Parents don’t have — and shouldn’t have — the only voice in public education

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times @mikemcgannpa

I hate to break it to you, but parents don’t — and shouldn’t — get the last word when it comes to public education.

Should parents have some say? Sure, and they do (arguably an outsized voice already), but they are far from the only constituency school districts and school boards have to balance to truly represent the greater community.

The needs of students — not always the same as the demands of parents — the needs of teachers and staff and the needs of the greater community, including the many people who do not have kids in public schools all have to be part of the equation. That’s why school board members represent the entire community, not just parents.

And to be blunt: just because you read something on Facebook, it doesn’t mean you’re an expert in public health or schools curriculum. Also, don’t assume a majority of your fellow parents — let alone the larger community — agree with you, because truthfully, they probably don’t.

As an example: some foaming at the mouth parents demand both in-person education and no mask mandates in schools.

Great. I’m sure that Joe Rogan or some twit on Fox News explained to you how this is your right — it’s not. It is also as realistic as repealing the law of gravity.

Keep schools open, but without masks?

Sure. Of course, you’ll quickly run out of teachers, support staff and bus drivers (all of which are already in short supply), as they get sick. Masks work and have for more than a century — and despite insane claims, they don’t limit oxygen or store CO, otherwise we’d have a lot of passed out or dead healthcare workers (we don’t). And kids, unlike their parents, are pretty cool with wearing the masks when asked to do so.

Without masks, a lot more teachers and staff will get COVID and have to stay home.

No staff, no in-person (or maybe even virtual) school. Regardless of your “beliefs,” school administrators can’t just snap their fingers and conjure more staff.

Also, what happens when immunocompromised Johnny catches COVID in school and dies and his family sues the school district for failing to maintain a safe environment? Or a teacher suffers long-term issues from COVID and sues? Liability insurance isn’t going to pay — and even if the district wins ultimately, litigation is really expensive. 

To be honest, I’d prefer my property taxes (which I pay in three school districts right now — two in Chester County) not go up because you’re an entitled, ignorant ass.

Masks aren’t a forever thing — and if cases continue to plummet as they have in Chester County (cases dropped by nearly half this past week) — it may make sense to stop mandating them sometime after Valentine’s Day. 

And as for the folks who claim masks do psychological damage, I’m curious about their stance on active shooter drills — which are a hell of lot more frightening. 

And then we get to politically-motivated and asinine arguments about curriculum and book banning.

We literally have parents – a small, ignorant minority — attempting to dictate curriculum and ban books like “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “Maus.”

This tyranny of the minority needs to end.

If you want complete control over what your kids learns or doesn’t, home school them. You don’t get to dictate what gets taught in public schools because “you don’t like it.”

You probably aren’t an expert in curriculum — unlike your local school district, which has multiple literal experts with advanced degrees who help make these decisions with your school board.

Just because you saw something on Fox News, or heard the local GOP chairman make laughably false claims about Critical Race Theory being taught in Chester County schools, it doesn’t make it true. It’s not.

You know what is being taught? The history of racism — and those who fought against it — in our county. The lessons, including a focus on the local history of the Underground Railroad and Bayard Rustin, are valuable and important. They teach important lessons about wronging rights and fighting for what is right. 

That the Chester County GOP continues to make false claims — outright lies — about critical race theory being taught in public schools is pathetic. They are a social cancer, killing our schools and social discourse.

If America’s history of racial and sexual discrimination makes you uncomfortable, so be it. You should be — our history is uncomfortable and far from perfect. It’s clear, more than ever, we really need to learn from it.

Aside from being poor public policy, wildly obnoxious and short-sighted, all of this stupidity is causing a problem: we’re running out of teachers.

Hell, who doesn’t want lousy pay, long hours (and the need to pay for school supplies for students out of their own pockets)? Add into it helicopter parents — and now, states offering “call-in” lines to report teachers who might stray into teaching something meaningful.

Apparently, lots of people don’t want to do this anymore. Shocking, right? No one wants to work for someone who treats them poorly and doesn’t respect them — and that describes way too many parents act these days.

As in, we’re already facing something of a teacher shortage — give it five years and it will be critical. Salaries will skyrocket — and so will class size, thanks to the Act 1 limits on property tax increases.

So, when you wonder why your property tax has gone up at the maximum rate every year, don’t blame your local school board. When your kid has 40 or more kids in their class, don’t blame the school board or administration.

Blame your local GOP candidates and officials — they’re either knowingly lying or just plain ignorant in causing this mess.

And if you can’t figure that out, maybe it is you that needs some education.


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