Your Parenting Info Sign Up

Parental Rights and Responsibilities

by Ronald A. Rowe | April 16th, 2014 | Elementary, School

school-73497_640Our world increasingly embraces the role of government in the duties of raising our children. Examples abound of parents abdicating their responsibilities one inch at a time and institutions usurping them as quickly as possible. There’s the school in Chicago that’s banning home packed lunches, instead forcing children to purchase and eat only the food approved and supplied by the school district. The theory being that parents may pack unhealthy lunches but the all-knowing school district is better suited to identify the nutritional needs of each student and provide for them. This is, of course, nonsense.

Then there’s the teacher at a school in Florida who last week told a 5-year-old girl who was caught saying grace before lunch that it is “not good to pray”. Who better than a stranger without enough seniority to get out of lunch duty to decide what level of spiritual activity is appropriate for your child?

Each infringement on our parental rights that goes unchallenged emboldens the authorities and chips away at our resolve to hold onto those rights and responsibilities. You’ve no doubt heard the “slippery slope” argument used dozens of times with varying degrees of legitimacy. Here it’s very true and very applicable. Looking the other way or hiding our heads in the sand does no one any good. We must engage in the battle for our control over our children’s formative years.

Some parents choose homeschooling as an alternative. The argument here is that the education system is irreparably broken and that the only hope dutiful parents have is to withdraw from it completely. I agree on one point. If all dutiful parents withdraw their children from public schools then the system will be broken beyond all repair. There are cases in which homeschooling is the right choice for individual children, situations, and families. But each concerned parent that pulls their child from school wins an individual battle, but at a cost to the collective war. Segregation is often posited as a solution to many of life’s ills but it is rarely a viable solution.

The best way for us to keep our elementary children safe from the hazards of public schools (for the sake of this article we’ll assume that private school is not an option as is the case for millions of Americans) is to fully engage in the organization. That means PTA. It means chaperoning trips. Sometimes it requires ruffling of feathers. Teachers and administrators may not appreciate having someone looking over their shoulder — though the good ones will be quite pleased to find an ally willing to pitch in and participate fully in the parent-teacher collective necessary to make education work.

I know that I will get some flack for this from those who feel I am denigrating teachers. There most certainly are some great teachers out there. But as recent news has made abundantly clear, there are also some really bad ones out there as well. We can’t just sit back and trust that the school system will take responsibility for raising our children. Rights and responsibilities go hand in hand. You can’t give away one without giving up the other.

Comments on Parental Rights and Responsibilities