In an attempt to boost parental involvement in the academic lives of Detroit children, one of the poorest-performing school systems in the nation, one prosecutor is pushing an unorthodox penalty for guardians who miss parent-teacher conferences. Wayne County prosecutor Kym Worthy is planning to introduce an ordinance later this month that would send moms, dads, and legal guardians to jail for up to three days if they don't show up to his or her child's school when requested. The only way a parent could get away with missing a meeting is if the child is doing well in school. In Chicago, some schools have taken a less punitive approach by entering into parental contracts with the guardians of their students.
Worthy issued a statement saying that she thinks such a law could help stymie truancy and youth violence. Critics of the idea say it could unjustly penalize single parents and those who are unable to get away from work or other obligations to attend the conferences. The Tribune editorial also points out that attending those conferences won't ensure that a parent will become an active participant in his or her child's education. While it's true that parental involvement is critical to a child's academic success, a guardian can't be bullied or threatened into caring about their kid's education, no matter what the penalty. While Worthy's intentions may be good, and the ordinance might increase parental involvement on the margins, it's unlikely that a successful parent-teacher conference will be enough to stop a kid from pulling the trigger during another senseless gang or drug-related fight.