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Content Any Way U Want It!

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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

Parent-teacher conferences at college level beneficial, should be initiated

Those who experienced parent-teacher conferences in the primary or secondary grades may cringe at recalling such meetings, especially if he or she was the “student” in the triad list of attendees.

Nevertheless, why not conduct them during the college years?

We already have the framework available: the Falcon Family Weekend each year in September. The same event could be replicated in the spring and time could be set aside at each event for parents or guardians and students to meet with professors and discuss the students’ academic progress.

Some students may view this as an invasion of privacy; after all, grades should only be shared between instructors and students.

But that’s not completely accurate. The Family Educational Rights and Family Act of 1974, often referred to as FERPA, does set limits on the disclosure of grades without the student consent. Students who are 18 and older are considered adults and their grades cannot be disclosed without their permission.

However, FERPA provides an exception: In Section 1232g [b][1][h], it provides that, if the student is claimed as a dependent on the parents’ tax return, his or her grades can be disclosed to the parents without the student’s consent.

It makes sense. If the parents are providing more than half the support for a dependent [including at least part of college tuition], then they should be able to learn how their college student is faring.

Obviously, safeguards must be in place to ensure the people to whom professors are speaking are indeed claiming the student as a dependent.

But, on balance, these conversations could promote a deeper mutual understanding between all parties and improve the long-term quality of interaction between professors and students.

Professor John J. Miller, director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College, experiences this first-hand without many of the restrictions that might encumber our University. Hillsdale College does not accept any federal aid and is thus freed from the restrictions and bureaucracy that

FERPA creates.

He acknowledges that FERPA’s mandates can create a chilling effect on any potential parent-student-professor encounter. But he also states that the increased insights he receives from these meetings make him a better professor.

He relates that many of his conversations are beneficial and enlightening for all concerned and occasionally result in a job lead or access to a future employer for

the student.

While ensuring that the University complies with the law and by taking advantage of the exception that FERPA provides regarding students who are dependents, it makes sense to initiate such a program at the University. This would help foster even greater communication between all parties concerned and enable the parents to appreciate the educational enterprise of the University.

All in all, everyone wins.

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