I am in favor of Virginia’s Model Policies Concerning instructional Materials with Sexually Explicit Content! I have been an educator for 40 years, a Virginia voter and taxpayer for 33 years, and am now a grandparent. Here’s why I like the policies.
Parents, not activists or activist-influenced school boards, are the primary, rightful, and concerned guardians of their children’s welfare. Dismissing parental objections is backfiring for the school boards and the schools they are meant to lead. Rightfully so. As of late, there are new, rampant distractions in the classroom, there are teachers and families leaving public schools for the private sector, and there are growing rumbles to provide school choice so that a families of modest means could use their tax dollars, an average of $15,000 per student per year, to get a private school education that suits them and that will educate more than it indoctrinates. Moreover, FERPA rights guaranteed to parents under federal law are being trampled on, and that is something school boards should worry about. The model policies would stop some of the damage that has been incurred so far.
School boards would do well to attend to the demands of voting, tax-paying parents and to serve ALL students well by simply teaching academics specifically and character generally. Social mores are in flux in our country, no longer as cohesive as they once were. Therefore, bending to the demands of every specific focus group can never succeed for public schools. Consider the mission of public schools. Public does not just mean “of or provided by the government.” Its primary meaning, according to the New Oxford American Dictionary, is “of or pertaining to the people as a whole,” and “open to or shared by all the people of an area or country.” Not pertaining to each individual focus group, rather to the people as a whole. If school boards can’t be trusted to provide that, then parents are forced to get more involved or get their children out. Yet, the challenge for school boards increasingly is how to find the sweet spot of what truly is “shared by all the people of their area” or community. The model policies can help public schools return to their real mission to the whole community.
In every community, all parents seek and students deserve classrooms where real, productive, research-based teaching occurs. They want an education that is a gateway to personal growth and financial security. Teach history and reading, math and science, and stay on topic. Hold teachers, administrators, and publishers responsible for fairly presenting multiple sides to debatable academic topics in middle and high school. But also equip, support, and hold responsible those who teach younger students to teach them to read, learn the storied panorama of history, and master the foundations of math without trying to color their vision of society. The school boards need to stand up to activist groups and do their jobs: Simply provide education in a way that serves the people as a whole. Teachers, not just parents, will largely be grateful for this simplification of classroom expectations and the benefits it will reap for all students, not just a few.
These model policies are a wake-up call to school boards and teachers to attend to the voices of those who innately care most about the children: their parents. Thank you, Virginia legislators and Governor Youngkin, for listening and acting on behalf of every member of our most vulnerable population and those who love them.