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Opinion

Parental rights are the key to fixing American education

Apr 07, 2023

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Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education

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The battle to give parents more say over their children’s education has become a headlining issue in today’s political arena. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis, R, signed into law the controversial “Parental Rights in Education” legislation, which critics call the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, on March 28. Advocates for school choice, which allows parents to send their kids to private schools with publicly-funded vouchers, are throwing their support behind GOP candidates who support the issue. These debates come amid declining confidence in U.S. public schools and concerns about ideological bias in classroom instruction.

Straight Arrow News contributor Star Parker says strengthening parental rights must happen if the goal is to fix American public school education.

All parents should have the right to send their children to the school of their choice. But those who send their children to a government school also have a right to know what is being taught in those schools and to make decisions about what is best for their children and their children’s education. 

It’s bad enough that the major teachers’ unions have decided to become advocates for one left-wing cause after another. They should not be allowed to indoctrinate children about their highly ideological agenda and to do so in a manner that hides this from the parents. Children’s test scores are basic skills. That’s what they should be in school for. And those test scores on these basic skills continued to decline, as many schools allow the curriculum to be diverted and core subjects to be neglected. In order to hide these failures, some school systems are proposing to eliminate or inflate grades and to forego universal testing, often invoked in the argument that this is being done in the name of equity, or to protect students’ self-esteem. This is a serious problem in our country right now. 

As America faces increasing global competition, particularly from countries that are hostile to our values and the concept of individual freedom, we cannot afford to let our students fall behind in any area, including in our values. Our culture has deteriorated that we can’t even recognize E Pluribus Unum anymore. Parents know what is best for their children. And they have a right to instill their values without fear of teachers or school administrators working to undermine their beliefs, working to undermine our very system and order in America. 

Recently here in Washington D.C., the conversations and debates about the rights of parents have ramped up. It’s regarding not only the confidence or lack thereof in our public school system, but also the transparency and insight into what students are being taught. Who would have known that we would get to this place to where we have to have a discussion about the rights of parents. 

Gallup routinely does polls surveying the confidence of Americans towards individual institutions. Institutions, such as the Congress, military, and even our banking system. I can imagine that confidence in that one will be at even lower place by this time next year. But they also measure confidence in our public schools, which is at a low of 28%. That’s down from the 32% of Americans’ confidence in their public schools last year; not much confidence in our public schools. One institution they don’t measure, however, which is probably the most important one, is that of parents and the foundation of a family. 

And that’s the conversation at hand. Empowering parents and the natural God-given rights that they possess as they steward through the life of their children, and serve their children and teach their children how to be responsible adults. All parents should have the right to send their children to the school of their choice. But those who send their children to a government school also have a right to know what is being taught in those schools and to make decisions about what is best for their children and their children’s education. 

It’s bad enough that the major teachers unions have decided to become advocates for one left-wing cause after another. They should not be allowed to indoctrinate children about their highly ideological agenda, and to do so in a manner that hides this from the parents. Children’s test scores are basic skills. That’s what they should be in school for. And those test scores on these basic skills continued to decline, as many schools allow the curriculum to be diverted and core subjects to be neglected. In order to hide these failures. some school systems are proposing to eliminate or inflate grades, and to forego universal testing, often invoked in the argument that this is being done in the name of equity, or to protect students’ self-esteem. This is serious problem in our country right now. 

As America faces increasing global competition, particularly from countries that are hostile to our values and the concept of individual freedom, we cannot afford to let our students fall behind in any area, including in our values. Our culture has deteriorated that we can’t even recognize E Pluribus Unum anymore. Parents know what is best for their children. And they have a right to instill their values without fear of teachers or school administrators working to undermine their beliefs, working to undermine our very system and order in America. 

You know, the good news is that Washington is having this discussion. Parental rights are important. And now that the GOP is here in Washington, D.C., they’re moving on a whole lot of areas to get our nation to where it said it wanted to go. One nation under God, with liberty and justice for all. And that ‘all’ includes parents.

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