Raised during the 1960s era of systematic racism and consequential societal change, I have experienced the real-life impacts of our country’s world-changing mission statement: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” That is what makes recent attempts to institutionalize division and disincentivize parental involvement in the classroom all the more disturbing.
I grew up in a home of teachers. My dad was a college professor for more than 40 years, and my mom taught junior high. They were trusted to do what teachers throughout our history have always done: teach students to read, write, add, subtract, and think critically, nurturing the wellbeing of children at important stages of development along the way. To this day, I still remember the life lessons learned from both my parents and my teachers.
As a father of six and grandfather to 16, it has been my experience that success in the classroom and beyond is not just based on extraordinary teachers and a strong curriculum, but on robust parental involvement. Parents have and always will be invaluable advocates for their children, and we do not expect, nor will we tolerate, attacks to the contrary.
Parents’ passionate concerns and debate regarding the divisive practices of critical race theory, school safety and other education decisions that directly impact their children should be encouraged and supported, not attacked and disregarded. Recent actions by the federal Department of Education, Department of Justice, and activist teachers’ unions to intimidate and stifle the voices of concerned taxpaying Americans are shameful and harmful to students.
Instead of labeling involved parents as “domestic terrorists” and threatening legal action for exercising their parental rights, we should embrace their feedback as they work with teachers to achieve common goals. At the very least, we should respect parents’ First Amendment freedoms to speak up.
Over the past year and a half, we have seen the damaging consequences of keeping parents out of the classroom.
As the latest part of their radical agenda, the Biden Administration and the Department of Education have crafted proposals to fund education programs informed by critical race theory, the practice of teaching all of American history through the lens of race.
America’s 240-year progress in terms of race, creed, and color is evident for any truth-seeking eye. There has been no country in the history of mankind that can match each generation’s ability to view others from inside out, not outside in.
Critical race theory, however, is divisive, racist, destructive, and anti-American. It violates equal protection under the law, fundamentally diminishes the accomplishments of the Civil Rights movement, and perpetuates policies of discrimination based on race. It seeks to portray our country not as a beacon of freedom and opportunity but as a nation of victimized groups based on sex, race, ethnicity, and national origin. And in our classrooms, it teaches our youngest learners to view American history through a lens of hatred and oppression.
As Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”
Teaching children to be ashamed of the ideals of our country and that it is OK to judge one another based on race and ethnicity is wrong. This is the United States of America, and no one should ever be subjected to the discrimination that our laws so clearly prohibit.
Some may believe critical race theory in education is a non-issue. As someone who witnessed the ugly era of segregation, Jim Crow, and hate groups like the KKK, I can tell you that this ideology destroys decades of progress and federal policies that have corrected past injustices and moved our country forward and away from hostility. America is not an inherently racist country, but if we are not vigilant in the fight against institutional bigotry, we may find ourselves facing insurmountable division.
The Biden administration, the Department of Education, and local governments should denounce racism in all forms, ensure that students are taught a strong civics education, increase curriculum transparency, and uphold the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Each of us is created equal, and students should be learning that in the classroom.
Washington bureaucrats, politicians, and activist teachers’ unions who think they know better will never replace the involvement of parents, and we should be united in condemning efforts that stifle this First Amendment freedom and harm the lifelong development of America’s children.