John McCroskey Commentary: How Dare Parents Demand a Say in Their Kids’ Education?

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The election Tuesday and the slate of candidates who put themselves out there for consideration is a good sign for our future, especially when it’s qualified people with good will and not an agenda. 

I’m not sure I’ve ever seen this much attention locally and nationally for the position of school board but it looks like there are a lot of concerned parents out there over what is being taught (some might say indoctrinated) by some teachers.

COVID-19 and shuttering schools for a year exposed all this.

In Virginia, the governor's race appeared to turn sharply away from the Democrat Terry McAuliffe after he made the statement in a debate that parents should not have a say in what is being taught in our public schools. 

And he lost in part because parents turned out.

Locally, on a Facebook post my wife somehow received, there were comments like “homeschool and stop harassing teachers, administrators and school boards.” So in this person’s world, objecting or questioning what schools are doing is harassment and not acceptable?

Also they wrote, “I’m not sure where this parents-should-control-what-is- taught-in-schools-because-they-are-our-kids is originating, but parents do have the right to send their kids to a hand selected private school if they want at their own expense.”

The writer went on to say that the purpose of public education in a public school is not to teach kids only what parents want them to be taught. It is to teach them what society needs them to know. The client of the public school is not the parent, but the entire community — the public.

I used all the hyphens in the quote and didn’t bold, or underline the areas she did, but you get the idea.

And that’s the thinking that likely led to the election of Kelsi Hamilton to the Chehalis School Board, and to parents revolting across the country.

I actually don’t disagree with this writer if — and only if — the money we pay in taxes to the school district is made available to parents who want to form homeschooling cooperatives, or to private schools if the parents want to send them there. Grandparents too.

Ah, but there's the rub — they don’t. 

And every attempt to even add charter schools as an option gets shot down by our courts after lawsuits that usually include the teachers unions.

So as this writer so cavalierly points out, parents can send their kids to a “handpicked” private school but they also have to pay for both. For many, that’s not financially possible.

What people who think this way forget is that it is important to teach kids how to do math, read and write well, and history in context with the period and thinking when it occurred.

After that, they shouldn’t teach what to think, but how.

After the schools shut down, and the revelation of how much input the teacher unions had in dictating how they will reopen — which wasn’t science, just politics — the proverbial cat is out of the bag. Parents are acutely aware of what’s been force fed some kids, including that white people are bad and America is systemically racist.

We're not and America isn't.

I’m told that’s not happening here and that there are many great things going on in Chehalis schools. That’s the good news. The bad news is, how long before the state threatens local schools over some political ideology again and cuts off their funds?

But across this country parents are very aware now. 

They just flexed their muscles in the blue state of Virginia and I suspect, politics aside, we’ll see a lot more school board elections (and other races as well) on just this kind of issue.

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John McCroskey was Lewis County sheriff from 1995 to 2005. He lives outside Chehalis and can be contacted at musingsonthemiddlefork@gmail.com.