“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” Those words, spoken by Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe during a Sept. 28, 2021, debate sent shockwaves through taxpaying parent’s living rooms. Many believe it contributed mightily to McAuliffe’s defeat and could spell trouble for like-minded Democrats in the fall elections. McAuliffe’s remark reflects a view held by many Democrats and their constituents like the National Education Association, a teacher’s union. They believe the government – not parents – should control the education of America’s children.
Parental control has become a major issue as some school districts teach sex education, including sexual identity, while adopting trans-sexual restrooms and dressing rooms. Marxist critical race theory and the controversial “1619 Project,” once confined to higher education kooks, has now invaded secondary education curriculum, pitting one race against another while attempting to rewrite American history. Meanwhile, some parents became targets of the Biden administration which outrageously ordered the Justice Department to investigate parents expressing their concerns at school board meetings. Parents’ fears are merited.
Education Week, a trade publication, recently reported that about 500 school districts around the country are rating teacher applicants according to their “cultural competency,” code words for “wokeness” and critical race theory. The Federalist reports that many of these districts are contracting with a teacher-hiring company called Nimble, which uses artificial intelligence to examine applications and interview answers to determine which candidates harbor the correct political and cultural attitudes.
The battle over parental rights – especially in education – has become a major issue as the Missouri General Assembly convenes for the 2022 session. One lawmaker, State Rep. Craig Fishel, R-Springfield, has asked his local school district to provide documents related to critical race theory, but administrators have balked. Administrators have denied that critical race theory is being taught, but teacher training sessions have suggested otherwise. Frustration is mounting. More than 200 parents gathered at the State Capitol Jan. 5 to urge lawmakers to protect their rights and their children. More rallies are planned.
At least four bills have been introduced in the Missouri House of Representatives dealing with parental rights and their children’s education. One is House Joint Resolution No. 110, introduced by State Rep. Phil Christofanelli, R-St. Peters. If passed by the House and Senate, it will go on the November ballot for voters to decide. If approved it would amend the Missouri Constitution, adding: “That the parents of Missouri’s children have a fundamental right to participate in and direct the education of their children. It goes on to say that parents will:
• Have access to school curricula and lesson plans.
• Access to contract negotiations between the district and labor groups.
• School choice options.
• The right to opt their children out of classroom for any presentation of content listed in the syllabus with which they disagree.
• The right to control images of their children in district materials.
• The right to control their children’s health and identifying markers including, but not limited to, the right to opt out of health measures not required by state order or statute.
Two other bills, called the “Parents Bill of Rights Act of 2022,” have been introduced by State Reps. John Wiemann and Nick Schroer, both Republicans from O’Fallon. Both do everything contained in House Joint Resolution 110, but add additional rights like requiring schools to notify parents about violent activity and affirming parents’ right to speak at school board meetings. Schroer’s bill specifically targets curriculum that includes critical race theory. The bill prohibits school districts, charter schools and their personnel from teaching, using, or providing such curriculum or from teaching, affirming or promoting any of the claims, views or opinions found in the “1619 Project.”
State Rep. Chuck Bayse, R-Rocheport, introduced a bill that requires school districts and charter schools to make any curriculum materials and human sexuality instruction relating to sexual orientation and gender identity available for public inspection and allow parents to remove students from instruction on human sexuality, sexual orientation, or gender identity. Senate Majority Floor Leader Caleb Rowden, R-Columbia, told the Missouri Chamber of Commerce at its Sept. 4 legislative briefing that education will be a priority in the Senate this session.
God intends for parents, not the government, to have the primary responsibility for training their children. This is clear from Deut. 6:4-7; Proverbs 1:8, 4:1, 6:20, 10:1, 13:1, 15:20, 23:22 and 31:1; Eph. 6:1-4 and Col. 3:20-21. In all of these passages, notice the complete absence of any indication that government has the responsibility for training children or for deciding what children should be taught.