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Give Parents a Say in Education? Imagine That!

Photo: A high school biology classroom, by Dannel Malloy, via Flickr (cropped).

Our colleague Andrew McDiarmid wrote an excellent op-ed for the New York Post on the insurgent movement in favor of giving parents a say in their children’s education. What, they think they know what’s best for their own kids? The gall of these people.

Actually, as with cancel culture, ID proponents and Darwin skeptics were well aware of this issue for years, long before it came to the forefront in the present moment. Academic freedom legislation, aimed at freeing teachers and students to discuss evolution objectively rather than as holy writ, has advanced in part because parents have taken action rather than letting education bureaucrats boss them around. And that’s very appropriate.

Talking Back to Bureaucrats

As McDiarmid explains, it’s not the government but parents who have the main responsibility for the education of young people:

Those looking to quell the pesky parental rebellion in America’s public schools need to face up to this simple, incontrovertible fact: parents are the primary educators of their children. From before they’re even born, parents teach their children by their words and deeds. As kids grow, parents often choose to partner with other parents, community leaders and teachers to amplify their children’s learning. But ultimate responsibility for the quality of a child’s education — physical, mental and spiritual — lies solely with parents.

Up until the early 1800s, many parents embraced the spiritual duty set out in the book of Proverbs to “train up a child in the way he should go,” with church-established schoolhouses striving to support them. But with increased immigration and urban development came the call to offer free government-subsidized schooling for all. What began as a lofty endeavor complete with non-denominational moral instruction has, in the modern era, descended into an environment openly hostile to the Judeo-Christian ideas that fueled Western civilization and our unique American experiment. As sociologist Susan Rose put it, the public school became “the substitute for the American national church.”

As publicly funded “experts” took over the role of educating American children, the role of parents was largely marginalized. Today, we’re reaping the consequences of that shift in responsibility.

The “experts” and bureaucrats overstepped themselves, and there’s a silver lining to that. It explains why parents are speaking up forcefully, and retaking their own historical role. For more information about getting involved in the context of science education, see the Free Science website with its Petition and Legislation pages.