Ron Isaac’s Commentary: School Boards vs. Parents?

Dec 2, 2021 by

It falls short of being a movement, but certainly qualifies as a trend. Parents nationwide are increasingly demanding that teachers’ lesson plans be posted online. 

The stated reason, as is often the case, may differ from the actual one.

These parents, often organized and controlled from behind the scenes, claim they want to monitor their children’s progress and be apprised of the curriculum so as to be in a better position to be engaged as partners with the school. 

That is no doubt the truth but probably not the whole truth and therein lies the kicker.

Cries for instantaneous access to teachers” materials, sources and syllabus coincide with the recent much-publicized clashes between some parents and school boards.  Some of these have been verbally violent to the point of being construed as physically threatening.

It can be argued that some of these parents are being exploited by outside political and ideological interests. Other clashes were sparked by the urgent and good-faith pleas of parents, genuinely believing that their children have been hurt by indifference or inaction of school officials, lashing out in exasperation.

Some of the targets of indignation believe that these confrontations are akin to threats of terrorism and have sought federal intervention on the highest level.  Other targets may think that by creating such a diversionary secondary issue they can dodge a bullet of a different kind.

The waters of debate are filled with red herrings.

No doubt there are parents who are striking out recklessly, using school board meetings as an excuse to vent their ungoverned minds.  But whether or not the specific issues they raise are well-founded and authentic, they have a legitimate right to articulate them

Dismissing them is callous and not an option, especially when they it is a matter of their children’s safety.
Still, when parents, all of a sudden, insist on screening the curriculum and vetting it for cultural purity, and demand veto power over its implementation, it strongly smells of a motive other than a professed commitment to transparency and accountability.

Neither side is always forthright. School boards are not tyrants and non-compliant parents, regardless of the decibel level of their shouting, are not insurrectionists.

Parents should know what is being taught their children.  But that does not require that lesson plans be posted in advance of their presentation.  For generations, teachers have practically begged their students’ parents to review homework and texts and to attend conferences. No curriculum is kept a secret in our public schools. 

Gone are the days when their role of parents in schools is restricted to  holding bake-sale fundraisers.
But parents must never be allowed to edit, censor or otherwise control curriculum just because awkward themes or provocative language does not sit well with them.
Ron Isaac

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