It shouldn’t be a controversial statement to say that a parent should be the most important person in their child’s life. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen over the past few years, liberal organizations across the country, especially those connected to public education, have sought to reduce the rights of parents and silence their voices.
We’ve seen concerned parents ignored or refused the opportunity to speak at school board meetings. We’ve had school administrators deny parents access to view the lesson plans and teaching materials that are being used in the public school classrooms. We watched as they’ve pushed controversial, offensive teachings like Critical Race Theory on our children and then called parents “domestic terrorists” when they questioned it.
A parents’ right to raise their child doesn’t end the moment that their child enters the classroom.
In New Hampshire, we’ve done much to give parents their voice back when it comes to their children. We were one of the first states in the nation to take Critical Race Theory head on by prohibiting the teaching that one race is inferior or superior to another in New Hampshire classrooms. We created Education Freedom Accounts so that low-income families have the same opportunities that higher income families have to send their children to schools that best fit their needs. We passed legislation that guarantees a public comment period at local school board meetings. And this spring, the Senate passed a Parents Bill of Rights, to make sure parents would always know what was going on in their children’s schools including what is being taught to their children in the classrooms.
Once again, the 603 way is succeeding, while the DC way is failing.
Opponents of these measures have argued that not all parents can be trusted to make to best decisions for their children. While it is true that a very small percentage of parents are unfit, we simply cannot make public policy under the assumption that all parents may be unfit. Safeguards exist to protect children who need it. The vast majority of parents do what they believe is best for their children, and we must demand that parents are treated as the primary caregiver in their children’s lives, not the government.
This is why I am proposing common sense reforms that must be made in Washington if we want to restore the rights of parents to raise their children:
Promote Transparency and Better Communication in Education
Prohibit CRT in Schools
Return Education to the States
Encourage More School Choice
Children spend 6 hours a day, 5 days a week at school. That is a significant portion of the time that they are awake each day. We put a lot of trust into our schools to sculpt our children’s futures without stomping on the values that we seek to teach them at home. Unfortunately, that trust is often misplaced.
Watching the classrooms online during the school shutdowns of the pandemic was an eye-opening experience for many parents. They finally saw what is being taught and said in the classrooms. Many were not pleased or felt misled. This led to the scenes we saw play out last fall of parents at school board meetings demanding change and being shut out of the decision-making process.
We need more transparency in our educational system and need to ensure federal protections of the rights of parents. Parents should have the right to view lessons and materials being taught in our schools, and discuss the objectionable materials with teachers and administrators.
Additionally, we need to ensure that parents are notified of any negative changes in a child’s behavior or school work that school officials may have noticed. Parents deserve to know about any potential issues and should not be kept in the dark.
Transparency and communication should not be a partisan issue, but Maggie Hassan and the Biden administration have done everything that they can to appease their liberal base by berating and criticizing parents that just want to fight for a better educational system. This is wrong and we need a fresh approach that encourages, not discourages, more participation from parents and promotes a two-way discussion about what is being taught in our schools.
A rising concern that many parents have voiced over the past year is the increased introduction of Critical Race Theory into our classrooms. This offensive ideology seeks to divide our society by race, and the indoctrination of it early on in our schools is dangerous.
In New Hampshire, we prohibited the teaching that one race is superior or inferior to another. To most, this legislation is a common-sense proclamation that our state does not discriminate based on race. However, opponents of the legislation actually fought tooth and nail to protect their right to discriminate. It’s time for common sense to return to our educational system. We need to return to teaching the A-B-Cs -- not the C-R-Ts.
At the federal level, we should follow New Hampshire’s lead. We should prohibit federal funding from being used in any schools K-12 or in colleges or universities to promote Critical Race Theory, hire individuals to promote Critical Race Theory in schools or otherwise force Critical Race Theory on students.
Additionally, we should codify President Trump’s Executive Order on Preventing Race and Sex Stereotyping. This order prohibited the federal government and federal contractors using trainings that advocate Critical Race Theory.
As is usually the case with government, when it comes to education, local is better.
We need to move funding away from the Federal Department of Education, and the entrenched bureaucrats that work there, and return it the classrooms where it belongs. The Federal Department of Education has become far too bloated and has taken far too much control away from the local governments that traditionally have run local public education.
It is especially important that we finally fully fund special education. Special education costs, especially in small towns, can be devasting for municipal budgets – and the local property tax payers that foot the bill. There has been an ongoing debate in Washington for years about funding, and unsurprisingly, the Washington politicians have failed to keep their promise to the states. Federal law says that we are required to fully fund special education, and until we do, we should stop funding of other special interest education projects.
The more local the control of our education, the stronger the voice of the parents. It is much easier to speak to your neighbor or local elected official than some nameless, faceless bureaucrat in Washington. We should return the focus away from Washington and back to our cities and towns, where it belongs.
The Federal Department of Education received $113.5 billion dollars in funding in FY2022. This included personnel salaries of $274.6 million dollars and personnel support costs of $159 million dollars. And what have we received for all of this funding? Low test scores and failed proficiency levels in everything from math to reading. We need to rethink how these funds are used.
New Hampshire’s successful Education Freedom Account program has shown that parents want more choice in their children’s education. Lower income families suddenly have new options that have been traditionally reserved for only those families with greater means. The EFA program should be viewed as a model for what can be done and how it can improve the education of students across the country. We should look at moving some of the excessive Department of Education funding into a new, choice-based model, such as increasing the yearly grant support for Charter Schools.