STATE OF OPPORTUNITY. Can Kids in Michigan Get Ahead?
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Should parents get paid time off for kid's school activities? One lawmaker thinks so.

Isabelle Acatauassu Alves Almeida / Flickr Creative Commons / HTTP://J.MP/1SPGCL0

Working parents are often forced to decide between volunteering in their kid's class or chaperoning a field trip, and going to work.

The bills don't pay themselves. So work often wins, understandably.

And as a working parent, I know it's not an easy choice to make.

But one California lawmaker thinks parents shouldn't have to choose between being involved in their child's education and their paycheck.

Assembly Bill 2405 has been introduced by state Assemblyman Mike Gatto of Los Angeles.

If passed, it would require employers in California with 25 or more employees to provide three workdays of paid time off for school-related activities each year.

The way it works now, parents, grandparents, and guardians in the state can take up to five days leave each year to participate in activities at their child's school or daycare.

Gatto tells Fox 5 New York:

Being involved in your child's education shouldn't be limited by your family's income, and it shouldn't come down to a choice between meeting with a teacher or volunteering in the classroom, versus paying the bills. You shouldn't have to be a cast member of the 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills' to be involved in your child's education. We must stop passively bemoaning the state of our schools, and do something to engage families in the educational process and the school community. AB 2405 will allow parents to play an active role in their children's success, without worrying about putting food on the table.

Is Gatto on to something? Does parental involvement really make that much of a difference?

According to the National Education Association, regardless of family income or background, students with involved parents are more likely to:

  • Earn higher grades and test scores, and enroll in higher-level programs;
  • Be promoted, pass their classes, and earn credits;
  • Attend school regularly;
  • Have better social skills, show improved behavior, and adapt well to school; and
  • Graduate and go on to post-secondary education.

The legislation still needs to be approved before it's introduced in the California Senate. According to Parents Magazine:

Gatto admits that he is expecting opposition from businesses that say they can't afford to give their employees those three days off, but he says the legislation is an important step towards engaging families in the educational process and the school community.

Senator Bert Johnson introduced a similar bill in Michigan in 2012. But SB 1224, the Family Education Leave Act, didn't go anywhere.

Is this bill exactly what working parents and their kids need? And should more states follow suit?

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