My bias favors parental rights in how we raise our children. No one but me should decide when they’re old enough to play unsupervised; no one knows my kids better than I do. Schools have no place in religious training. Don’t dictate which books to withhold from my child. Whatever my opinion of spanking, parents need broad discretion to discipline their children.
We count on schools to provide the grounding for constructive participation in the adult community. Everyday life works best when most people can read, write, add, and subtract. We’re a healthier society if kids at puberty know where babies come from. It’s in the public interest for citizens to learn the basics of history, government, and science before they reach voting age.
My issue with “parental rights” is, which parents? According to the Parents’ Rights in Education website, “PRIE strives for the return of community values properly represented and reflected in school policies.” That’s to say, they want policies to reflect the traditional views of the majority, or the loudest voices.
The parental values I favor are individual, expressed family by family. Whether they are minority or majority views is irrelevant. School policies should leave those decisions to me, and so should other parents.
First of a three-part series. Next week: Social and Emotional Learning.
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I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.