Parents must be allowed to have input in their children’s courses. Parents must be allowed to voice their concerns, questions, and objections at school board meetings. When did that become so controversial? When did it become so partisan?
It became a national firestorm when Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat’s nominee for governor of Virginia, said parents should not be involved. This is especially troubling since McAuliffe had already been Governor and the Democratic Party’s National Chairman.
After 20 months of our lives being limited and micro-managed by Governor Wolf and mandates issued by previously unknown health secretaries and unaccountable agencies, we’ve had enough. Enough of “smart people” telling us what to do, issuing dictates with a sense of intellectual and moral superiority. Enough of public servants forgetting that they work for us.
The disturbing trend of some school boards becoming hostile to parents, dismissive of parents’ concerns and even lying to parents has been getting worse in 2021 and it must end.
The sad reality is that this arrogant, dictatorial attitude is even worse when it’s at our school boards. Why? Because this is the most local of all forms of government—neighbor talking to neighbor. This is where we are supposed to be “all in this together” for our children.
The sad reality is that this arrogant, dictatorial attitude is even worse when it’s at our school boards.
In 2020 and 2021, public school parents asked reasonable questions. If Catholic Schools (or private, independent or charter schools) are open; what aren’t our schools? Yet too many schools stayed closed for too long, with too many board members dismissing questions about in-person learning.
Many parents had even more reasons to be concerned. With classes taking place online, parents actually heard teachers’ lessons. Parents had a front row seat to “CRT” (critical race theory), its mindset—and other shocking lectures about race, American history and family life.
Only after persistence did the school board denials and misdirections lead to admissions: yes, race was being discussed in classes—with an emphasis on “institutional racism,” “victims,” and “oppressors.” But parents were then told that they could not see the actual curriculum; or they could—if they signed non-disclosure agreements.
There are countless more stories: school board members physically moving speakers away from the microphone when they’ve “heard enough” or school board members telling bald-faced lies to parents.
How did we get here, to a place where neighbors ignore or deceive neighbors? When school board members become self-proclaimed experts on healthcare; sociology; race-relations; etc.—so expert that they do not need to hear comments or questions from parents?
There are several solutions—not the least of which is that elected officials should remember that it’s called “public service” for a reason.
Public comment periods could occasionally be scheduled at the start of meetings, not the end. Parents and taxpayers should be invited to offer suggested topics for future Board meetings.
School districts should be required to publish course curricula and textbook lists on their district webpage.
There is a more fundamental, basic change needed: empower parents. Allow parents to move their child (and their tax dollars) to another school.
READ MORE — A government big enough to give you everything you want is one big enough to take away everything you have
For years, “school choice” was about helping parents rescue their kids from failing schools—schools with historically poor performance or that are unsafe. The focus was on lower-income families who couldn’t afford to transfer their child to a tuition-based school. The “EITC” charitable-contribution scholarship program has helped thousands of those students—but, sadly, demand outpaces need.
But, now there is another reason for school choice: protecting the power of parents over their children’s education.
True school choice would help families whose kids are in districts with curricula that parents disagree with or feel would harm their children; or, where parents believe that mandates would harm their development.
In all those cases, school choice would bring about something else: accountability. Districts losing children would have to respond to parents’ choices. Districts that don’t see an exodus would be recognized for providing quality education—and being respectful of parents.
School choice would empower parents; give children the opportunity to succeed by offering more quality choices and ensure accountability. This would help change the culture in our school districts.
Our next governor must pledge to ensure that parents are always welcomed, encouraged, and empowered to be involved in their children’s education.
Guy Ciarrocchi is a Republican candidate for Governor, and a frequent contributor to B&L. He can be reached at GUYforGOV.com