Teachers are without a doubt an important influencer of our children. As a father of three, grandfather of five, and the product of a public-school education myself, I can attest to the critical role teachers play in imparting knowledge, encouraging young minds and teaching their charges to think critically.
But, and I say this with utmost respect, knowing that many teachers out there agree with me but some do not: Parents are the ones who have the primary duty to impart values to their children. Teachers who presume to take on that parental responsibility cross an important biblical line, undermine the parental role, and do an injustice to their students as well as their parents.
That’s been a truism up until recently.
These days, we frequently hear leading voices in the culture urge another paradigm. A dangerous one.
It typically takes the form of a seemingly self-evident truth spoken to or about teachers similar to what we heard just this week from President Joe Biden: “They’re all our children.” Or, “They’re not somebody else’s children. They’re like yours when they’re in the classroom.”
And the president is by no means alone in expressing that sentiment.
In 2013, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, in a television spot about public education, straightforwardly said, “We’ve always had kind of a private notion of children. Your kid is yours, and your responsibility. We haven’t had a very collective notion of ‘These are our children.’ So, part of it is we have to break through our kind of private idea that ‘kids belong to their parents’ or ‘kids belong to their families,’ and recognize that kids belong to whole communities.”
To which Christian parents respond, “I don’t think so. Not now, not ever!”
We’re witnessing an important flashpoint in the culture regarding the role of schools vis-à-vis parents. For example, Virginia’s Democrat candidate for governor in 2021, Terry McAuliffe, will be forever credited with the political blunder of the year that perhaps gave the governor’s mansion to Republican Glenn Youngkin when, during a debate with Youngkin, he said, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
McAuliffe dug a deeper hole in a subsequent interview on the same subject.
“Listen, we have a board of ed working with the local school boards to determine the curriculum for our schools,” he said. “You don’t want parents coming in in every different school jurisdiction saying, ‘This is what should be taught here’ and, ‘This is what should be taught here.’”
For a state whose parents – and some teachers – have been engaged in some high profile battles with local school boards in recent years in places like Loudoun and Fairfax counties over transgender policies, Critical Race Theory, and inappropriate sexual content in school libraries, McAuliffe’s statements struck a nerve.
Parents in Virginia and elsewhere seem to believe that school boards are elected by them and are answerable to parents for what their children are being taught.
And they don’t like it when schools and school districts keep secrets from parents when their children are confused about, or having emotional or psychological problems dealing with, their sexual identity as male or female. They undermine parental wishes by encouraging students to indulge that confusion behind their parents’ backs, leaving mom and dad to deal with the emotional wreckage the schools create.
Parents are properly pushing back against that, not just at the ballot box, but in the courts. And state legislatures are enforcing parental rights in places like Florida, which recently passed the Parental Rights in Education Act, which requires schools to keep parents informed of any changes to a “student’s mental, emotional, or physical well-being.”
All of which is fueling the rise of the Mama Bear Movement, where moms (and dads as well) are engaging all across America against a progressive agenda in the schools that has designs on their children at odds with what those parents believe.
And, as I mentioned before, many, maybe even most, teachers wouldn’t dream of undermining parents. But there are many among the nation’s 3.2 million public school teachers with agendas, and they are even so bold as to advertise that agenda on social media. Twitter accounts such as @libsoftiktok have attracted over a million conservative followers who want to know what these far-left teachers are saying about their children and teaching them.
When I was in school, if any of my fellow classmates ever asked a question of a teacher that crossed a boundary from the pedagogical to the personal, the standard reply was always, “You’ll have to ask your parents about that one.”
And that’s still seems like the appropriate reply today. It’s the parents’ biblical duty to “train up a child in the way he should go.” (Proverbs 22:6). Reading, writing and arithmetic can be delegated to teachers, so long as those subjects aren’t used for progressive propaganda in the culture wars, as we’ve seen happening recently.
But the impartation of biblical and family values is best left to parents, who have been divinely ordained to accomplish that mission.
Photo from Shutterstock.