The politicization of the classroom has created a great awakening for parents. Truth be told, in many families too much education has been outsourced to the state without much thought. Pandemic shutdowns have changed all that. Learning loss has changed the trajectory of the status quo. Further evidence of politicized classrooms, whether through viral videos or parents witnessing instructions on Zoom, has propelled calls for change. A parent’s bill of rights is the first step toward empowerment in the face of an education system that doesn’t always have the best interests of the student in mind.
The John Locke Foundation recently released its version of a Parents’ Bill of Rights for North Carolina. The document affirms five truths and rights, placing the family at the centre. Contrary to the worldview of many school administrators and teachers’ unions, this is essential because families are the moral fountains of society. A healthy culture and civilization stems from the strength of the nuclear family. Politicized agendas like critical race theory and gender ideology not only disrupt family life, but can completely undermine the values that parents wish to instill in their children.
“Many parents feel increasingly powerless about what their children are exposed to in the classroom. These feelings have been exacerbated by an increasingly radicalized curriculum and pandemic-era policies, such as stopping or postponing in-person school board meetings,” said Dr. Terry Stoops, director of the Locke’s Center for Effective Education. Stoops went on to say that parents need to be empowered in the education decision-making process and that schools need to be more transparent.
The truth is that public education is ripe for reform. The pandemic has exposed this to the public like nothing else. Unfortunately, a lot of mistrust has been sewn up from politicians claiming that some unpopular curricula on race or gender were not taught in schools only to later be found to be false.
Moreover, resistance to woke ideologies has increased over the past two years, and education is becoming a crucial issue at the polls. Virginia turned out to be ground zero, especially when the governor at the time. Terry McAuliffe said: “I don’t think parents should tell schools what to teach.
Given the politicization of so many schools and our increasingly pluralistic society, a bill of rights is the fundamental starting point for educational reform. One of the great strengths of the document presented by the John Locke Foundation is the right to grant parents the power to decide how and where their child is educated. A statewide funding system where the dollars follow the child is long overdue in North Carolina, especially as nearly a quarter of all K-12 students attend are already withdrawing from traditional public schools. Families have different needs, so education should be more than a one-size-fits-all bureaucratic model that ignores deeper learning components like spiritual formation or even taints America’s rich heritage in the name of indoctrination.
Most parents don’t want a politicized upbringing. Most parents aren’t interested in simply reinforcing a system that protects the bureaucratic status quo at the expense of students.
If the excessive interest was really student achievement, at some point, measures of academic achievement would have shown improvement. Instead, most metrics show declining or stagnant data. Ultimately, keeping children trapped in specific schools for the benefit of unions or high-paying administrators makes little sense unless the goal is a political goal centered on control and power. Lawmakers should listen to parents across North Carolina who already vote with their feet — and they should fully implement a system of school choice that separates education from the control of politicized special interests.
Americans are unlikely to unite again politically or culturally for some time; universal choice is the only equitable option for our growing cultural and political diversity.
Ray Nothstine is an editor of the Carolina Journal and a Second Amendment fellow at the John Locke Foundation.