Arguably one of the best things to happen from the SARS-CoV-2 panic was forcing children home to learn. Parents found their schools are indoctrination centers for critical race theory, LGBT issues, and climate change.
Consequently, many parents who never saw themselves as home educators in March of last year have now embraced homeschooling as a way of life, refusing to return to public school.
As a former public-school teacher, home educator, and outspoken advocate of homeschooling, this is excellent news to me, but many lessons remain for public school parents and community members who want public schools to provide the services for which they pay dearly. Here are several ways parents’ own habits contribute to the failures of public schools.
1. Parents Believe It’s Someone Else’s Job to Educate Their Kids
“Mom and dad can hardly wait ‘til school will start again,” we’re told in the quintessential song of winter, “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas.” Although this song was published in 1951, parents had long before begun to accept the brainwashing of Horace Mann that public schools were the repositories of all knowledge. Later, socialist John Dewey convinced administrators that public schools were to promote democracy by instituting social change—something parents couldn’t possibly do.
Little by little, educrats began to convince parents public schools could parent and educate their children better than parents could. Now, every year, parents dutifully line up their offspring, fill out the required paperwork, and hand them over, with few questions asked.
Once parents trusted public schools to bring up their kids, they abandoned their jobs as the primary educators of their children, leaving public schools free rein over everything from discipline to curricula. Consequently, lots of parents today wonder how they’ve graduated children they don’t know and who don’t have their values.
Until parents like the ones in California profiled for a recent City Journal article wake up to the understanding that many schools do not have the best interests of their children at heart, public schools will continue to take over that job and provide a main course of indoctrination with a side order of education.
2. Parents Have Abandoned Their Authority on School Boards
I have met very few parents who have ever been to a school board meeting. Some have told me they feel intimidated because they don’t understand what goes on (going regularly would solve that problem), but others simply don’t want to take a night out to hear a bunch of “boring” stuff that doesn’t interest them.
Here’s the thing: school boards should be made up of parents of current school students whose job it is to hire all staff, including teachers and superintendents, and guide curricula and budget decisions on behalf of their children. Because parents have abandoned their authority for these decisions, school boards are now generally composed of people who desire an elected position of power in their community more than they desire parental influence in education.
They then keep that power by holding parents at arm’s length and assuring them they know what’s best for students while they rubber stamp everything a leftist university-trained superintendent wants. After all, what do parents know? They’re not educators. They haven’t been through the training.
Add to this the fact that school board associations, which usually train school board members, are permeated with educrats who believe parents are generally stupid and only they have the keys to educating children. This phenomenon is obvious when you click around the websites for the two national school board groups, NASBE and NSBA. NASBE helped push Common Core and NSBA is now pushing the Marxist equity nonsense.
Any parent or grandparent who decides to throw his or her hat into the school board ring out of genuine concern frequently has the hat thrown back in a forceful and ugly way by the educrats local citizens have empowered by abandoning their interaction with their school boards.
3. Parents Make Excuses for Their Kids and Administrators Allow It
I saw it all the time as a teacher. Kids would be disruptive in class. I would send them to the office. Within minutes, they were returned to be disruptive in class. This cycle occurred repeatedly, invariably because the principal knew the kid was a problem and didn’t want to deal with the parent, so I became the person paid to be both teacher and hall monitor.
Obviously, unchecked bad behavior continues and eventually reflects in the kid’s grades. So, soon I would be called into the principal’s office, where both the parent and the principal would berate me for my inability to teach the child properly since he was failing.
A great many kids I taught learned from their parents that, no matter what, they weren’t responsible for their own behavior. It was all the teacher’s fault.
Kids who are never wrong and can’t be responsible for their own actions will become that kid who wants to hold a sign and shriek that life isn’t fair and that he’s entitled to free health care, or reparations for Fill-In-The-Blank, or to tear down a statue of a mean person. Parents who don’t parent eventually hurt everyone else.
4. Parents Wait Until It’s Too Late Before Acting
I had to shake my head after reading an article about a Baltimore parent who discovered her 17-year-old son had passed only three classes in four years and had a 0.13 grade point average. Unfortunately, the young man was ranked near the top half of his class, indicating an enormous failure on the part of the school, but to whom is the school responsible? Parents and taxpayers.
Why in the world did this mother not have any idea of how badly her son was failing until he was a senior? That isn’t solely the fault of the school, that’s the fault of a parent who put her trust in a school and abdicated her right to direct the education of her child.
I simply cannot describe the number of parent-teacher conferences I hosted at which a single parent showed up. In my last year of public school teaching, I had more than 100 kids, and I knew five parents.
Sure, there are parents who have to choose between working and eating. These parents get a pass in the short term, but even parents who are economically disadvantaged can work with other parents to create a “learning pod” arrangement to help keep their kids on track when they can’t. Or they can tap into private charity to help their kids get into better private schools.
Two-parent working families who like having “extras” should re-evaluate their lives to put their children’s education before vacations or new cars. These and single-earner families can afford to dedicate their time and effort toward the education of their children and should do that at every opportunity.
Parents simply must make a 100 percent effort to know what their children are doing in school to the point of reviewing homework every night and making appointments with teachers to check up on progress continually. Anything else is a dereliction of duty.
5. Parents Have Allowed Administrators to Usurp Their Power
Parents have messaged me over the years asking about various school policies, such as vaccine and mask exemptions. They tend to start out their messages lamenting their school’s policies and wondering why their school doesn’t seem interested in educating their children. I have been known to say something to the effect of, “Why isn’t your school interested in educating your child? Don’t you pay for this service?”
Truly, you are the parent. You pay the taxes or tuition. If you exercise your voice and don’t feel as though you’re having an effect, or you feel intimidated to use your voice to help your child, find ways to connect with like-minded parents.
Join the parent-teacher association. Attend school functions and chat with other parents to see where they stand. Then create a group of like-minded parents within the school to attend school board meetings to address issues you agree upon.
Start attending a local political liberty group, or become involved with your state’s Republican Party and see if they’ll work with you to find, elect, and support school board candidates. See if there is a FreedomWorks or other non-profit conservative group interested in fighting for taxpayers and students in your community and join.
If you can’t seem to get any headway, take on the responsibility for educating your child yourself. National groups such as homeschoolamerica.com can help with locating and starting homeschooling programs.
Bottom line: the education of your child or children is your job. Even if you feel intimidated by the system, there are ways to make it work for you, or to solve your family’s needs when the system won’t. You have to take the time and effort to become the education activist your child needs you to be.