Senate divided on parent involvement in schools

DENVER — State lawmakers are divided on whether teachers should be held accountable for the poor performance of students whose parents aren’t involved in their education.

The issue emerged today as the Senate began debating legislation that would tie teachers and principals evaluations to student performance. The measure (Senate Bill 191) would change the state’s teacher tenure law and require that teachers earn and keep job protections partly based on how much their students progress.

Republicans and some Democrats blocked an amendment that would have factored a lack of parental involvement into teacher and principal evaluations.

Sen. Moe Keller, D-Wheat Ridge, a former special education teacher, recalled having to go to people’s homes and even a laundromat to track down parents so they could sign documents authorizing education plans for their children. Once, she said, she picked up a student and brought him to class herself as his mother sat watching television with a beer.

But bill sponsor Sen. Michael Johnston, D-Denver, said the state shouldn’t lower expectations for children — and their teachers — because of their background. He said the bill would still allow school districts to consider how often students are absent and whether they joined the class late in the year.


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