A leaked video of California high school teacher Alissa Piro lecturing in a virtual classroom session contains a stunning challenge to the student’s moms and dads:
“If your parent wants to come talk to me about how I’m not doing a good enough job in distance learning based on what you need as an individual – just dare them to come at me,” Ms. Piro states defiantly. “Because I am so sick to my stomach of parents trying to tell educators how to do their job.”
At issue, of course, are ongoing shuttered public schools in California, the majority of which have not fully re-opened since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.
Tensions remain high in academia across the country, as educators and parents navigate the uncertainty and unevenness of another virus plagued year. Grace and understanding should always frame conversations between teachers and parents, but Ms. Piro’s apparent hostility and agitation seems to belie a fundamental, philosophical difference of opinion.
By Ms. Piro’s standards, teachers know best when it comes to their child’s education – so moms and dads, butt out and frankly – shut up. To bolster her argument, the teacher contrasts her expertise in the classroom with the authority and supremacy of a medical doctor who should never be challenged by anyone but a fellow physician.
“I’ve never once gone to a doctor’s appointment and tried to tell my medical, healthcare provider how to treat me … Because I know nothing about that. I didn’t get my degree in medicine!”
Only parents do know something about their child and their child’s education – and apparently, far more than Ms. Piro seems to think.
Moms and dads don’t surrender their responsibilities and privileges as parents to a school or teacher upon enrolling their son or daughter in an institution, whether grade school or high school. Contrary to what Ms. Piro may seem to be indicating on her arrogant Zoom outburst, public school educators serve at the pleasure of parents, whose property taxes pay her salary, as well as fund and make feasible the entire school system.
History is a good teacher, so perhaps it might be helpful to acknowledge that the entire compulsory public-school construct is a relatively modern-day phenomenon. In fact, the United States Constitution doesn’t even address the federal government’s role in education. The founding fathers assumed it would be handled by parents in the home, pastors in church or on a state-by-state basis.
Over time, though, like so often happens, government’s role has grown to such an oversized point where a teacher is actually offended at the mere prospect of being questioned or challenged by parents of her students. This should deeply trouble us and serve as a warning.
As Christians, God’s Word makes clear that mothers and fathers are their child’s primary educators, and in matters of even greater magnitude than simply reading, writing and arithmetic.
“And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart,” we read in Deuteronomy. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise” (6:6-7).
For so many of us, schoolteachers have played critical roles in our lives, both personally and professionally. Like you, I could list them all by name. I’m deeply indebted to them and carry many of their lessons decades later.
But as schools and educators increasingly seek to socially re-engineer, politicize and even propagate false and dangerous doctrines to our children, parents must remain alert and engaged. Too much is at stake. They can’t afford to be bullied into silence.
There is no place nor time when a teacher should ever taunt, threaten or challenge a student or that child’s mother or father.
It was the famed English writer, C.S. Lewis, who once observed, “The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles, but to irrigate deserts.” Today’s dry school landscape is in desperate need of water – and lots of it.
Photo from Twitter