by Diane Rufino (with content provided by Kelly Mann of the John Locke Foundation), February 14, 2022
I have recently become active in my community and most particularly, I’ve gotten involved in keeping on eye on the administration of the public education system in my county. I’ve not only attended the monthly public meetings of the Pitt County Board of Education, but I’ve helped organize like-minded parents and concerned citizens into a group that I’ve named the Coalition for Public Education (C.O.P.E.). Our members have been very active in attending these meetings and also, in offering statements, opinions, and frustrations to the board members – only two of which are conservative.
We have been successful in addressing Critical Race Theory and having the board pass a policy on “Teacher Guidance” that prohibits teachers and administrators from addressing CRT in the classrooms, UNLESS the opposite teachings are equally taught. We currently have a serious problem with books that include dark and offensive themes, such as pornography and other sexually-inappropriate material, pedophilia, child rape, incest (father molesting a daughter), gang violence, foul language, transgenderism, Black Lives Matter themes, and more. Books that contain over 300 “F*** bombs (and police brutality), as well as books that address pedophilia, child rape, and family violence, are included in middle school required classroom reading material. They are also in middle school libraries. Sadly, our Board of Education sees no problem with such books. In fact, members have explained that those offensive books “meet our criteria.” (The real fact is that none of the members, including the School Superintendent or school principals, have taken the time to read them before exposing the students to them).
We cannot and must not forget that the brains of school-age children have not finished developing. They can’t process, analyze, appreciate, or comprehend the consequences of the adult topics that are being forced on them through progressive policies, doctrines, and teachings. The mere suggestion of socially progressive issues, especially regarding racism and transgenderism, to a child or teen can cause them confusion and send them questioning their biological identity and their role in society. Not only does such material cause confusion, but it certainly serves to stereotype individuals by their skin color and associated character traits, as well as to make certain children feel they are perpetual victims of society and others feel that their race has been and continues to be the cause of their oppression. Why do we need to cause a young child to question his or her gender or sexuality? Why even talk about sexuality in the classroom at all? In education, we hear about education standards and how they must align with a child’s brain development. That’s because we want our children to be able to absorb the particular lesson, process it, and learn it. Lessons must make sense to them when they are taught so that the learning process is effective. How does the teaching of racism, transgenderism, gender fluidity, alternative sex education, panoramic surveys, social emotional learning align with a young child’s brain development and ability to process?
Children are supposed to receive their grounding, their foundation, during their formative, school-age years, from their parents, their families, their church, and yes, from the permanent and unchanging laws of science, in particular Biology.
It’s not enough to think of liberal/progressive indoctrination in our public school systems as only Critical Race Theory. Yet that is what most parents are concerned with. In fact, there are so many different forms, so many distinct ways to get the same progressive teaching to our children. For example, there are inappropriate panoramic surveys, identity surveys, data-mining surveys, equity indoctrination, social emotional learning lessons (SEL), health classes on alternative life styles and alternative sex education, diversity education (diversity lessons), lessons on such progressive social issues as transgenderism, gender fluidity, pronoun choice, and the list goes on. In many ways, all of these progressive doctrines and policies are interconnected. They serve one ultimate goal: to further a progressive and liberal social agenda. To learn more about these progressive doctrines and polices, I recommend going to the Education First Alliance website – https://www.edfirstnc.org/.
“Whoever controls the education of our children controls the future.” Nazi Germany understood this; Communist China understands this. And the progressive element in the United States most clearly understands this. These elements are in political strongholds all over the country – in the state boards of election and in local governments, including the local school boards.
A gross over-reach by education bureaucrats has teachers and school systems focused on social engineering and counseling rather than providing a sound, basic education. They want to steer our future in a progressive direction. Teachers debate “preferred pronouns” in discussing gender identity while our children don’t even know how to construct a proper sentence. Education has suffered greatly. Students aren’t even situated with the proper skills to enter college. North Carolina has an abysmal record on public education
It is unconscionable that our young children are being exposed to such vile and disgusting, inappropriate, potentially harmful (emotionally and psychologically), uber-liberal, and non-value-added material. It is bad enough that they are exposed to it on the internet, on TV, in almost every movie, in the news, in music videos and song lyrics, but to normalize such views and such conduct in the public school system, a place where our youth is supposed to be EDUCATED and not indoctrinated. They are supposed to be EDUCATED and not counseled.
In North Carolina, its Constitution, in Section IX (“Education”), reads: “Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, libraries, and the means of education, SHALL FOREVER BE ENCOURAGED.” (emphasis added)
Again, the foundations for religion and morality (ie, virtue) must come from the family and the church and NOT from the public school system and the rabid liberals that teach our children. (I acknowledge that not all teachers are liberal, but the conservative ones feel helpless). A solid foundation in science is also necessary, I believe, for a child to be able to properly and honestly address the issues of our decaying society. The laws of science are immutable and permanent.
And so, as I began to delve into the mess that has become our public education system, I became fixated on that provision in Section IX. Back in the day (and I’m not that old), it was always assumed that religion, morality, and knowledge were the legs to a solid public school education. It was always assumed that those in charge of the education of our children were in line with the rightful expectations of parents. And we, as parents, used to believe that we could go into the schools, into our child’s classroom, and see what they are learning and how they are being taught. This was so back in the 70’s when I was a child in the public school system in New Jersey and up until several years ago in North Carolina. What changed? When did we lose the time-honored notion of a “sound, basic education?” When did we as parents lose our rights to know how our children are being educated? When did we lose control over our children? When did the school system take control of them and disrupt the parent-child relationship? When did the school system usurp our parental rights?
