50 Million Parents To Lose Parental Rights

This article is the first in a series on the US government’s parental rights grab, in which the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided parents had NO right to direct the upbringing of their children beyond the doors of a public school.

Please read the article; please sign the petition. I have.

ADDED MUCH, MUCH LATER: For the sort of thing that has ALREADY appeared in some public schools, and that parents would lose the right to opt their children out of, follow this link. (Added later because I had to do a bunch of back-checking to make sure this had really happened—the level of venom and hysteria on some sites made me think it might have been made up. It wasn’t.)

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About the author: Novelist, writing teacher, on a mission to reprint my out-of-print books and self-publish my new ones.

88 comments… add one
  • Ien Nivens Sep 7, 2010 @ 15:03

    Holly,

    I admire the fight in you, and I wish we could be on the same side in this question of a constitutional amendment. It’s never easy to persuade someone who’s passionate about an idea that it’s both a losing battle and the wrong one, while at the same time trying to convince that person that you are on the same side in a larger war.

    The proposed Parents’ Rights Amendment (PRA) is poorly written, poorly conceived and therefore dangerous. In addition to the problems I pointed out (in comment #75, which is still “awaiting moderation”–I assume because it escaped your notice, since there is nothing inflammatory in it) the PRA plays into the hands of those whose aims are to indoctrinate and it ties the hands of those who would educate.

    However repugnant “Fistgate I” was, it was not part of the regular curriculum. It was held off the public school campus at Tufts. School buses transported students to it. A parents’ rights amendment would not have prevented it, since parents had to opt their kids IN (by signing releases) in order for them to attend it. No student was required to attend. So there would have been no opportunity to opt out of anything. It would have gone forward. So would “Fistgate II”. The fact that the first event (and probably the second, but we have no proof of that) violated common decency does not mean that it would have violated the language of the PRA. The amendment does nothing to prevent the indoctrination of the children of those who don’t know, don’t care or who actively encourage sexual experimentation among minors. So “Fistgate” is not, in fact, relevant to the question of parents’ rights. Not, that is, in the way you suggest.

    With the PRA in place, however, why not hold “Fistgate III” at school, during school hours? Why not make it part of the standard curriculum everywhere, since parents who might object could simply opt their kids out, send them to study hall instead? Only that’s not what will happen. Instead, fisting kits will be passed out during biology class, and your kids will have to sit that out. Or health class. Or sociology. Or American history, since GLESN is all about civil rights. Think I’m kidding? Think I’m exaggerating? Take a look at who’s in charge of the “safety” of public schools. That number again, to call and ask for Kevin Jennings’ resignation, is 800-872-5327.

    So Johnny’s parents opt him out of biology, and he doesn’t learn about cell division with the rest of his classmates. No student lives or learns in a vacuum. A constitutional amendment that guarantees a parent’s right to keep him from learning what he needs to know isn’t going to stop Mark or Suzy from sharing that Ms. Sexed says a tongue ring will enhance his social life. That’s why I say it’s the wrong battle. It does nothing to protect your child. It just makes educating him or her more difficult for the dedicated majority of teachers who understand the difference between public education and social engineering.

    33 state legislatures or two-thirds of Congress are required to formally propose a constitutional amendment. 38 of the 50 states would have to ratify it. The Equal Rights Amendment expired after a 17-year run or (depending on who you ask) has remained pending since 1972. Another amendment has been pending since 1810. Jonathan Horton has a very strange sense of history or time or both when he says that ParentalRights.org is “a short-term cause, not just another group looking for a slice of the political pie to perpetuate our own existence indefinitely.”

    Some uphill battles may be worth fighting. Not this one. Not when there is so much more that can be done that does not require a dangerous and counterproductive constitutional amendment. The states and/or the federal government can require public schools to make all course contents, including extra-curricular materials, public. This would provide the kind of transparency that’s needed in public education and that parents deserve. The nefarious and doctrinaire who masquerade as educators, whether they are represented by GLSEN in Massachusetts or whatever the KKK is calling itself in Mississippi these days, cannot stand the light of public scrutiny. The Parents’ Rights Amendment would do nothing to ensure “the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.” It would only empower parents to bury their heads in the sand.

    Knowledge is power. Willful ignorance is neither a right to demand nor a trait to perpetuate.

  • Laura Sep 7, 2010 @ 10:35

    oops! was GOING to say…I have to confess that when I clicked the link I thought the article would be a big overreaction to something that wouldn’t bother me at all. I certainly don’t have any problems with any of the sexual preferences/acts/orientations that were being taught there, in themselves, but fourteen is just WAY too young for that. Sex education at that age should be about having information to make informed choices in the future, not a how-to guide for kids who shouldn’t be sexually active for at least a couple of years whether gay or straight or whatever. I never knew anyone at school (British Catholic state school) who did pull their kids out of sex education and I would have thought it pretty unnecessary, but then our classes were pretty factual.

