Parents Rights in Education
By Guest Columnist Nancy Churchill
In my experience, most parents are too busy with raising their families and making a living to have much interest in political involvement. Many families have two working parents, and the parents’ time, energy, and attention is narrowly focused on juggling work and parenting responsibilities. Developing a plan for getting the kids to and from school, helping with homework, making nutritious meals, shopping and managing household chores is the everyday joy and challenge of parenting. For most parents, every decision is made with the children as the primary consideration.
The awesome responsibility of parenting can feel like a heavy burden, but our children are also a source of deep joy, and tremendous pride when we see our children thrive and prosper. When our children are in distress, we will move mountains in an effort to support them and help them overcome their challenges. When our children struggle in school, we are desperate to find partners in education who care enough about our children to see their unique abilities and great potential. Parents are grateful for the educators who genuinely care about helping their students get a great education.
Unfortunately, more and more, the parents are being shoved aside by the professional education administrators responsible for running our public education system at the federal and state level. On Sept. 30, Democratic President Joe Biden’s education secretary, Miguel Cardona, said parents shouldn’t be the “primary stakeholder” in their kids’ education during his testimony before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
But parents know that this is wrong. No one cares about a child as much as their parents. The parents are the ones who are primarily responsible for their children’s health, education, and upbringing. That means parents are the primary stakeholders in their children’s future and education, and as such, parents have the unalienable right to be part of the political process, be heard by their school districts and make decisions regarding their children’s education and healthcare.
Many of today’s public school administrators and professional educators have the “it takes a village” mentality. These “experts” seek to usurp the role of the parents; they find parents annoying. They work to educate our children to suit the government’s social and political agenda. They want to instill values and beliefs that support a particular political goal, rather than simply provide a great basic education. Today’s public school education seeks to weaken the role of the parents, destroy religious faith and undermine the beliefs, traditions and values that have made America great for hundreds of years.
Every day, across Washington state and across the country, parents feel the political pain of being disempowered and devalued by the education system. Our children appear to be political chess pieces and units of funding rather than valuable community members who deserve to know how to read, write, spell, solve basic math problems, and think logically. By failing to focus on the basics of education, the public education system is failing Washington families in a huge way.
The public school system was never intended to deliver two or three nutritious meals every day, provide medical and emotional care or teach political activism. Schools have one job: to prepare our children for a more prosperous future by teaching them “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic”. By trying to assume the role of “parent”, schools are failing to deliver the one product parents are looking for – a good education. The more the public schools fail at parenting, the more they blame parents for their failures.
Parents, you have the right to make medical choices that are appropriate for your children. You have the right to review the curriculum that your school has chosen. You have the right to opt your student out of curriculum that you believe are harmful and destructive. You have the right to ask your school to do a better job with meeting the basic educational needs of the community.
Parents and community members have the right to ask their school board to defend everyone’s right to participate in the political process. In all fairness, many school boards want more participation from their community members, not less! It’s time to ask your local school board to support a resolution standing up against political bullies. Local school boards across Washington must speak up against bullying from organizations like the National School Board Association, the Biden Department of Justice and the FBI.
YOU are the primary stakeholder in your child’s health, wellbeing, education and future. No one loves your child like you do. You are more than capable of being your student’s primary protector and advocate. Don’t allow any educational professional to demean your choices, your values, your concerns or your student. If your school feels like a toxic environment for your child, it’s time to leave. There are many options, and you can and will find the best way to protect, nurture, and educate your child. You can do it.
Nancy Churchill is the state committeewoman for the Ferry County Republican Party. She may be reached at DangerousRhetoric@pm.me. The opinions expressed in Dangerous Rhetoric are her own.