Supporters of public schools forget that parents control children’s education

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A growing number of parents reject the teaching of public schools which they consider dangerous for their children. They have raised a collective voice against divisive approaches like critical race theory, radical gender politics, and the injection of awakened ideology into almost every school subject. And they make the difference.

After winning the Virginia gubernatorial race earlier this month largely on an educational platform, Glenn Youngkin assured parents in Virginia he’s in their corner: “We will restore excellence. in our schools… We will embrace our parents, not ignore them. ”

But many supporters of public education are not so welcoming to parents. Youngkin’s adversary, Terry McAuliffe, assumed that parents should not tell schools what to teach. Former President Barack Obama echoed his sentiments, calling parents’ concerns “false cultural wars invented from scratch. ” A recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, education professor Jack Schneider calls parents’ efforts “conspiratorial fantasies,” comments won congratulations on Twitter by Randi Weingarten, head of one of the largest teachers’ unions in the country. Another education teacher, Christina Wyman, said it even more an opinion piece from NBC News: “Parents, community members and politicians who are not qualified to teach should keep their noses out of school curricula. And in a calculated attempt to frighten parents and silence their dissent, the liberal advocacy group National School Boards Association called on President Biden to intervene, calling the angry parents a “form of domestic terrorism.” Less than a week later, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a memo activating the FBI to investigate local “threats of violence” against school boards.

Those seeking to quell the pesky parental rebellion in American public schools must face this simple and indisputable fact: Parents are the primary educators of their children. From before their birth, parents teach their children through their words and actions. As children grow older, parents often choose to partner with other parents, community leaders, and teachers to amplify their children’s learning. But the ultimate responsibility for the quality of a child’s education – physical, mental and spiritual – rests solely with parents.

Teachers Union President Randi Weingarten, Attorney General Merrick Garland and former President Barack Obama have dismissed the concerns of American parents about education.
Stefan Jeremiah for NY Post; Getty Images (2)

Until the early 1800s, many parents embraced the spiritual duty spelled out in the book of
Proverbs for “educating a child in the way he should go,” with schools established by the church striving to support them. But with the increase in immigration and urban development came the call to provide free, government-subsidized education for all. What began as a noble enterprise supplemented by non-denominational moral education has, in modern times, descended into an environment openly hostile to the Judeo-Christian ideas that fueled Western civilization and our unique American experience. As sociologist Susan Rose has said, public school has become “the substitute for the American national church.”

While publicly funded “experts” took on the role of educating American children, the role of parents was largely marginalized. Today, we are reaping the consequences of this transfer of responsibility.

Meanwhile, more and more parents are choosing to take on the role of primary educator for their children. At the start of the 2020-21 school year, the number of school-aged children receiving homeschooling in the United States more than doubled from the previous year to 11.1%, and a a new study suggests homeschooled children are healthier, happier, and more likely to attend religious services than many public school graduates.

Parents in New Mexico (above) are showing their dissatisfaction with public education policies, a movement that has grown nationwide.
Parents in New Mexico (above) are showing their dissatisfaction with public education policies, a movement that has grown nationwide.
AP Photo / Cedar Attanasio

What really qualifies someone to teach? While learning the “science” of teaching can be helpful, especially for classroom teaching of multiple students, it is the basics that justify it: a willingness to invest your time, the wisdom to respond the physical and spiritual as well as mental needs of the student, and restraint in teaching How? ‘Or’ What think rather than What to think.

Teaching children to think requires a partnership between parents and the educational community. Without the parents producing the children who populate public schools, there would be no public schools or school boards to govern them. Public schools would do well to remember this and start showing parents the respect they deserve.

Andrew McDiarmid is a Principal Investigator at the Discovery Institute. He taught in a college class for six years and holds a master’s degree in teaching and a teaching certificate in Washington state. Join him on Twitter: @amcdiarmid.

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