Friday, March 06, 2009

Restore Respect at School Act

Recently, I signed up to receive a newsletter from a Maryland Senator and I'm finding it very interesting!! He's not actually my senator - mine are both Democrats, and while I've signed up on their sites, I guess they don't offer any type of news about what they are doing. This guy is a Republican who sends out this weekly agenda of what they covered legislatively. I don't know why the others don't do this, but in the past week I've learned that there are new death penalty standards being voted on in MD, new education initiatives, and a plethora of other information. Including this:

Restore Respect at School Act
Student conduct, homework completion, and classroom
attendance receive attention in the Restore Respect at
School Act (HB 630). According to the bill, a parent or
guardian who is eligible to claim either the State tax
credit or subtraction modification under the State income
tax for household and dependent care expenses for any
dependent might be denied these tax benefits should a
student under their care:
· be unlawfully absent for more than 20% or more of
their school term;
· not complete the minimum amount of homework
required; or
· earn more than one expulsion or suspension for
disrespect, insubordination, or classroom disruption.
The bill allows for parents to regain the tax credit should
they attend a parent conference at the school prior to a
dependent's readmission and provide evidence that the
child has completed a community resource program. An
individual with a federally adjusted gross income of
$41,001 or less will not be denied the tax credit.

I have to say, I was all for this initiative, until I got to that last sentence. On average, I think any educator in any city in Maryland would tell you that a majority of students that fall into the above category come from low income families. This fact, of course, almost negates the effectiveness of this type of legislation. Then it makes me wonder if the approach is all wrong. I think there's a huge gap here between the way a legislator's mind works and the way the rest of the general public operates. Maybe they ought to ask some teachers how to to solve this problem!!


Kathryn said...

I agree. There is no point to this legislation. Problems exist in low income families for a variety of social/economic reasons. My opinion is to tackle the underlying issues, not create meaningless legislation.

deanna said...

Yup - couple of problems with this one. First, it's no incentive for teenagers to go to school. What teenager even cares if their parents get a tax deduction or not? Second, it doesn't give the parents any tools to use to get their child to school - no empowerment, just punishment. Finally, it almost gives low income families permission to let their kids drop out of school - a terrible statement to the families that fall into that bracket.