Detroit Free Press writer says it’s a ‘good thing’ parents aren’t in charge of public schools

Detroit Free Press editorial page editor Brian Dickerson faced backlash from Twitter users Wednesday after USA Today Opinion tweeted out his recent article claiming parents “aren’t in charge” of public schools.

“Parents aren’t in charge of our public schools – and they shouldn’t be,” he wrote Friday.

“That’s not a problem; it’s a best practice, and one that has prevailed in this country for a hundred years. It also happens to be the law,” he said.

The article, which claims that parents reserve no right to restrict access to certain materials for all students solely because of their personal convictions, sparked uproar from those who claimed parents, as tax-paying constituents of elected school board members, reserve every right to have their voices heard. 

NEW JERSEY SCHOOL BOARD’S LAWYER SAYS PARENTS CANNOT ‘DICTATE WHAT THEIR CHILDREN ARE TAUGHT’

Opponents critical race theory protest outside of the Loudoun County School Board headquarters, in Ashburn, Virginia, on June 22, 2021.
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein)

“So you’re just saying it out loud now?” nonprofit organization Accuracy in Media tweeted in response.

The Libertarian Party of Tennessee’s account chimed in as well, arguing that members of public education systems “don’t own the kids that go to the schools.”

Several comments focused on the democratic system involving elected school board members as representatives of their constituents – the parents – a concept Dickerson touched on in the piece.

“My concern here is public schools, which Merriam-Webster defines as “free tax-supported schools controlled by a local governmental authority” (emphasis mine),” he wrote.

“See? Not a word there about moms, dads or legal guardians,” he added. “Because public means everyone – or at least, every citizen eligible to vote in the election for whatever local government authority calls the shots in the school district they reside in.”

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Shelley Slebrch and other angry parents and community members protest after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.  June 22, 2021.

Shelley Slebrch and other angry parents and community members protest after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S.  June 22, 2021.
(Reuters)

Dickerson used the definition of “public” to support a claim that public schools must act as stewards of the whole, and to argue that parents are an exclusive component of the whole group the public education system represents.

“Those with no children of their own are stakeholders, too – and they have every right to expect that the schools they subsidize with their tax dollars will prepare students to live and work in a democratic society that includes people with political and religious views different than their parents’,” he wrote.

“It would be unreasonable for non-parents to demand that public school students be indoctrinated into a particular faith or worldview, or pressured to embrace political ideologies or religious principles their parents find repellant,” he continued. “But it’s just as unreasonable for parents to insist that public school classrooms replicate their children’s home environment, or to demand that public school teachers protect children from exposure to any idea or perspective they’re unlikely to encounter in their parents’ kitchen.”

UTAH PARENTS PUSH BACK AGAINST ‘PORNOGRAPHIC’ BOOKS IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS BY FILING OVER 250 COMPLAINTS

Amy Jahr sings the Star Spangled Banner after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S. June 22, 2021.

Amy Jahr sings the Star Spangled Banner after a Loudoun County School Board meeting was halted by the school board because the crowd refused to quiet down, in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S. June 22, 2021.
(REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo)

Dickerson urged parents who seek to dictate what happens in their children’s classrooms to look to other options, such as private schools, adding, “almost certainly you can find one whose curriculum, library catalogue and hiring practices are compatible with your own political views, religious values and cultural preferences.”

Others suggested that Dickerson’s take would be a losing message for candidates heading into the midterm elections.

“NO: Parents should have FINAL say in how, what, and where their children learn,” the Heritage Foundation tweeted. “They know their children better than out-of-touch, unaccountable bureaucrats or policymakers.”

“This is a winning message right before the midterms,” the popular Twitter account NYC Expat Mom sarcastically tweeted.

“When people show you who they are, believe them,” parents group Moms for Liberty responded. “Vote accordingly.” The group also tweeted that the op ed was “out of touch.”

More Twitter users pushed back on the piece by asking whether teaching creationism, abstinence-only sex education or more traditionally conservative views would be ethical as long as the teacher or school system approved.

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