  • Laura Sep 7, 2010 @ 10:24

    That’s insane…I

  • Holly Lisle Sep 4, 2010 @ 15:12

    Okay. I have been digging, because I wanted to make sure this was NOT one of those hysterical, over-the-top Save Our Children horror stories.

    It’s not. It’s validated all OVER the web—though I’m betting somehow it managed to miss your local news.

    This is an example of what is being taught in SOME public schools, and what parents will lose any right to object to if the Ninth Court decision spreads to other states.

    Parents have EVERY right to opt their kids out of this sort of instruction.

    • Ien Nivens Sep 4, 2010 @ 17:38

      This is an ugly and complicated story, Holly.

      Three Mass DOE employees were fired because of their involvement in Fistgate. One of them was reinstated after a lawsuit, largely because wiretapping is illegal. It violates a constitutional right. The people who made the recording, while they exposed something truly repugnant, are themselves suspect.

      http://www.eagletribune.com/local/x1876451791/Man-snapping-pictures-outside-school-caught-after-foot-chase

      One reason this story, which is now ten years old, has been resurrected, is to discredit Deputy Secretary of Education Kevin Jennings, an Obama appointee.

      http://www.dakotavoice.com/2009/12/mass-teacher-testifies-kevin-jennings-was-present-at-fistgate/

      It doesn’t take a constitutional amendment to get Jennings removed from his post. Call his boss, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, at 800-872-5327 and urge him to remove Kevin Jennings from the Department of Education.

      These are very different issues from the ones raised in the Ninth Circuit Court case. The students in that case were not being indoctrinated or encouraged to experiment with sex of any kind, they were given an opportunity to report, among many other things, on whether they had been abused or molested. In my opinion, an educator’s ability to help make sure that students have ways to report such things needs to be safeguarded, not handicapped.

      • Michelle Sep 4, 2010 @ 18:24

        Children were randomly chosen for that survey, not questioned based on any evidence that their parents were guilty of any of sort of abuse. That throws “innocent until proven guity” right out the window. The parents were not told the full nature of the survey, and frankly if I had kids that age I wouldn’t want them participating in it. Not because I have something to hide, but because I’ve seen the damage that can be done when a child misunderstands the question “Has your mommy or daddy ever touched you in a way you didn’t like?”

        • Ien Nivens Sep 4, 2010 @ 21:53

          Hmmm. I don’t read any of the questions that I see there as an indictment of any of the parents. The questions were way more general than that and not leading in any way. They don’t mention Mommy or Daddy. And the reasons for the survey seem pretty clear. Students were having difficulty concentrating, attending to their regular studies, and teachers were casting a pretty broad net in trying to find out why and to learn what kinds of help could be offered.

          Do you really ascribe to them a more sinister intent?

          A minor point that is nevertheless significant: The presumption of innocence is a guarantee that the burden of proof in a criminal case rests with the prosecution, not the defense. It in no way guarantees that an abused child cannot be afforded an opportunity to talk about abuse in an environment where it is safe to do so. This applies not only to the children of abusive parents but also to those of parents who choose to ignore, or simply don’t know how to recognize, the signs and symptoms of abuse. Educators, like providers of medical care, are trained to recognize those signs. Parents, of course, are not required to. There are no legal requirements that must be fulfilled in order to become a parent, no certification, no particular education. The only requirements are the biological ones. Kids need to know about them, about how to reproduce and how not to, before they become capable of it, not after. They need to be taught wisely and with kindness, and most of them are, whether they learn at home or in school.

          Most, not all.

          The presumption of innocence would apply if a parent, as a result of a child’s accusation, were charged with a crime, say, of statutory rape. It does not give such blanket coverage as to prevent a crime from being discovered.

          The decent, safe and moral upbringing of children is a goal that you and I share and that the overwhelming majority of public school teachers share. Is there a way to bring us closer to that goal that does not jeopardize public education?

      • Holly Lisle Sep 6, 2010 @ 16:55

        The fact that Fistgate is ugly—in how it came to be permitted as a welcomed part of public school education in one district, as well as in how it came to be discovered and made public—in no way discredits the following:

        The material on fisting was something presented in public school. Twice—once after a serious outcry.

        It was presented without the informed consent of parents who did not know what was to be taught. And the second time, it was presented with active intent to keep parents ignorant of the program.

        This is entirely relevant to the question of whether the government should be able to take away parents’ right to opt their children out of portions of public education that they do not wish to have them participate in, for whatever reason.

        That this issue has returned to the news (which is a surprise to me, because I don’t watch the news and haven’t for years), or the fact that it’s being used to highlight questionable behavior from an official now in power, is NOT relevant to the question.

  • Ien Nivens Sep 3, 2010 @ 17:45

    An elementary school lesson plan that discusses human reproductive biology is not the same thing as encouraging minors to experiment with sex. A class in alternative adult lifestyles, designed to reduce ostracization and bullying of children whose sexual attractions (not behavior) differ from those of the majority, is not the same thing as encouraging sexual activity or the adoption of a particular lifestyle.

