As usual, Michelle Malkin has me thinking again this Sunday! A daily trip around the blogosphere can keep my wheels churning for hours. I REALLY had a strong reaction to this story because I seriously considered homeschooling my girls, but decided to trust parochial education instead. For those who choose or by no choice of their own end up placing their children in the care of the public, government-run schools, I would think vigilance and diligence are important traits to develop. That's why I find it so disgusting and disheartening to read about a set of parents who are dedicated and proactive being punished for their concern.
David and Tonia Parker's story is probably not all that unique. In fact, their request to the school system was more than likely prompted by stories they had read about parents being surprised by their children coming home to report they had learned how to put condoms on cucumbers, were tutored on proper masturbation techniques, had a story in circle time about "Heather's Two Mommies" or had to take any reference to God from the Christmas program agenda...oh, wait! That's their "Winter Celebration" agenda since if we call it Christmas we HAVE to talk about God and/or Jesus.
The nutshell of the Parker case is this: the Parkers asked the school to notify them prior to their son being present for discussion which might involve "adult" topics, including, but not limited to, homosexuality or same-sex parents and their families. They were VERY specific in their request and not the least bit disrespectful--stating that they would be teaching their son, then five, about those types of topics and noting that there is a difference between being a good person and compassionate toward all humans, regardless of their sexual orientation, and indoctrinating small children that same-sex households are the way to go. Unfortunately for the Parkers, the school system operated under the "We, the educated and enlightened, rule our domain and anyone within our territory." and sent the Parker's young son home with a bag of "diversity" education books including "What is a Family" which espouses philosophies in direct opposition to those the Parkers requested prior notification for--they simply wanted to the option of keeping their son from those discussions. That's an important detail to note: The Parkers had not made a stink about whether or not five-year-olds need instruction on diversity or whether or not the class should engage in discussion about homosexuality...they just wanted the option of not having their own son in the room.
At a meeting with principals and school administrators to discuss this breach of trust, David Parker was arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave the administrator's office unless the administration agreed to honor his request in the future.
I know issues like gay marriage and same-sex headed households are hot button. I'm not hung up on that as much as I am on the fact that a parent's simple request was NOT honored by the school district in which his taxes pay for the education of his sons. Regardless of my personal feelings on this topic, I wouldn't want my daughter exposed at 5 to that discussion either since, as an adult, I'm not even sure I understand all the complexities. When a child leaves home for kindergarten, pleasing the teacher becomes paramount and the information presented by the teacher is seen as law. I am not turning that power over to anyone I can't trust. If M1 had a friend in her kindergarten class whose parents were of the same sex, we would have to have this discussion prior to her attending the child's birthday party. But, if not, why saddle a 5-year-old with all kinds of unnecessary information. Shouldn't they be teaching them to read, write and wipe their own noses??
So, separate yourself from the issue that prompted this dispute between the Parkers and their school district. I challenge you to not make that issue the issue for the moment and rather focus on the audacity of this school district. They ignored a perfectly reasonable request from a parent and then, when called on it, had the parent arrested. I would venture a guess that many of us follow all kinds of rules in regard to our children's formal educational experiences. We may follow a dress code, turn in inordinate numbers of forms and fundraising dollars, and make sure we properly report our children absent when they are ill. In return, we trust they will honor our requests, "please don't allow M1 to go outside for recess today; she has a cold"; "please make sure the Johnny doesn't eat anything with peanuts in it...he's allergic and will die"; "Please don't discuss issues involving sexuality or homosexuality with our kindergartener...we'd like him to remain a child as long as possible."
Believe me, I'd be in the principal's office asking who was going to take off work to stay home when M1's cold turns in to bronchitis when I drive up & find her playing outside. Johnny's mom will be livid when the teacher gives him a Snickers for a perfect math quiz. And, the Parkers were justifiably angry when their directive was dismissed in regard to the material their son was exposed to in class.
My advice to the Parkers is this...investigate homeschooling or move. You live in one of the most liberal states in the union--look at the folks you send to Capitol Hill for unending terms (Chappaquiddick, anyone?) and it's time that parents start voting with their feet. Until school vouchers become a reality, parents stuck in morally bankrupt, failing school systems (whether this be financial, academic or ethical failure) will have to take matters in to their own hands. Homeschooling is not that difficult. We do a hybrid here--the girls attend school formally, but we have a curriculum at home as well--and if Catholics ever lose their minds and start pulling this kind of garbage (not listening to parents' requests) my girls will be homeschooled in a heartbeat.
Changing the system we have now may not be an option anymore. The all-powerful gluttons known as teachers' unions allied with whatever-gets-me-elected politicians have driven our school system in to the sewer. And, I venture a guess that someday in the near future, parochial schools and other private institutions with rules and ethics will be inundated with all kinds of kids from all kinds of families who will not want to play by the rules, but who will want out of the public school system. At that point, those of us partaking of private education will bring our children home.
Parents shouldn't be intimidated about educating their own children. By and large, those who major in education don't do so because they were torn between that and neurosurgery. Good hearts do not mean you wind up with exceptionally outrageous brains. I'm not saying teachers, as a whole, aren't smart. What I'm saying is that with the large number of educators, as in any profession, it's easier to find a disappointing experience than it is to find a satisfying one and parents need to be attentive to that.
Parents should also recognize that creating a curriculum for their own kids and moving at the child's pace doesn't even require a parent be a stay-at-home parent. It can be done and I venture a guess that it will be happening more and more as the Parker's experience is far from isolated.
We have to really think about this. We have to hold those who deal with our children accountable for many things. Parents' wishes must be heeded. And, when they are not and parents wind up going to jail, the rest of us in the parenting pool need to be on our toes and come to their defense...off to send an e-mail or two to those who need to be reminded of that.