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Davis Journal

CYCLOPS: Parents don’t have the right to keep their children ignorant

Feb 18, 2021 11:20AM ● By Anna Pro

 The opinions stated in this article are solely those of the author and not The Davis Journal 

A recent controversy at a Utah charter school spotlights the role of parents in deciding what they will allow their children to learn versus the rights of taxpayers footing the bill for the education.

The issue started at a charter Montessori academy where, like students enrolled in public and chartered schools statewide (and most likely, nationwide), pupils would celebrate Black History month by studying the past mistreatment of African-American citizens, the bravery of civil rights leaders, and the many notable contributions of Black artists and scientists.

A handful of parents objected, requesting that their sons and daughters be allowed to opt out of the curriculum. I’m not sure of the reasoning, but I assume some of the objection bordered on simple racism while others were worried about “progressive-leaning propaganda.” Naturally, defenders of Black History Month saw the opt-out request as racial prejudice.

Without dwelling on the racism argument, we need to consider the entire opt-out argument. As a taxpayer, I pay for an education system (including financing charter schools) for the reason that our society cannot thrive – and maybe not even survive – without a literate public. An educated society is essential even for couples who have no children.

If a parent has the right to opt out of Black contributions to U.S. history, where does it end? Can I object to a child learning about Thomas Jefferson because he had slaves or Ben Franklin because of his often anti-Christian beliefs? Should a student be dismissed from a Utah Studies curriculum because the parents don’t want the child to learn about Mormon pioneers? Should students be shielded from Shakespeare because of the playwright’s sometimes racy dialogue? Should students be allowed not to hear about Japanese internment camps due to the negativity of how American-Asian citizens were treated? Should those parents who don’t believe that American astronauts landed on the moon be allowed to opt-out of instruction on the lunar landing? And how about parents who want their children to practice yoga rather than participate in more traditional Physical Education classes?

The director of the Montessori school was disappointed by the few parental opt-out requests, but agreed since the “right to not participate has equal power as the right to participate.”

Maybe, but not on my dime! If I’m paying the bill, parents don’t have the right to keep their children ignorant. You can disagree with Barack Obama’s policies, but you can’t deny the fact he served eight years as President. Similarly, you can think science is baloney, but don’t tell me that gravity is fake news.

Thankfully, the parents withdrew their opt-out requests and Black History Month is being held at the academy. My advice to those who initially supported them is simple: If you want your children to be illiterate and uneducated, then don’t send them to a school funded by the taxpayers.