Opposing Viewpoints: ParentConnect is a great tool to keep us on track

By Andrea Braver
Published: June 2010

South, along with Brown Middle School, and Williams Elementary School, will be piloting new software next fall. This software, called ParentConnect, allows parents to take a look their child’s attendance in class as well as their homework assignment grades, and eventually overall grades.

The software called ParentConnect is a supplement to the online-based software produced by Pearson, which Newton Public Schools already use, thus being provided to Newton at a low cost.

It may appear unjust at first; however, after careful thought, one will soon come to realize its true importance. South, which many of its students refer to as an excellent school, is substantially dropping in the rankings state’€and of course nation’€wide.

The reason behind this is the following: students have been cutting class more often than ever, trekking to Dunkin’ Donuts or Bob’s instead of attending class. Students have also been not completing their homework, as they should.

ParentConnect will allow parents to see when their children have been skipping class or not completing homework assignments on time.

Now, keep in mind that this is simply a pilot program’€if it does not work or seems to be unbeneficial to the masses, the program will labeled a failure and consequently dropped from the Newton Public Schools.

This program is not an automatic recipe for success. There is no guarantee that it will serve as the sole factor in increasing the success and excellence of South; however, this is not a valid reason for us to not give it a try.

For the vast majority of students at South, who regularly complete homework assignments and attend class, the installation of this software into their parents’ computer should change nothing in their lives. After all, if one isn’t doing anything wrong, nothing will appear on his/her parents’ software.

Due to the fact that many students are achieving well, this program will not be affecting them at all.

Conversely, however, those students at South who consistently skip class or don’t complete their homework on time’€or ever’€will be in for a rude awakening. The parents of said students will indeed be notified via ParentConnect every time their child fails to attend class without an excused absence or completely their homework on time.

This software will allow parents who may be unaware of just how often their child is skipping class or not completing his/her homework to get an idea of what is going on with their child.

While the school does notify parents when their child skips a couple of classes in one day, the system is deeply flawed.

Due to the fact that secretaries or housemasters are the ones informing parents when their child has been skipping classes, miscommunications between teachers and these housemasters/secretaries are inevitable.

This new software will take the middleman out of the system of informing parents; teachers have access to the program and thus can update each student’s status regularly. Along with facilitating and correcting the system of calls to parents, this new software makes the lives of housemasters/secretaries much easier.

Another great thing about this software is that parents are by no means obliged to download it and accept it onto their e-mails. For examples, if the parents of a phenomenal student do not wish to proctor their child’s success and schooling, they simply do not need to sign up for the program.

If this is the case, for these parents, it will be as though the software doesn’t exist, thus mirroring the old ways of South’s student tracking system.

Setting up this software was definitely a very smart move of the Newton Public Schools Committee. The system will allow concerned parents who are currently boxed out of their children’s life to delve into their grades and assignment results.

If nothing else results from this new system, a majority of students will at least be more motivated to try harder in school and attend class due to the fact that their parents are now watching their every move.

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