Did last week’s elections mark the end of the anti-woke ‘parents’ rights’ movement?

The Nov. 7 election will be a boon for school board candidates advocating limits on “woke” instruction and classroom discussion of “divisive concepts” including race, racism, sexuality, and gender identity. didn’t work.

The American Federation of Teachers estimates that 80 percent of the candidates it endorsed in 250 elections elected. He praised AFT Chairman Randi Weingarten. result as a victory for those who oppose “banning books, censoring honest history, or destroying the character of children.”Liberal and moderate school board candidates performed particularly well. new jerseyPennsylvania, Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa.

John Vallant, an education expert at the Brookings Institution, said: was suggested The results could cause candidates to “seriously question” whether aligning themselves with “far-right groups” such as Mamas for Liberty or the 1776 Project “is good for their chances of winning.”

perhaps. But it is far from clear that the setback for the parental rights movement will be a fatal blow.

To be sure, the movement must overcome major challenges.Pretty majority of Americans oppose book bans and strongly support public school curricula that address the history of slavery, racism, and racism. Additionally, 76 percent of parents with children in kindergarten through high school are “completely” or “somewhat” satisfied with the quality of education their children are receiving. reception.

But few Americans would disagree with the proposition that parents are and should be responsible for guiding their children, protecting them from harm, and making decisions for them when they are too young. make. Furthermore, claims for parental rights are not limited to conservatives. In 1968, for example, black activists and progressive allies demanded community control. curriculum (“to supply the missing pieces of black culture” and “to counter the total focus on the Anglo-Saxon experience in Europe”) and the hiring and firing of teachers in the Ocean Hill-Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. When 18 white teachers were fired, the resulting strike lasted 36 days and affected nearly 1 million students in New York City public schools.

Many Americans remain concerned about public schools. In contrast to parents of current K-12 students, only 36% of the general population satisfaction The instruction that children in kindergarten through high school are receiving is the lowest since 1999.

Americans are sharp DividedThe debate over who should have primary responsibility for what is taught, often along ideological lines, is that 30% of teachers, 27% of parents, 26% of school boards, 8% of federal governments; 6% said they were state legislators. Thirty-eight percent of Republicans think state legislatures should limit the topics teachers and students discuss, and 48% think school boards should regulate curriculum.

Not surprisingly, then, parental rights advocates, including individuals endorsed by right-wing groups, were elected in the Ruby Red School District on November 7th. Said Forty-four percent of candidates won, bringing the total number of candidates elected nationwide to 365 since the organization’s inception in 2021. 1776 project claimed That means 58 percent of candidates were successful.

In Hanover and Roxbury, New Jersey, there was widespread support for restricting LGBTQ-themed content. In Morris County, New Jersey, five of the 12 candidates supported by Mamas for Liberty won. And conservative legislators from the Frankford School District in Sussex County, New Jersey, won three seats in a hotly contested six-person election. In York County, Pennsylvania, 36 of his 37 candidates endorsed by the 1776 Project were elected.

Parental rights zealots rely on simple but short-sighted arguments that do little to address fundamental issues. What criteria should I use to determine which topics and materials are age-appropriate? For example, what criteria should I use to inform parents about students who are experimenting with gender identity or who have changed their gender identity? What should the requirements be for notification?

Most importantly, should parents, taxpayers, and the majority of the public decide which books should be banned and which “divisive issues” should be kept out of the classroom? Should such decisions be made by a majority vote in each district or state? How should that majority be determined? What input should teachers, administrators, and school board members have in these decisions? Should it play a role?

Numerous studies have confirmed that collaborative trust among parents, teachers, and administrators, including respect for competence, expertise, and experience, improves academic performance and student performance. happiness. Sadly, bipartisanship and polarization make it highly unlikely that parental rights extremists will subordinate their agenda to this worthy and achievable goal.

Glenn C. Altshuler is the Thomas and Dorothy Litwin Professor of American Studies at Cornell University. David Whipman is president of Hamilton College.

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