The Year of the Parent
Battle lines have been drawn, the war is on, and the great parent awakening of 2021 will have permanent consequences.
Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, my parents could send me off to school and assume I would be taught by people who shared their values. Those days are long gone, however. To be sure, most educators today work hard, and do their best to give kids a balanced education. But there are too many who don’t, and parents are rightfully worried. In fact, according to a Fox News survey, 80 percent of parents are “extremely” or “very” concerned about what our public schools are teaching. Whether it is the sexualization of six-year-olds, white kids being told they are oppressors, or children being forced to chant Aztec prayers, many parents are fed up. A few recent examples:
- In Broward County, Florida, a teacher took her elementary school students to a gay bar as a way to learn about the homosexual community.
- In eastern Kentucky, students gave lap dances to the staff as part of Hazard High School’s homecoming week festivities.
- In Loudoun County, Virginia, a high school boy wearing a dress has been accused of raping a girl in the women’s bathroom, the second time he has been accused. Neither case was pursued by the district superintendent, who, when asked about why he didn’t act, incoherently blamed Donald Trump’s rejiggering of Title IX regulations. One particularly insightful student put things into perspective: “If you can make a child stay home for refusing to wear a mask, you can also make a child stay home for raping another student.”
With parents now awakening, there is a campaign afoot to diminish their input on what children are learning in school. After the National School Boards Association sent a well-publicized letter to President Biden on September 29, in which the organization contended that there is a serious threat to our “schools and its (sic) education leaders” due to a “growing number of threats of violence and acts of intimidation (at school board meetings) occurring across the country,” the organization was rightly excoriated for it, and on October 22 issued an apology. It seems that the communiqué was the work of NSBA CEO Chip Slaven and president Viola Garcia, with no board input. But apparently, there’s more to the story. According to emails obtained by Parents Defending Education through public records requests, the NSBA was in talks with White House officials for several weeks before sending its letter. For her collusion in the fraud, you might think that Mrs. Garcia would disappear from the scene. But no, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona has appointed Ms. Garcia to the National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the NAEP tests known as “the Nation’s Report Card.”
On October 4, five days after the original NSBA letter, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a directive to the FBI, stating, “In recent months, there has been a disturbing spike in harassment, intimidation, and threats of violence against school administrators, board members, teachers, and staff who participate in the vital work of running our nation’s public schools.” Parents across the country – and a few U.S. Senators – have taken great exception to Garland’s missive. Additionally, a civil rights lawsuit was filed on October 19 by a coalition of parents, who contend that Garland’s directing the FBI to investigate and potentially prosecute “threats leveled by parents against school board members” is really intended to “chill speech.”
The “Democracy Dies in Darkness” crowd over at the Washington Post, has weighed in on the culture war. In “Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t,” the authors blame Republicans for fomenting parent unrest, insisting that the GOPers are paranoid, involved in voter suppression, and trying to stoke “White racial grievance.” In a rant that would make George Orwell’s head spin, the authors trash school choice, falsely claim CRT is not taught in public schools, and maintain that the “sudden push for parental rights” is a “political tactic.”
Parents are not buying what the NSBA, Garland, WaPo, et al. are selling, however. The National Center for Education Statistics recently published K-12 enrollment data for the 2020–21 school year, and it showed a 3% drop – about 1.5 million kids from the 51 million enrolled in the previous year. The largest segment of the leavers and no-shows were kindergarteners and pre-k kids, whose enrollment dropped by 13% last year. Additionally, homeschooling has been booming. The Census Bureau reports that between 2012 and 2020, the number of homeschooling families remained steady at around 3.3%. But by May 2020, about 5.4% of U.S. households with school-aged children reported they were homeschooling. And by October 2020, the number jumped to 11.1%. Granted many of the exiting kids have departed due to excessive Covid mandates, but to be sure, many have been pulled in response to their local school’s radical bent.
Writing about the woke revolution in Commentary, Bari Weiss asserts, “If cowardice is the thing that has allowed for all of this, the force that stops this cultural revolution can also be summed up by one word: courage. And courage often comes from people you would not expect.”
Weiss is right. Many of the 80 percent of moms and dads who are concerned about what their children are learning, have begun to act. They are going to school board meetings, running for a seat if possible, joining with other parents in pro-family organizations, initiating lawsuits where necessary, homeschooling their kids or sending them to private schools.
As children exit government-run schools due to various abuses, districts are beginning to panic. You see, each child represents a bundle of cash to them, and they have taken to advertising via radio ads, bus benches, TikTok, etc., as a way “to help families feel good about the schools.” But many parents have wised up, and are rebelling. As such, 2021 will be remembered as the Year of the Parent.
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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.