If you are the parent of a school aged child, I am sure you are overwhelmed right now by all this virtual, hybrid, and even in person schooling. Some of you are being asked to be your child’s teacher while others are being told to not watch Zoom classes your child is viewing. This is all very concerning and I think we know this is NOT good for kids.
Today, however, I want to focus on WHAT your child is being taught when they are in school. As a former teacher, I am shocked at the indoctrination, misinformation, and LACK of content kids are being exposed to.
I’m even more shocked that the public schools seem intent on hiding what they are teaching from parents.
Yesterday, I heard of a situation in my home county where someone has been asking for a copy of the Social Studies Curriculum and specifically how it incorporates the 1619 framework, since AUGUST. Here is a link to that framework so you can see it for yourself: https://pulitzercenter.org/lesson-plan-grouping/1619-project-curriculum.She has asked all the way to the Superintendent and nothing, nada. I was shocked. I worked in the system for over 30 years and was actually the Social Studies Specialist at one point. NEVER would I EVER have told a taxpayer they couldn’t see our curriculum. And if I had told them no, I would have been called on the carpet.
So, what are they hiding? Who knows. Trust me, there are many things schools systems don’t tell parents and the community. We think the School Boards are our advocates and will help us find the info, but many times their hands are tied by Board and System lawyers who will shut them down when they get too close to finding information.
So, how do parents find out what their children are being taught?
You have to be relentless. This is YOUR child. It is your child’s educaton and it is vitaly important to his/her success in life. You cannot be shy, you cannot be passive. Here are some things you can do.
- If school is in person, you need to volunteer when you can to help in the school. The PTA is a good way to start. Being in the school as a volunteer and talking to other parents and the teachers will not only allow you to get a sense of the personality of the school, but also to find out what goes on day to day.
- If you are stuck in virtual mode, you have to make a point of watching and listening to what is going on. You have to keep quiet during lessons, but keep your eyes and ears open. Take notes. If a school says you can’t do that, then there is a problem and you will need to address that at the school and district level. Older students might resist you “snooping” but like I used to tell my kids, “My House, my business.” If you hear something that you think is inappropriate, be prepared to follow the chain of command and ask about it with the teacher first, then the principal, then the Superintendent, and finally the school board. Don’t just let it slide.
- Know who is teaching your child. You have the right to know the professional resume of the teacher and their experience. Most teachers have a very limited social media presence because school districts have told them to be discreet, but you can still search the teacher’s social media accounts. It sounds creepy, but it is someone who is in an influential position with your child. You may not see much, but it doesn’t hurt to try. Remember, teachers are allowed to have a personal life! All teachers are required by law to have a background checks, but those don’t cover statements that disclose attitudes and values.
- Ask to see curriculum, yearly plans and frameworks and instructional materials that are used. All materials are supposedly reviewed by the school board before they are adopted, but sometimes problems do escape the notice of busy school board members. As a citizen, you have a right to view these.
- Attend school board meetings. Get to know school board members. WARNING: These meetings can be long and boring, but you can learn so much about what is going on in the system. And, if you have an issue you want addressed, you can get on the agenda and speak.
Your child depends on you to advocate for him/her. Put aside whatever awkwardness you may feel or the idea that you don’t know what to do or say, and get in there. If you don’t understand vocabulary or the acronyms they use, ask. Educators LOVE acronyms and will use them excessively, but don’t let that throw you. In fact, ask for explanations for anything you don’t understand.
Finally, remember that these people work for YOU, not the other way around. And, remember, this is YOUR child, not theirs.
- If your child comes home and says something about what he/she was taught that sounds strange or inappropriate, it is important that you listen and then follow up with the teacher. Sometimes kids misunderstand things. BUT, sometimes they are telling you what actually happened. If need be, meet with the teacher and the principal.
- If your child is doing virtual learning, I also think you need to know the parameters of how that will be done. Will you child be provided a laptop by the school? If your child is on camera, how will the school protect your child’s privacy as well as your own? One of the issues that has come up is what is seen by other students or teachers in the virtual class. Almost everyone knows the story about the parents who had the police show up at their home searching for guns. Why? Their child had BB guns in the background during a lesson and the teacher reported the family to the police. Also be careful about any agreement you need to sign previous to the virtual learning. Make sure you know what you are agreeing to.
- Ask about your parental rights and how they are protected by the school system, particularly as schools implement grants that provide mental health counseling for children. Sometimes as these programs are initiated children who have not expressed problems are interviewed in order to provide more subjects for the counseling. It’s almost as if they need to justify the program so they find kids. You need to know if you will be informed of what is happening with your child while in counseling. Again, your rights need to be protected.
The one thing you can do to make sure your children understand and have the values you want them to have is to get involved. Sometimes you may have to provide exposure to these values at home through books, movies, etc. And, the most important thing to do is to talk to your kids and help them learn how to think for themselves.