When a Utah teachers’ union stared down parents who simply wanted to know what their kids were being taught, it was a state lawmaker who blinked. Recently, Utah Rep. Jordan Teuscher introduced a house bill to require curriculum transparency in public schools. The Utah Education Association responded with an online petition, and even the ACLU weighed in against government transparency. A few days later, Teuscher had pulled down his own bill, asking for more time.
There’s a lesson here for Texas lawmakers. Any efforts to enact school transparency in the Lone Star State in the next legislative session will be met with equal fury. But when union reps testify that schools shouldn’t have to reveal to parents what is being taught, it’s the lawmaker’s job to ask why not.
We all know how this started; the education establishment spent the first months of the critical race theory firestorm denying it is taught anywhere but in a few law schools. The truth is that the National Education Association has been fully on board with promoting CRT in K-12 classrooms.
According to an adopted agenda item that has now been deleted from the NEA’s website, but archived here, the NEA would “Provide an already-created, in-depth, study that critiques empire, white supremacy, anti-Blackness, anti-Indigeneity, racism, patriarchy, cisheteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, anthropocentrism, and other forms of power and oppression at the intersections of our society, and [declare] that we oppose attempts to ban critical race theory and/or The 1619 Project.” The NEA also approved an effort to educate teachers on “the tools and resources needed to defend honesty in education including but not limited to tools like CRT.”
Numerous examples of CRT began popping up in schools across the country. Millions of parents became rightly concerned that replacing reading, math and science with, as one example, role-playing exercises on gender stereotypes might have a profound effect on the quality of their child’s education. Some parents who spoke up were shouted down, silenced, and even arrested for demanding answers about what schools were teaching. The National School Boards Association compared parents to terrorists.
And it wasn’t just CRT. Books with highly sexualized and pornographic material were found in school libraries. Two California teachers allegedly tried to brainwash a student into changing genders behind her mother’s back. A Tennessee school board told parents not to eavesdrop on virtual classes.
When called out on these things, the education establishment began crying censorship. And that’s the line being taken by the ACLU now.
“Curriculum transparency bills are just thinly veiled attempts at chilling teachers and students from learning and talking about race and gender in schools,” the organization tweeted.
This response raises a clear question: What is it, precisely, that a teacher wants to talk about with a child that he or she doesn’t want their parent to know about?
Texas statutes and U.S. constitutional law are clear—parents are in charge. When the 1619 Project’s Nikole Hannah-Jones said “I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” she said out loud what the unions and the ACLU, among others, are thinking.
But the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed parents’ rights.
“The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations,” the Court ruled in Pierce v. Society of Sisters (1925).
Public schools are government institutions. Transparency and accountability are part of the arrangement. It’s not censorship to require the Water Department to open up its books; it’s not oppression to ask that the City Council conduct its business out in the open.
Likewise, parents have a right to know what information schools plan to use (and by what means) to provide a quality education to their children. They deserve full transparency on curricula, teaching materials, and any assigned readings and videos.
Sure, there will be pushback from the unions. But just as Texas lawmakers stood firm in banning CRT from our public schools, they must stand firm against demands that schools be allowed carte blanche with our children.