It is no accident, no coincidence. And it’s not just your imagination. There really is a steady trend by the government and the courts to remove the influence of parents from the public schools.
I’m not saying your child’s teacher or principal, or even your local school board, is out to get you. Nor am I suggesting some giant system-wide conspiracy, where some shadow organization is secretly working through all different channels to rob you of your rights.
It is something bigger and more dangerous than that.
What we are witnessing is the rise of an ideology, a statist mindset that actually believes that “expert” agents of the state can make better decisions for your child than you can.
In 1979 the Supreme Court held, “The statist notion that governmental power should supersede parental authority in all cases because some parents abuse and neglect children is repugnant to American tradition.” Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979), at 603. Unfortunately, a growing, powerful minority no longer find that idea repugnant today.
Instead, they argue that because not all parents are experts in education, parents should not be trusted with educational decisions for their child. Education is far too important; it must be kept in the hands of the experts.
This trend is seen in court cases such as Fields v. Palmdale (2005),which held that parents have no say in what, when, or how their children are taught about controversial subjects in the public schools; and Parker v. Hurley (2007), which held that parents have no right to opt their children out of objectionable material, even if it does not involve a core curricular subject.
It is also seen in legislative action, such as Congress’s 2009 defunding of a voucher program in D.C. that allowed low income families to make school choices for their children. And that perfectly parallels a lawsuit brought in 2013 by the federal government against the state of Louisiana in an attempt to end a similar educational choice program in that state.
For those of you keeping score, our list now covers all three branches of the federal government: the judiciary, the legislative, and the executive.
Perhaps the greatest example of this intrusive statist mindset, however, has been the push to adopt the Common Core State Standards. Conceived by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and fleshed out by trade unions in D.C., the Common Core includes “curriculum standards” that all states must adopt in order to be eligible for federal “Race to the Top” education dollars.
Under Common Core, local school districts and even state departments of education are losing authority over education decisions to a smaller and more centralized group of “experts” who are further away from and less accountable to the real experts: the parents and local school teachers who know those children and work to meet their needs every day.
Common Core is also coupled with a scheme to create a national database of American students. Proponents claim it will allow educators to tailor curriculum to the individual student’s needs, but critics see it as a ploy to help big businesses exploit student data for advertising revenue.
Fortunately, parents have started to push back. Several states that adopted the Common Core have since reversed that decision; five states declined to adopt it in the first place. And other states where Common Core was implemented this school year are still seeing parents and lawmakers pushing to retake control of education from the centralized federal powers behind this program.
The ultimate way to push back, of course, will come in 2016 with our newly concerted effort to push the Parental Rights Amendment through the U.S. Congress. This Amendment to the Constitution will secure the “fundamental right” of parents “to direct the upbringing, education, and care of their children,” including “the right to choose public, private, religious, or home schools, and the right to make reasonable choices within public schools for one’s child.”
If you have friends or family members, with children in the public schools, who are concerned about Common Core or about the loss of their ability to influence the culture in their child’s educational surroundings, be sure to let them know about the PRA. It will not let one family dictate the curriculum for an entire school, but it will allow parents to make choices for their own child, such as the choices that Fields and Parker took away.
Your tax dollars pay for the public schools. Yet elitist bureaucrats are making them unsafe for parental rights while pushing their own statist worldview. And anywhere unsafe for parents is unsafe for children.
Working together, we can reverse this trend and restore the rights of parents in the education of their children.