Sneering at parents isn't a great political strategy
"Seething contempt for the idea that parents should get a say in their children's education is really not a great political strategy," writes Andrew Rotherham on Eduwonk. Parents vote.
In response to Republican Sen. Tim Scott calling for "putting parents back in charge of their kid's education," Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell tweeted: "What are we doing next? Putting patients in charge of their own surgeries? Clients in charge of their own trials? When did we stop trusting experts? This is so stupid."
The GOP's Parents' Bill of Rights would require schools to publicly post curriculum and district budgets and give parents a list of books and reading materials available in the school library. It also would mandate parental consent before medical exams, including those for mental health or substance use disorder, take place at school.
The Democrats are working on a bill that calls for "'authentic' collaboration between parents and educators, protecting students' civil rights and providing children with 'historically accurate' instruction to prepare them to participate in representative democracy," reports ABC News.
That's "an exercise in activist pleasing," writes Rotherham. It will not satisfy parents' desire for change.
Democratic politicians are caught between Black, Hispanic and other voters who want school choice, "the ultimate parent right," and "white progressives and powerful Democratic special interest groups that don’t," writes Rotherham.
He envisions an education agenda Democrats could champion:
. . . It could include "a right to equitable school finance and access to high quality curriculum and advanced classes. It could include some sort of right to know whether the material your children are learning is grade-level aligned and research-based. Tutoring and other post-pandemic recovery supports would be a good right to champion, especially coupled with some requirement around an actual evidence base. Transparency about school performance and student learning. Universal screening for gifted and other enrichment programs. Sensible and fair school discipline policies that both ensure orderly safe schools and create positive alternatives to just tossing kids out of school or criminalizing them. And yes, it’s not unreasonable for parents to have a right to see surveys their kids are going to take and to be confident schools are not actively concealing things from them or offering counseling or other services without parental consent.
There "is more common ground than the professional culture warriors on right and left want to acknowledge," Rotherham concludes.
I agree. But the people on the fringes yell the loudest.