- The concept of teaching critical race theory has driven parents mad.
- Many of them have taken to school board meetings to express their anger.
- Parents should not get to decide what belongs and what doesn't in a public school curriculum.
- Matt Walton is an educator in Virginia.
- This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
Terry McAuliffe, Democratic candidate for Governor of Virginia, has been under fire after he made remarks in the final gubernatorial debate regarding parental input and involvement into Virginia public schools.
McAuliffe, whom I've endorsed, said in his final debate with Republican nominee Glenn Younkin, that "I don't think parents should be telling schools what they should teach."
The comment was made in reference to Youngkin's argument that parents should be more involved in the decisions of local school districts, since Youngkin has raised the issue of critical race theory throughout the campaign. This despite the fact that critical race theory is not in Virginia's educational curriculum nor is it being taught in Virginia public schools.
McAuliffe's reaction has drawn a lot of criticism and even an attack ad from Youngkin; however, as a teacher I couldn't agree more with McAuiliffe.
Parents have an important role in the education process, no doubt, but when it comes to what is being taught, that should be left up to elected and appointed professionals that have a background in education and actual experience with teaching. Just because a parent disagrees with something doesn't make what they disagree with inappropriate for the classroom.
Parents tend to let their personal views cloud what they think should and should not be taught in schools. Being an educated person means that you are a well-rounded person. A well-rounded person learns about many different topics and perspectives.
Parents that are demanding to have a say in what is and isn't taught need to think about the consequences of their demands.
At best, parents dictating what teachers teach could lead to dangerous inaccuracies in the many facets of education. At worst, it could poison our students' minds with nonsensical dribble.
Imagine if InfoWars conspiracy theorist Alex Jones had a say in what was being taught in his child's school. Jones, who recently was found liable over his Sandy Hook hoax conspiracy, claimed that the 2012 shooting, in which 20 children and six school employees were shot dead at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, was fabricated by gun-control advocates and mainstream media as a false flag operation.
If you open the door to one or a group of parents to dictate what is being taught then you have opened the floodgates to any parent that wants to control the educational content in classrooms.
In a lot of states, parents already have an oversized influence on what is taught when it comes to sex education. In 37 states plus Washington DC, parents are allowed to opt their child out of sex education. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 20 states and Washington DC require provision of information on contraception and parents have the choice in 37 states and Washington DC to opt out their child from sex education classes.
Many of these restrictions have come from the demands of parents in these communities and states. These restrictions pose a barrier to students' education because they are not able to fully learn all aspects of sexual health.
As an educator, I've worked on developing and writing curriculum for multiple states and many courses covering a wide range of topics. What content goes into a course's curriculum is carefully thought out over an extended period of time and with input from various subject matter experts.
Oftentimes, once the curriculum is written and completed, it is piloted and revised even before it is fully implemented.
Parents do have an indirect way of deciding what schools teach through electing people that are on school boards and state level offices. These elected officials either make decisions about what will be taught in schools or appoint or confirm members of state boards of education that make these policies. Parents have every right to make their voice heard by speaking at school board meetings or open public forms at meetings, but they should not dictate what is being taught.
One of the best way that a parent can be involved in their child's education is to engage in a respectful way with what is actually going on inside their child's school by going to back-to-school night, parent teacher conferences, and attending PTA or PTSA meetings.
Teachers want parents to be engaged in the educational process, but controlling what teachers can educate their students on is detrimental to schools everywhere.