Azara Blog: Trade unionist wants parents rewarded for spending "quality time" with their children

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Date published: 2008/05/03

The BBC says:

Parents who spend quality time with their children should be rewarded through the benefits system, head teachers' leaders have said.

Punitive steps like fining parents for truanting children rarely worked, National Association of Head Teachers president Clarissa Williams argued.
Perhaps parents who spent time reading to their children, going to school parents evenings or helping out in their school, could get higher payments, she suggested.

She acknowledged it was a complex area and that there would always be some parents that would be hard to reach, but that did not mean it should not be tried.

"We all know what good parenting is, and in fact unless we actually show that and reward that in ways that people see the rewards, which - let's be honest - financial rewards are quite important.

Why is it that teachers' trade unions seem to come up with the craziest ideas? The claim that "we all know what good parenting is" is all very well (although blatantly false), but are we going to have thousands of bureaucrats up and down the country visiting every family and deciding, using some checklist, whether the parents are spending "quality time" with their children? In particular, for the one example she actually mentions, how is the State going to determine if parents are reading to their children (and for how long)? And needless to say, during the one or two hours these time wasters are visiting a family, there will be lots of "quality time" being demonstrated.

The other two suggestions she makes have to do with the school (surprise, since teachers have a vested self-interest in this one). Now in what way is going to school parents evenings (which is at least something that the State could sign off on without undue silliness) have anything to do with spending "quality time" with one's children? On the other hand, "helping out in school" is something that middle class parents will be much more likely to be able to do. And indeed, given the way the world works, the middle class will be much more successful at playing this game than the working class, so ultimately all this crackpot scheme would do is entrench middle class advantage, and in particular allow middle class parents to get yet more subsidy from the State for no reason.

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