Kelly Sikkema, Creative Commons via Unsplash
California’s public school establishment to parents: We know best, so step aside

California’s public school establishment to parents: We know best, so step aside

California parents are at last in on the joke. They’re seeing (perhaps for the first time) that our public schools are failing our children – practicing invasive therapy as if that’s teaching, carrying out political indoctrination as if that’s education, insisting on vaccine mandates and masking for a population that’s hardly at risk (see the California Department of Public Health’s own statistics and you’ll learn that K-12 kids account for 0.0% of all COVID deaths in the state).

These are only recent failures in a system that routinely fails to educate kids — especially poor kids – and then blames others. Now, the teachers union is behind a new effort to eliminate the use of D’s and F’s (because we can’t have children feeling they haven’t mastered a skill!), and have already destroyed advanced math courses (can’t have some children feeling more accomplished than others!).

But it’s not enough to be anti – anti-mandate, anti-Critical Race Theory, anti-bizarre. It’s time to be for school choice – to bring to public education the kind of competition that puts parents in charge. When parents have a choice about which school their kids attend, public schools will either succeed in meeting parent expectations – or they’ll close.

California Policy Center’s Parent Union has been at the forefront of the school choice movement. This week: the story of a family that came to Parent Union for help.

Chase’s Story: Palm Desert High isolates a special needs student behind plexiglass 

When 17-year-old Chase Coughlin needed Palm Desert High School to accommodate his health conditions, school officials came up with a novel solution: they put the special needs student at a desk surrounded by plexiglass in the far corner of the classroom and told him not to interact with other students.

That sort of isolation would be tough on any kid. It was especially hard on Chase, who has autism, a two-chamber heart and one kidney. He’s unable to wear a mask and, because of his medical conditions, he has a vaccine exemption. But determined to stay in school with his friends, Chase tried to comply with district demands – and took his place in his plexiglass prison.

Then, 13 weeks ago, the Desert Sands Unified School District reversed course. Officials said they could no longer accommodate Chase unless he wore a mask. In the meantime, they sent him home and back to virtual “Zoom school.”

Chase’s mother Tara came to the Parent Union for help. Our Parent Union team worked with Chase to help him tell his story to the DSUSD school board last year, but school officials were unmoved.

So, we stepped up our efforts. Earlier this week, the Parent Union team traveled with Chase and Tara to Sacramento, where Chase spoke to hundreds of concerned parents at the “Our Children, Our Choice” rally. In the audience were dozens of Parent Union members holding “Team Chase” signs. Later, Chase said that when he saw those signs in the crowd, it hit home: he was no longer alone in his fight. He hopes his voice will finally be heard so he can simply go back to school.

Teachers union leaders and school officials present mandates as a simple solution to a complicated problem. They ignore the tradeoffs – the evidence that all kids, not just students like Chase, suffer mental distress that’s far more dangerous to them than the threat posed by COVID. But special needs students especially suffer these excessive COVID-19 protocols because of the loss of services and socialization – all in the name of “health and safety.”

At CPC’s Parent Union, we are on the side of the good guys. The Parent Union team meets with parents during very tense times, offering a sympathetic ear, strategy on how to push back, and the kind of support that lets parents know they’re not alone in their fight against radical government overreach.

Parent Union will continue to share stories to bring much-needed attention to parent concerns about the effects of lockdowns and mandates on special needs students across the state.


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