February 8, 2022

By Joe Setyon

It’s a simple question: Who should have the most influence over what schools teach children about issues of race and sex?

There’s a simple answer, too: parents. And Americans are on board.

According to a new poll, the American people overwhelmingly rate “parents” as the most appropriate group to influence conversations with kids about race and sex. The poll’s results offer proof that Americans think parents—not government bureaucrats—should have a strong say in what their kids are learning in school. Moreover, they highlight the need for the Goldwater Institute’s academic transparency reform, which protects parents’ rights by requiring public schools to post their learning materials online.

The results of the McCourtney Institute for Democracy at Penn State’s Mood of the Nation Poll, released Monday, reveal that 41 percent of Americans believe parents of schoolchildren should have a “great deal of influence” in deciding how slavery and race are taught. That’s compared to 24 percent who favored the state department of education, another 24 percent who said the local school board should have a “great deal of influence,” and 13 percent who said the same of the state legislature and governor.

When it came to sexual education, a majority of Americans—51 percent—said parents should have a “great deal of influence” over what’s taught. Twenty-two percent favored the state department of education, another 22 percent favored the local school board, and 9 percent said the state legislature and governor should have a “great deal of influence.”

The poll shows that left-wing activists are radically out of touch when it comes to classroom content and conversations about race and gender. While the likes of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and 1619 Project author Nikole Hannah-Jones have been hard at work gaslighting parents and trying ensure they don’t have a say in what their children are taught, it’s clear that the American people want to empower parents to be involved.

Unfortunately, parents are not able to engage with their kids around what they’re going to be learning on these topics when public school officials try to hide classroom content. And hide it they do—and worse.

Take Rhode Island mom Nicole Solas. For Nicole, loving her young daughter meant staying informed about what her child would be learning in the kindergarten. Would the South Kingston School District be teaching age-appropriate material, or would kindergarteners’ minds be filled with politically charged rhetoric influence by controversial ideologies like Critical Race Theory (CRT) and gender theory? 

Solas emailed the school principal and asked to see the curriculum before she enrolled her kindergarten-age daughter there. When she couldn’t get any answers, Goldwater stepped in and made an additional public records request on her behalf. Then, the school district said it would cost $74,000 to provide the simple information she sought. The National Education Association, the nation’s largest public sector teachers union, even sued to block Solas’ access to the materials.

“With these union members and education bureaucrats, the truth is, they do not care about our students, they don’t care about our parents. All they care about is getting to do whatever they want under the cloak of secrecy,” Goldwater President and CEO Victor Riches says.

But there’s a solution. The best way to empower parents to have a say in their kids’ education is by shining a light on the lessons being taught in our classrooms. That’s why Goldwater is standing up for the rights of parents like Nicole by advocating for academic transparency, including the institute’s model Sunlight in Learning Act. This common-sense reform requires public schools to publish a list of instructional materials and activities used during the academic year on a publicly accessible portion of their website. That way, parents can easily access information about what their kids are learning without having to go through cumbersome bureaucratic processes.

Our model legislation is making waves across the country—and making a positive difference for parents and families. More than twenty state legislatures are considering transparency bills to give parents the knowledge they need about what their kids are learning in school.

“Our children’s education is not a game,” Nicole told Arizona legislators last week as she testified in favor of Arizona’s version of academic transparency legislation. “We just want to know what is being taught.”

She’s right. It’s time lawmakers took note and stood on the side of parents, not the education bureaucrats who are trying to block parents from knowing what they’re telling kids. 

Joe Setyon is a Digital Communications Associate at the Goldwater Institute.

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