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Erica Galindo
Celebrating Food, Faith and Family
Last edited on: December 19, 2011.

When I was in elementary school, mom was there on a regular basis helping out in the classroom or the library, chaperoning field trips, or leading an advanced reading program for gifted students. And she wasn’t the only mom doing her part to improve our education.

The Department of Education in 1986 released “What Works: Research About Teaching and Learning.” The report was divided up by setting – Home, Classroom, and School. The first principle listed under the Classroom section was, “Parental involvement helps children learn more effectively.” Again, this was in the classroom.

So “What’s wrong with parents visiting a school” in 2011? That’s the question columnist Jay Matthews of the Washington Post asked in his article of December 4.

According to Matthews, two sets of parents – one in Fairfax, the other in Arlington County, VA – had similar experiences: When they asked the local school if they could sit in to observe a class with their child, they each received a quick and certain “No” in response. In each case the child was a prospective student, and the parents wanted to see if the school would be a good fit. They wanted to be informed as they made decisions “to direct the education of their child.” Instead, the schools walled them out.

Parents’ presence was encouraged in 1986: “This first-hand observation shows parents how the teacher teaches and gives parents ideas on what they can do at home.” Today, a wall has been built and parents are simply not allowed inside.

Why? Teachers and administrators gave Matthews several reasons, including teacher privacy issues, vaccination issues, and the fear that visits could be “too disruptive to the educational process.” But none could cite any examples of such a disruptive visit.

On the extreme end of the spectrum, we heard separately from a parent whose child’s teacher recently informed her that what goes on in that teacher’s classroom is none of the mother’s business.

And sadly, court precedent agrees with that teacher. According to the Ninth Circuit’s decision in Fields v. Palmdale (2005), the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing of their children “does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.”

In the 1986 report President Reagan asserted that “education begins in the home and flourishes when we draw upon the combined efforts of children, parents, teachers, and administrators.” But today’s education bureaucrats are squeezing parents out of the equation.

We believe “the liberty of parents to direct the education and upbringing of their children is a fundamental right,” even in public schools. It is for this reason that we promote the Parental Rights Amendment to codify that fact in the text of the U.S. Constitution. We must all stand together, however your child is educated, to defend the right of fit parents to make decisions for their children in all educational settings.

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