And so, I’d like to address a different topic with regard with the education of our children in this article – a PARENT’S BILL OF RIGHTS.
As I mentioned to the Pitt County Board of Education in my remarks to them this month: “Parents are responsible for every detail of their young children’s lives, from potty training to eating healthy, to keeping them healthy and happy, to helping them to socialize well. We used to think that that our responsibilities were lightened when our kids got on the school bus and went off to school. We trusted that they were in good and responsible hands and getting the best education the district could provide. But that’s no longer true. As we’ve learned over the past years, that responsibility continues, perhaps even moreseo, WHEN THEY GO OFF to SCHOOL.”
As displayed and reported all across the country, parents are frustrated, they feel they are being ignored and unheard, and most importantly, they honestly believe that their child’s basic educational needs are not met.
The fact that education bureaucrats have chosen to focus on divisive issues while an entire generation of students aren’t reaching proficiency in the essential areas of math and reading is abhorrent. It shows an indifference toward our children’s futures. They debate preferred pronouns, while our children don’t even know how to construct a proper sentence. North Carolina students are in a crisis, and parents are labeled domestic terrorists for simply expressing their outrage at school board meetings.
Parents have a voice and that voice needs to be heard. They have rights and they need to be respected and not ignored. Parents have every right to be involved in the classroom. After I heard Ms. Kelly Mann, the Outreach Director for the John Locke Foundation (Raleigh, NC) mention an article she had written on A Parent’s Bill of Rights for its website, I became energized to help promote it. I wrote to every single North Carolina house member and every single state senator asking them to consider a bill officially recognizing parents’ rights in the education of their children.
A Parent’s Bill of Rights should, at least, include all of the following. I’m sure parents can come up with additional “rights” and I hope they do. The first 10 rights come from Ms. Mann (I want to make sure she gets the credit, which she absolutely deserves) and the rest are ones that I’ve come up with:
- Education funds must follow students, not systems.
- Parents have the right to engage in the selection and approval of academic standards.
- Parents have the right to access educational materials, resources, and syllabi taught to their children in the classroom.
- Parents have the right to make medical care decisions on behalf of their children.
- Parents will receive timely notification of information related to the health, well-being, and education of their children.
- In-person education is a right that should always be available as a choice.
- Parents have the right to transparent access to school and school district academic performance.
- Parents have the right to access detailed and up-to-date district financial records.
- Parents have the right to opt their children out of the classroom for delivery of content listed in the syllabus with which they disagree.
- Parents have the right to know of threats to their child’s safety (individually or school-wide).
- Parents have the right to determine and choose which education environment will best serve their child’s education needs, without judgement from others or resistance by the school system, even if that environment is at home (home-schooling).
- Parents have the fundamental right to make decisions regarding their child’s education, well-being, and access to public school progressive indoctrination. Religion, morality, family and social values are matters to be directed and respected as belonging to parents.
- Parents have the right to be able to sit-in on their child’s class, upon making a request to do so.
- Parents have the right to be provided with information, data, and statistics as to the shortcomings or failures (as well as successes) of each school system their child can potentially attend.
- Parents have the right to be notified should the school feel the need to have a counselor speak to their child, and to have the right to refuse to have their child “counseled” by the school.
- Parents have the absolute right to be notified of and to be involved in the filling out of ANY questionnaire or survey that the school assigns to their child. Likewise, parents have the absolute right to refuse to have their child answer such questionnaires or surveys. Parents have the right to control what information is shared with the school system (ie, government).
- For parents of exceptional children: Parents have the right to have their child’s exceptionalism diagnosed and served by the education system.
The proposed Parent’s Bill of Rights for North Carolina by Ms. Mann is actually nothing new. Several states already have such a Bill of Rights in place. Florida, Missouri, and Indiana are just three such states. Governor Greg Abbott of Texas just recently proposed a Parent’s Bill of Rights for his state (January 25). And Senator Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) recently introduced one in the US Senate on November 16, 2021.
Will Estrada, president of the Parental Rights Foundation has been working for years to pass a parental rights amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps its day will come. In the meantime, the Parental Rights Foundation has managed to pass such an amendment in twelve states. These amendments affirm that “the liberty interest of the parent, and the nurture, education, care, custody, and control of the parent’s child is a fundamental right.”
Parents are stepping up and exerting their parental rights and I, for one, am so happy to see this. They are attempting to bring common sense and the inalienable rights of parents back to education. As Estada says: “Parents know they have the right to be in charge of their child’s education, upbringing, and care. This is not just a Republican issue or even a Christian issue. This is something parents all across the board want. They may have different views on how to raise their children, but we respect that and we advance it and we protect it legally here in our country.”
I strongly support a Parent’s Bill of Rights. The Coalition for Public Education group (C.O.P.E.) strongly supports a Parent’s Bill of Rights. The fact that parents are getting out of the kitchen, out of the house, and out to local school boards meetings all across the country because of their outrage and frustration over what is happening in the public school system, to the detriment of students, to the dismantling of the child-parent relationship, and to the integrity of education in general should impress upon boards of education the seriousness of the matter. Parents matter. Their rights matter. Children matter. The education of our next generation matters. Boards of Education, state legislators, and even our legislators in DC need to recognize and support a Parent’s Bill of Rights.
A Parent’s Bill of Rights is not only a good-faith gesture that signals and promises to parents that the system is on their side and that it will value their input and their views on how their children should be educated, but it is the RIGHT thing to do.