Let me preface my post here by saying that I am a product of public school education. With the exception of my first two years of schooling, I attended public schools for all of my formidable years. I don't have a problem with the educational quality of public schools, per se, but I do have a problem with the increasingly liberal agenda of many public school educators. I think that we have come to a place in this country where many local governments feel that it is their duty to usurp the authority of parents in regard to their children. "After all," they think, "we are much better at teaching their children than their parents are." And what came down yesterday from the 9th District Court of Appeals, I believe, is a landmark decision which will continue to push public educators further down this path. Thanks to Justin Taylor at the Between Two Worlds
Blog for posting this snippet
from the majority opinion:
...there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants' actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose....In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents "to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs" and that the asserted right is not encompassed by any other fundamental right. In doing so, we do not quarrel with the parents' right to inform and advise their children about the subject of sex as they see fit. We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select.
Additionally, I found these paragraphs disturbing:
Although the parents are legitimately concerned with the subject of sexuality, there is no constitutional reason to distinguish that concern from any of the countless moral, religious, or philosophical objections that parents might have to other decisions of the School District -- whether those objections regard information concerning guns, violence, the military, gay marriage, racial equality, slavery, the dissection of animals, or the teaching of scientifically-validated theories of the origins of life. Schools cannot be expected to accommodate the personal, moral or religious concerns of every parent. Such an obligation would not only contravene the educational mission of the public schools, but also would be impossible to satisfy.
As the First Circuit made clear in Brown, once parents make the choice as to which school their children will attend, 15074 FIELDS v.PALMDALE SCHOOL DIST. their fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished. The constitution does not vest parents with the authority to interfere with a public school's decision as to how it will provide information to its students or what information it will provide, in its classrooms or otherwise.
The main problem that I see here is that the 9th Circuit Court decided to not only rule against the parents in this situation, but to take the opportunity to set forth a precedent that states that parents have absolutely no right to be the exclusive provider of education regarding any subject that the state feels should be included in their curriculum (notice the subjects open to public educational curriculum in the above paragraph include "guns", "gay marriage" and evolution). This clears the way for the state to include any type of educational training in their curriculum without informing the parents of their intent. How did I arrive at that conclusion? Remember that this case was about the withholding of information to parents regarding questions of a sexual nature that would be asked to their children participating in a study aimed at "establish[ing] a community baseline measure of children's exposure to early trauma (for example, violence)." The problem the parents had was that while they were consented on the goals of the study, they were not given the details regarding what types of questions would be asked, several of which were of a sexual nature. So, what we have here is a court ruling that paves the way for school districts to teach whatever they desire to our children, without consulting parents or even giving them a heads-up in regards to the curriculum. Could this mean that even religiously informed views like those regarding same sex relationships could be usurped by the school systems? Where are the advocates of religious freedom on this one? Shouldn't Americans United For Separation of Church and State be up in arms? Is it still any surprise that Christians who are serious about giving their children an open-minded education no longer want to send them to public schools? And to think, the most controversial topic we discussed in high school was evolution, which our parents knew full well we were being taught. There is no telling to what a precedent like this could be applied.