By David Hegg
It seems I’ve been collecting bits and pieces of concern over the past year and now is as good a time as any to share them. This column will address only one, but I’ve got a few more for future columns.
I’ve never before seen entities known as “school boards” achieve such a high level of notoriety. Back in the 1980s when I was involved with PTAs and school board members as a parent and vendor, these groups were made up of other parents whose values and presuppositions were held in common simply because they were the products of common sense.
Back in those days, school boards weren’t political outposts. The moms and dads who came together to think through the issues, plan the plans, and decide the decisions were agreed that the main thing was to keep the main things the main things.
And, by the way, the main things back then are still the main things today. First, school board members must take seriously their responsibility as those entrusted with the education of the children. As trustees they must realize they are accountable to those they represent for the education the students receive. Given that the largest percentage of parents use the public school system to educate their children, parents are those to whom board members will give an account.
Parents have every right to hold the board members accountable. They expect that those they’ve entrusted their children to will provide the basic, traditional subjects that have always provided the foundation for becoming a good citizen and a useful contributor to the common good.
But sadly, some school boards are deciding to overhaul what we all once considered the building blocks of education by inserting their own progressive values and opinions.
This is where we’ve run into trouble today. I recently read where one school district is introducing elements of racial equity into its mathematics curriculum. Really? Given that students in our country rank in the bottom third in mathematics among students in developed countries, maybe we should just teach math. And I would submit that simply teaching math well so that the next generation can think critically serves the children and their parents in the best way.
This kind of educational deconstruction is what happens when school boards forget their fiduciary responsibility to those who have entrusted their children to them and decide to insert their own political and social values into the school system.
And that’s where the second main thing comes in to play. Given that school boards are trustees, it is essential to remember whose trust they are to safeguard. Simply put, parents delegate some of the operational responsibility for their children’s education to the school board, which puts a fiduciary responsibility on every school board member to both respect and represent the voice of the parents. This is precisely where the guy who lost the governorship of Virginia demonstrated his ignorance. To insist that parents are unqualified to address the education of their children is politically foolish simply because it is fundamentally wrong.
A basic tenet of natural law is that parents are primarily responsible for the education of their children. That’s how God planned it, and even those who don’t view life through a religious lens must admit that the family is the basic building block of an ordered, civilized society. That’s where it all starts.
Today, parents can make use of several educational options. But when they do choose to use public education, they do so without abdicating either their authority over their children or their responsibility for their education.
Sadly, some school boards both far and near have acted as though our children belong to them. They’ve decided they don’t represent we the parents and are going to educate and indoctrinate our kids with things both scandalous and harmful. But this is fundamentally wrong and it is up to parents to oppose this kind of thinking before it becomes a reality.
My advice to you parents who are using public school systems to educate your children is this: Recognize your responsibility as your child’s parent. He or she belong to you, and not to the school or school board. Then, find out what is happening at your child’s school. Go there. Ask to see the curriculum, especially in the areas where progressive values may be encroaching on your own personal beliefs and values. And by all means, speak up. Know who sits on your school board and find out what they think, and what they are proposing. Make your voice known, and do so intelligently, civilly, and with the respect and honor you yourself deserve from those who are, in a very real sense, your employees.
After all, if they work for you they have a great need to know what you want them to do.
Local resident David Hegg is senior pastor of Grace Baptist Church. “Ethically Speaking” appears Sundays.