“Parents need to stop being passive [and] push back,” Mandel urged.
“There's a lot of understandable and justifiable fear that, when parents speak up, they [or their kids] get ostracized as a result,” she added, but this should not intimidate them.
Mandel explained that a lot of schools used COVID restrictions as a way to prevent parents from having access to their child’s classroom.
“Parents need to stand up and say, this makes no sense,” she emphasized.
Mandel encourages parents to learn what the content is in every subject and to band together, like a group of parents in Montgomery County, Maryland who had concerns over a required book.
“Parents need to work together [to] make their voices heard,” including at school board meetings, Mandel recommends.
Simple steps to taking action
Nicki Neily, the president of Defending Ed, an organization dedicated to fighting what it sees as political indoctrination in the classroom, believes parents are not powerless.
“Knowing is half the battle,” she told CNA in a phone interview.
Neily said she encourages parents to start with Defending Ed’s “Empower” site, which she says is about how to “get smart about what your rights are.”
“What is the First Amendment? What is Title Nine? We cut through all [the jargon] because people need to know what their rights are,” she explained.
The next step? Ask questions.
“We encourage people to start small: start with your teacher. If you don't get the answer you want from your teacher, then go to the principal, then the superintendent, then the school board. But don't give up,” she said.
Neily said that schools are “notoriously opaque,” but this shouldn’t dissuade parents from asking questions about the weekly lesson plan, for example.
“We all know that children do better when their families are involved in their education period,” Neily pointed out. “If we're not brought into the process, we can't help them.”
If a school is taxpayer-funded, it has to be transparent, she mentioned.
Defending Ed has a team of staffers dedicated to filing public records requests for parents who have been blocked from seeing their school’s policies.
Filing a records request is sometimes a necessary last resort when parents want to see public documents kept by their school boards and other public agencies.
The rules for how and what you can request varies by state, but this is exactly the help Defending Ed and other organizations like Citizens for Renewing America provide.
“If parents are not able to find what they need, or if they're being stonewalled, we are always happy to step in and help,” Neily said.
Parental rights are affirmed in Church teaching
The Catholic Church’s long-standing position that parents have the right and responsibility to educate their children is a truth expressed by a number of Church teachers and in several magisterial documents.
Parents have the “original, primary and inalienable right” to educate their children (The Charter of the Rights of the Family) and it is “of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute” (CCC 2221).
Pope John Paul II reflected that “the education of children is a sacred duty and a shared task of the parents, both father and mother … parents are called to represent the good Father in heaven, the one perfect model to inspire them.”
Where to start:
Critical Race Theory