a student with very real psychological problems the charter school, which will remain unnamed, attempted to use this provision of the parent contract to exclude the student the for next school year. They informed the parent that her child was not invited back for the next school year and she called me asking can they do this? To which I said, yes if you let them, and no if you do not.

    The family with my help and the help of several free lawyers wrote what is called a "demand letter" to CPS and the charter school based on several legal principles as I recall. The 14th amendment states that no state can "deprive any person of their life, liberty, or property without due process of law". This means that the charter school which is a legal agent for CPS cannot deprive a student of this basic right without a hearing. Second, we argued that the process took place without an IEP meeting being held. Third we argued a public school cannot force a parent to agree to an illegal exclusion of a student with a disability by using contract law under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Fourth we argued that the student was being denied what is called a Free Appropriate Public Education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (FAPE).

    The CPS law department did not disagree with most of the argument in the letter. In fact they were willing to direct the charter school to reinstate the student based on their own contract with the charter school. The family argued the charter school as agent of CPS had created a hostile environment and asked for and received a placement at a private therapeutic day school for students with psychological problems. As I recall it cost about $35,000 to $40,000 a year plus transportation costs for the student to and from home. These costs were at the expense of CPS not the charter school individually. This student I believe is still enrolled at this private school.

    Rod Estvan

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