Mask mandates. Critical Race Theory. Transgender discussions. Debates about Covid-19 vaccination status.
It used to be that back to school meant reading lists, math homework, extracurricular activities and finding your homeroom.
But in the 2021-2022 school year, parents with children in public schools across the state, and even in private schools, are shocked to discover that learning is not just about sharpening reading, writing and math skills. Instead, the focus is on radical ideologies concerning race, gender and climate.
Students are being re-educated with militant concepts that gender is fluid and not a rigid construct and thus a male can birth a baby, a woman can transition to a man, and Critical Race Theory (CRT) that teaches students that whites have inherent racist tendencies.
Unsuspecting parents believe their tax dollars are funding instruction in math, reading, and writing skills and instead are shocked to learn a whole foreign agenda has seeped into the classroom.
Activists are putting their own agendas and fears first – especially education leaders and teachers’ unions – instead of being concerned for impressionable children.
The current mask debate is just another example of how the classroom is becoming a place for activists to make political stands. Families are being pitted against one another as seen last week in Cobb County where there were vehement protests for and against establishing a mask mandate in public schools for pupils– all because of divisive government overreach into decision making that should be left up to the parents.
Since when did Georgia families decide that they want the public schools to take over the roles that have been traditionally seen as those of the parents? Do parents really want schools re-educating students in areas of race, gender and climate? Do parents want to forfeit their right to make health decisions for their children in terms of vaccines and masks over to the county?
We are facing a critical impasse in education in Georgia. This is the moment that parents need to stand up and unequivocally reject the government’s takeover of roles that are traditionally the parent’s domain. Parents need to loudly declare that they don’t want the schools teaching their children “cultural competencies” around race, gender and climate. Parents need to tell state and local education officials that they are the ones who make healthy decisions for their children and that they have no intention of ceding those rights.
Public schools are not the only option, and parents should remind their school boards that there is competition in the education marketplace. If the public schools don’t focus on traditional education, then they can and should shop around. Parents can homeschool, demand school choice and use private schools.
They should also remind education officials and elected school boards that they in effect work for taxpayers and should be responsive to their needs – not to political and cultural activists.
Parents must continue to educate themselves about what is going on in the classroom and hold educators and elected officials responsible. No longer can they assume a school is focused on basic educational content. They should do more than just review their children’s homework, check their grades and get them to school on time. They must be vigilant and monitor every course, every lesson and every program offered at every school in Georgia.
What students learn in their formative years will determine their success, health and confidence that will follow them into adulthood. And it will impact the kind of nation we have for generations to come.
Thomas is Founder and President of Truth in Education, a Georgia-based non-profit dedicated to protecting minors from questionable education concepts that have seeped into education and advocating for the rights of parents to control the education and health of their kids.