John White
Louisiana State Superintendent of Education

I wrote about this earlier today on another blog, but wanted to expand my comments here.  Over the weekend Diane Ravitch, defender of public teachers and public education everywhere, responded to the statement that the Louisiana State Superintendent of Education, John White, made defending that state’s voucher program, “To me, it’s a moral outrage that the government would say, ‘We know what’s best for your child.’  Who are we to tell parents we know better?”

Frankly I find a comment like coming from a state’s chief school officer refreshing.  To Ravitch that must seem like  a great offense.  How dare anybody suggest parents actually know what is best for their children!  Let alone somebody who is part of the public education establishment!  That must have been a great offense to her.  I know this because she  published an outrageous letter written by an anonymous public school teacher in Louisiana who opposes Louisiana’s voucher program.   The letter reads in part:

I am  tired of this attitude about parents knowing what is best for their children. Parents are easily swayed by politicians, talk show hosts and preachers.  They rarely understand how schools work unless they are teachers themselves or have relatives who are teachers.   If their child broke his leg they would not try to fix it themselves even if they did not have health insurance. They would take the child to a health care professional.  So what in God’s name is wrong with taking your child to an Education Professional?  This debasement of teachers and deprofessionalization of of K-12 education has got to go before we get a whole generation of uneducated, dysfunctional adults.

Certainly they should  have a say and be part of the decision making about the child’s education  but parents also starve, beat, tie up, and rape their children.  They also spoil them rotten and don’t expect them to do anything and teach them that they are “entitled”.You have to have a license to drive a car, for your dog, and to practice most professions.  No license is required to be a parent.  I have also seen parents demand inappropriate programs for their child and not accept the truth that a child with a 30 IQ should not be mainstreamed into a college prep program.  I had a parent swear that her multihandicapped son could rollerskate when he could not even turn over on his own.  But I had to clean dried feces off the little boy’s butt.

Well I am soooo glad this teacher feels like parents should have a say.

Parents do know best.  That doesn’t mean parents don’t consult others – nobody is saying that, but as far as their children go – they know what is best.  Nobody knows a child better than their parents – no one.  They are the ones who provide for their children and are with their children seven days a week.  Parents also are the ones who want to see their children succeed academically, socially, spiritually, and – in the future – vocationally.  They will always be that child’s parents.  It is a parent’s responsibility to raise that child, not the government, not a school district.  It doesn’t take a village to raise a child, it takes parents.  A teacher what… has a kid in their class for a year sometimes more in high school?  That doesn’t mean teachers can’t advise, but the decisions belong to the parents – period, and it is simply arrogant to think that they know better than a typical parent what is best for their child.

Are there bad parents?  Absolutely.  Certainly in my years working with high-risk kids I have seen that.  Just as this teacher who wrote the letter wants us to understand that the vast majority of teachers do a great job.  She and Ravitch, who must harbor some of these sentiments since she published the letter, need to understand that the vast majority of parents want what is best for their kids and have their best interests in mind.  Therefore they are the ones who are in the best position to make educational decisions for their children.  However, there is a major difference how bad parents and bad teachers are handled.  Bad parents who abuse or neglect their children get prison.  Bad teachers usually get tenure.

Just because a small handful of parents abuse their kids doesn’t mean all parents should have educational freedom taken away.

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