Opinion: ‘Parents’ rights’ may threaten students’ rights

Parents running for school board positions in order to take control of the education process is harmful to students


Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times / TNS

Parents debate “critical race theory” at a meeting of the Placentia-Yorba Linda school board in 2021. Since COVID, parents have insisted on more rights over their childrens’ public education, and school board meeting have been the battleground.

Freedom Tomasello, Opinions Editor

Angry parents continue to flood schools, each taking different approaches to induce change. Many resort to protesting while others take a more political route by running for a seat on the school board. Although parent input in schools is important, too much involvement may cause curriculums to change and history to be forgotten. 

Currently, House Republicans have introduced a bill known as the “Parents Bill of Rights Act” that would give parents access to more information about curriculum. Although these parents mean the best for their kids and claim to be “protecting them,” many of the topics they are attempting to remove or change are critical to history. This includes challenging books featuring black characters or restricting teachers from being able to speak of gender or sexuality in their classroom. In a class full of students it’s already hard enough for teachers to please each person, let alone adhere to every individual parent’s request on how to teach their children. 

School curriculums have changed and grown over the years, along with teaching styles. Teachers have their own ideas and techniques when it comes to doing their jobs and it is not feasible for them to change their approach for every single student or parent. 

Along with that, school can be seen as a place for students to get a sense of self. While attending school, students are able to become their own person by forming their own opinions on topics they otherwise would have been unaware of and by interacting with a diverse group of peers. This self-discovery is crucial and allowing parents to completely take control of what their child is learning based solely on their own ideas hinders that process. 

“Prohibiting classroom discussion about difficult history in the schoolhouse makes it difficult to have bridge-building discussions at the statehouse,” says chief policy and advocacy officer of Generation Citizen, Andrew Wilkes, in an article posted to Governing.com.

It is important for students to have the freedom to explore and learn from different perspectives, even if it may not align with their parents beliefs. With parents making their way into school boards and protesting subjects in certain curriculums, it becomes difficult for educators to provide a well-rounded education that includes diverse perspectives and ideas.

With parents making their way into school boards, it can create a situation where the curriculum is tailored to the beliefs and values of a select few, and it is important for children to be exposed to a variety of viewpoints in order to develop critical thinking skills and become well-informed individuals.