The Rights of Parents

Sometimes it seems that once you drop your children off at the door of the school that your rights as parents seem to disappear. This is one of the most disturbing things about sending your child off to school and to public school in particular. In many subtle ways, the school seems to send the message to you that you should go home and bake cookies and not meddle in what is going on in that school. And many parents just blindly accept that implied relationship as long as the children come home relatively happy and seem to be passing so they can move on to the next grade.

But we, as parents, must remember that at no time does anyone have the ability to take away your right to know what is going on with your child and what he or she is being taught. You gave birth to those children and pour all of your love and caring into them so they will be able to reflect your values and grow into good, responsible people with the values of their parents.

Just because it’s time for the kids to go to public school, all of that caring and parenting you put in doesn’t go out the door. We do not live in a dictatorial state where we turn over our kids to the state to be raised to be good little soldiers and echo whatever state driven dogma they are being taught at school. And while this depiction of what goes on at school is a bit harsh and overly dramatic, you do have the right to question what is being taught at your children’s schools and object to any “indoctrination” that may be going on.

The first line of defense that you as a good parent may have equipped your child with is the right to question authority in a respectful way. Now some of what is being taught is cut and dried facts that there is no reason to question. We know algebra works, basic physics have been proven and history, for the most part, is history.

But there are other subjects that are more speculative. Much has been made in the last few years of subjects or approaches to subjects that have been promoted at public schools that amount to opinion or a political or religious orientation that is not the school’s right or responsibility to promote. So if you have taught your child they have the right to disagree with opinion or speculative teaching and they get in trouble for disagreeing with the school authorities, you are well within your rights to come to their defense.

Schools do attempt to keep parents out of the daily operation of the school simply because to have hundreds of parents getting involved in the classrooms would be chaos. And when we turn out kids over to the school to conduct classes, the implied contract is that we will give them the leverage to conduct those classes without us getting underfoot.

But that does not pass all of your rights as a parent to control both the environment of where your child will spend the day and the slant that the school may be putting on the teaching that is taking place. You have the right to be an active parent and look over the books and the syllabus of what your child is being taught. You have a right to know if what is being taught is grounded in fact or is theory and speculation so you can monitor if there is any “indoctrination”, however subtle, that is taking place.

The public schools will resist your efforts to stay informed and to exercise your right to know what is going on down there. They do that based on the faulty assumption that you have no alternatives. But you do have choices. You can always take your child out of public schools who are overstepping their rights and put them in private schools who will respect your wishes, your viewpoints and the rights of your children to a good education based on facts, not opinions and conjecture.

So let’s keep in mind that we do have resources to turn to if the school our children are in will not take parents rights into consideration. By using good old market pressure on the schools, we can keep them honest and doing a good job for our kids.

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