The state and your children

I sometimes wonder if parents realize how much control they are handing to the government when they enroll their children in government schools. I’m guessing that many parents do not realize that not only are they not choosing what specifically their children are taught, but they do not have the legal right to have their children exempted from lessons which they may find objectionable or immoral. This came to light again last week in Lexington Massachusetts after a 2nd grade teacher used a book called “King & King” to teach children about different types of marriage. (Story here.) The teacher did not inform parents ahead of time that a book depicting marriage between two men would be used (and he is under no legal obligation to do so). When parents objected, the school’s response was predictable:
“Lexington Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash said Estabrook has no legal obligation to notify parents about the book. ”We couldn’t run a public school system if every parent who feels some topic is objectionable to them for moral or religious reasons decides their child should be removed . . .’ “
Last year a father at the same school who refused to leave school grounds until he was allowed to have his son opt-out of lessons which included teaching about same sex marriage was arrested for trespassing. We saw a similar demonstration of state power over our children in a case decided in California last fall where parents were found not to have the right to prevent a school from requiring their children to participate in Islamic practice’s including prayers to Allah. (Story here.) This is the power of the state when it comes to educating children – they can choose what to teach them AND the parent has NO right to have their child exempted from lessons and activities which they find objectionable (exceptions for sex ed are allowed in most places).
Right now this is primarily a problem for those with traditional values, but it could just as easily turn against those whose values are in the minority. It’s not hard at all to imagine a situation in a part of the country which is less amiable to the idea of same sex marriage where a lesson may include a statement such as “No society in history has ever recognized marriage other than between a man and woman (or women) because it has long been believed that homosexuality is unnatural and children entrusted to such couples would grow up twisted and unable to participate in the functioning of the society.” Obviously, such a statement (while perhaps factually true) would be offensive to a same sex couple and might even cause real harm to the psyche of a child being raised by a same sex couple. However, parents simply do not have any right to insist that their children not be exposed to something which the state or its officials want them to be exposed to. When a child is enrolled in a government school, it is the state and the state alone which decides what that child is to be taught. What is so crazy about this situation is that we often hear from pro-government school apologists that the public school system is the foundation of a functioning democracy. In fact, a mandatory state run school system which claims sole responsibility for the ideas a child is exposed to while in its care in order to maintain a society which functions according to that state’s vision of proper is a defining characteristic of dictatorial, fascist and other non-representative freedom killing regimes. How is it that so many people have accepted the idea that in a democracy the government should take on such a role? Call me cranky, but it really is the idea that it’s perfectly reasonable that parents hand over their right to educate their own children to the government which bothers me much more than any particular thing which is or isn’t taught in schools. To me giving the state the right to indoctrinate my kids as they see fit, without my input or control, runs contrary to the sort of radical freedoms our nation was founded on.

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2 thoughts on “The state and your children

  1. Not to mention what happens if the kid needs any form of special education: the I.E.P comes into play. The I.E.P., or Individual Education Plan, in many cases is essentially a legal document letting them do anything they want. You have to sign I.E.P. forms for things even as simple as speech therapy. If your kids are in school, and you’re presented with one of these documents, read it thoroughly before signing.

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  2. Wow it’s so refreshing to read thoughts that are so close to mine about the way public schools are run. It’s crazy that people can send there kids to public schools and think they are gonna learn something.

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