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Parents’ Rights, Yes. But Parent Responsibilities, Too

Phi Delta Kappan

February 29, 2024

Americans disagree with one another about all manner of important topics when it comes to schools and schooling. That’s inevitable in a nation of more than 300 million people. And even good-faith disagreements will inevitably lead to a certain degree of conflict and strife. That’s part of what it means to live in a free society. But respect for parents’ rights and a complementary commitment to parental responsibility can make these fights more civil, more manageable, and even educational.

Rather than creating a social media firestorm when troubled by a classroom assignment, a parent should say, “I’m going to talk to the teacher, express my concerns, and see if we can figure out a workable arrangement or alternative.” This kind of back-and-forth can be productive, even illuminating. After all, there are parents and teachers, on the right and on the left, who have objections to their children reading To Kill a Mockingbird or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or The Bluest Eye—even before we get to the more sexually frank volumes that have sparked so much recent controversy. Navigating disagreements with grace, mutual respect, and forbearance is a crucial skill in democratic life, and one that we could use a bit more of right now.

Read more here.