Who is the Parent Anyway?

Frog - Progressive Ed2The recent vaccine debate translates well into the parental rights debate. Let’s stop focusing, for just a few minutes, on whether vaccines may cause autism or the herd immunity issue because there is much more to this than that. The debate should center on whether parents are allowed to question whether it is in the best interest of their child to be injected with the vaccine. Do parents have a right to decide what goes into their child’s body? Do they have the right to say “no, not for my child” just as much as a parent has the right to say “yes, I agree with the majority”? Are decisions about Americans made based on what the government says is best for the community while ignoring individual rights?

That’s enough about vaccines.  Let’s shift to education. Do parents have a right to question what goes into their child’s mind during school hours? The same could be asked about whether teachers have that right but let’s focus on parents for now. To be fair, parents in general gave up their voice long ago. They may be involved in the PTO/PTA or volunteering in their school , however regarding issues such as standards adopted, assessments used, the ability to opt out of assessment and other State matters, that was handed over to the State long ago when the Iowa and U.S. Department of Educations (DOE) were established. The Iowa DOE was established in 1913 however it wasn’t until 1980, when the U.S. DOE was established, that parental input in schools really started its downhill slide to where we are today. Most won’t notice the decline over time. We are the frog in the pot of water warming to boil on the stove. We do not notice how the climate has changed over time. That is the nature of the progressive movement…. create change slowly over the generations so the masses do not notice what they have lost in freedom until it is too late.

When education decisions are made at the state or, worse, federal level, parents are cut out of the process. What we gain in economies of scale, we lose in local and parental control. Progressive lip service to the inquisitive parent is not true parental input. It is only meant to pacify parents and make them go away feeling that they have been heard. Pacification is not always as nuanced at the local level. Recently, when a parent expressed his concerns to a district superintendent in Iowa regarding Smarter Balanced Assessments, he was told to “bow out of this discussion” if he was not an educator. Apparently, even in some local districts, parents do not even have a seat at the table when the real conversations about education occur. To be fair, not all districts are this dismissive of parents. However, in many cases, educators are not used to parents questioning their decisions to the extent that we have seen lately. District school officials are caught between the parents who have the biggest stake in education (and therefore SHOULD have the most involvement) and the state and federal government who holds the purse strings and create the regulations that keep their departments in business. All interested parties need to find a way to truly work together because parents are concerned about more than just school start dates.

The Iowa Department of Education has asked for public feedback about NGSS – Next Generation Science Standards. Two options are given…. an online survey and four public forums throughout the state. I would like to suggest a third option in addition to the first two. Email your Iowa Board of Education members, Yvette McCulley (Science Consultant, Iowa DOE), and Staci Hupp Ballard (Chief, Bureau Communications and Information Services) and explain to them why your child deserves a science education that rates higher than a C by the Fordham Institute. Get to know these individuals. Your child may thank you one day.

A few questions on the NGSS forum…

1. Will enough parents find their voice and show up?

2. Will the Iowa Board of Education listen to feedback or has the decision already been made?

We will know soon and that will answer the real question…. Who really is the parent? The State or Mom and Dad?

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