The Consequences For Your Child and What You Can Do
As part of my thirty year career in education, I bounced around from one position to another, from classroom to administration to back to the classroom. I like to think that it is because I was such a talented educator. It’s more likely that they just couldn’t find a job where I would keep my mouth shut and toe the party line. Or maybe I just sucked at different jobs! Who knows?
But, what being in many different positions taught me is what the educational establishment is all about. It’s not pretty.
So, when I read post from a parent who attended a school board meeting in a Maryland county and saw the way they were lying and trying to placate him, I knew I had to write this post. I hope it will help you navigate the mess that public education is becoming.
The parent was asking about critical race theory being taught in the classrooms of their school system. If you don’t know what it is, here is the “official” definition of CRT:
“Critical race theory (CRT) is an analytical framework that stems from the field of critical legal studies that addresses the racial inequities in society. This article provides an analysis of CRT in the context of diversity and inclusivity in education.”
Nice word salad, huh? Here’s what the reality is.
- CRT assigns moral value to the lives of people based on skin color. It basically teaches children that all problems in society are because of white people.
- CRT teaches white children that their family members are racists, merely because they are white.
- CRT is not presented as an opinion but as FACT and the TRUTH.
- CRT has offshoot programs, critical feminist theory, post colonial theory among others.
The bottom line is that it is a program promoting racial, social, and gender division and the scapegoating of one race as the cause of all the ills of the world. Hitler would be proud.
The parent asked if CRT was being taught as part of the system’s curriculum, the “educators” told him that it was not specifically being taught but that the precepts were being addressed. In other words, “We don’t want to call it that because people will get upset so we will give it another name.” Typical. When asked for a copy of what was being taught, they tap danced around that as well.
Thing is, as a taxpayer, you have a right to see those materials. Here is how the State of Maryland defines your rights to information:
“Maryland’s Public Information Act (“PIA”) gives the public the right to access government records without unnecessary cost and delay.”
This is a broad statement and it appears they do give themselves ability to deny certain records. However, the curriculum of a school system doesn’t fall in that category.
But, don’t be fooled, they will stonewall you. I know a woman in our county who has waited for over a YEAR for a copy of the Social Studies Curriculum for the system. She has gone up the ladder from the Social Studies Specialist to the Superintendent to the School Board. No luck so she will now go to the local press. For some reason, they don’t want her or anyone to see it.
The system may try to tell you that they give teachers objectives and then leave it up to them to decide how to prepare and deliver lessons. That is bullshit, for lack of a better word. No modern school system allows teachers to “do their own thing” when teaching. The advent of testing, accountability, and social media have put an end to that. No Superintendent wants to see a Facebook or Twitter post of an offensive or controversial lesson taught by a teacher in their system. Control is the theme of the day. Teachers are directed to follow county curriculum. Period.
So, if they tell you that, let them know that is not true. Remind them of the PIA and that these materials fall under that law. If they keep denying you these materials, let them know that you will be filing a complaint with the Maryland Public Information Compliance Board.
You can also use your local press and/or other concerned parents to help you make your case! School systems hate negative publicity.
A simple way to see what is being taught is to look at the materials your child is bringing home or ask your child what they learned that day. Most kids will tell you honestly. Once you have that information, a post on social media in a education group can get things moving. Follow the post up with a phone call and you may actually get answers.
One of the ways that systems will placate parents is to tell them that if they don’t want their child to participate in a “controversial” program or lesson, they can “opt out.” Sounds okay, right? Not so fast.
You have to understand that whenever a child “opts out” of a class activity or lesson, this is extra work for the teacher since he/she now has to prepare an alternative lesson that the child can complete on his/her own. Many teachers will be resentful about this because it adds to their work load.( As a former teacher, I am not saying this as a condemnation of teachers but just a statement of fact.)
Several things could happen. Your child could end up doing assignments that are either time killers or somewhat punitive. I’ve seen teachers assign students a stack of boring worksheets. I’ve seen others sit them in a room with little to nothing to do. It is vital that you stress that neither of these are acceptable.
Your child might be publically shamed or belittled for opting out. A statement might be made in front of the class such as, ” Well, class, since Mary’s parents don’t want her learning about racial equality, she has to leave the classroom.” If you think an educator should be better than this, look up what teachers in a Virginia school district are doing to parents who are protesting the teaching of CRT. Some teachers are more activist than educator and will have no problem making your child an outcast.
It’s important that you know your child’s teacher(s) and school administrators. The better your relationship is with them, the less likely these problems will occur. Just be ready in case they do. You may have to go into the school or go up the chain of command to complain if they do. Do NOT let your child be hassled.
Another problem is that schools don’t always let you know when these programs are going on. This is on purpose to save them the headaches of parental complaints. So, you may never get a letter giving you the opt out option. You CAN do your own letter to the school putting them on notice that your child will not participate in certain activities. You have this right as a parent under the 14th Amendment of the Constitution. Here is a summary of that right and two court case examples:
According to the U.S Constitution, specifically the 14th Amendment, parental rights are broadly protected by Supreme Court decisions (Meyer and Pierce), especially in the area of education. The Supreme Court has repeatedly held that parents possess the “fundamental right” to “direct the upbringing and education of their children.” Furthermore, the Court declared that “the child is not the mere creature of the State: those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right coupled with the high duty to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations.”
(Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510, 534-35)
The Supreme Court criticized a state legislature for trying to interfere “with the power of parents to control the education of their
own.” (Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 402.) In Meyer, the Supreme Court held that the right of parents to raise their children free from unreasonable state interferences is one of the unwritten “liberties” protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (262 U.S. 399).
In this letter, you can say:
“Please accept this letter as record of my decision to refuse for my child (name) to participate in any curriculum, lessons, or activities that involve ( subject matter) at (school) during the (year) school year. My refusal to participate in (subject matter)is because I believe this is detrimental to the social, mental, and academic growth and well being of my child as well as taking away time from the academic instructional experiences my child might otherwise receive.
This is a right guaranteed to me as a parent under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
My child is prepared to come to school during such unit(s) and participate in alternative, meaningful, self-directed lessons that support the essential curriculum or other meaningful academic activities that the teacher or school determines. “
Make sure this letter is sent to the teacher, the school, area supervisors and the Superintendent. Keep a copy on file.
If you feel you need to, you can also add a section that says:
” I also expect that my child will not be intimidated into participating in these activities or shamed, embarrassed or singled out because he/she isn’t.”
That last section should be included at your discretion. As always, if things are to a point where you feel legal action needs to be taken, find a lawyer that handles these issues. Here is a web page that can help you find one:
Parents can no longer trust that the schools will respect parental rights and beliefs. You will have to be vigilent about what your child is being taught. As Reagan said, “Trust but verify.”
It’s unfortunate that we have come to a point in our country where parents need to be concerned about their child being indoctrinated into beliefs that are divisive and harmful to the child. To be fair, most schools and teachers want nothing to do with these discriminatory practices. They keep their politics and biases out of the classroom. But, you have to be prepared for the others. And, sometimes teachers have no choice.
Make sure you do have a choice about what your child is taught!
*Nothing included in this blog post should be interpreted as legal information or advice. If you have an issue you can’t handle, please consult a lawyer.
For the sake of length, I couldn’t cover everything about CRT. This link is a good article with other links listed:
Here is a link to help you with Maryland’s PIA as well as forms, definitions, etc.