    A teacher who encourages minors to experiment with sex deserves to be fired, perhaps lose certification to teach. A school board that allows such encouragement ought to be voted out of office. There are remedies for abuses by educators that do not require a constitutional amendment capable of crippling educational systems from top to bottom.

    A public school cannot operate under constitutionally empowered micromanagement by every parent with a student in the system–including separated and divorced parents with joint custody, whose ideas about what information their children should be exposed to are in conflict. (I see a bright future for attorneys specializing in intellectual custody battles.)

    Parentalrights.org is misleading in its characterization of the Ninth Circuit’s decision as a “rights grab”. The court in this case has defended the status quo, plain and simple. It hasn’t changed anything. It defended the right to a public OR a private education, but it disallowed the whim of parents to change a public school’s curriculum based on the parents’ claim that an existing right–to privacy–had been violated. The parents failed to prove that alleged violation. So now Parentalrights.org wants to change the rules. Amending the constitution to add a NEW right is in fact the “rights grab” that’s being attempted, if that’s the language people want to use. A proposed constitutional amendment is not a matter of defending an existing right but of introducing a new one.

    The “rights of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children” sounds reasonable. It seems so “fundamental” that it’s easy to see why people think it ought to go forward. And I don’t question the motives behind the desire to secure such a right. I do question the wisdom of it.

    I say, be careful what you ask for! This amendment has the capacity to paralyze the best educators and to leave your children in the hands of only the most unimaginative and conformist teachers available. It purports to allow parents to individualize a child’s public education according to the parent’s lights, but that isn’t what will happen. Schools will perforce be dumbed down further and further in order to avoid violating a new, broadly defined set of rights. Instead of challenging students to think for themselves, they will be forced to ensure that each student thinks like his or her parent. The result of that, whatever the intent, will be to guarantee that intellectual incest trumps education today and innovation in the arts, sciences, philosophy and religion of the next generation.

  • PolarBear Sep 3, 2010 @ 9:20

    The biology of where babies come from is one thing. I think it should come before the high school curriculum, but I’m not sure it’s appropriate before very late elementary school (5th-6th grade?) unless the child has asked before then (I’m thinking the belief in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny should be gone before they have to deal with where babies really come from, but that might just be me).

    As for types of relationships available, that might be more appropriate for a high school sociology class.

  • Danzier Sep 3, 2010 @ 2:41

    Ok. I’m a parent. I have one kid. She just started second grade in the local public school. I’m one of “those” parents that gets into everything being taught and not taught–because I HAVE to be. I’m lucky to be in an area where they really do seem to prefer that, and send home curriculum break-downs and make a point to communicate about tough stuff with parents. There is an option to homeschool in my area, which I would prefer…but my daughter is showing signs of having severe learning problems, and the school (having lots of info on the subject) is helping me to identify them (yes, her doctor too). I’m a little worried about my ability to teach her. I think there are state-mandated competency tests for homeschooled students, but I’m not certain of that. BUT I can still do things like read and discuss the Constitution with her, help her with her homework, and teach her to think for herself.

    Meanwhile, I have a part-time job as a pollworker. I have to quit that job before I sign the list, because one of the job’s requirements is to not be a political activist. I think they want to keep people from stuffing the ballot box, since only pollworkers could do that and most of it would deal in absentee ballots. (And no, I’m not up for arguing ways to “augment” poll results.) But the rule itself makes it hard for me to participate. There aren’t enough elections to make keeping the job worth sacrificing my rights, though.

    On the topic of sex-ed: My mom gave us short talks about how life reproduces itself, including in people. I haven’t done that with my daughter yet (getting back to my ability to teach her again). However, I can see very specific reasons to not let a kid take the class, such as the kid was abused. The school should not have to know about the kid’s past; the parent should find a way to keep the kid safe and from situations that would hurt the kid more. I’ve noticed parents of abused kids tend to become much more vigilant about the kid’s safety after, and those same kids (well, one guy in particular I know) become nearly overbearing when trying to keep THEIR kids safe.

    Issue 2: young children ask how babies are made. That’s biology, and I have no problem with my kid learning that. But when schools (like one middle school I went to) start teaching types of sexual preferences available to experament with, that’s not biology, and I would pull her out of that class. My parents were very involved with my schooling, and the one school wouldn’t let them pull me, so -I- pulled myself and refused to pay attention. To this day I know the number of tiles on the ceiling in that room. And I’ll be gutted before I let my daughter be encouraged to experament with sex when she’s in elementary school.

    • Danzier Sep 3, 2010 @ 2:44

      *experiment* in all cases. I think I learned to spell that word wrong. Sorry.

  • Marsha Woerner Sep 2, 2010 @ 18:28

    A lot of people seem to be forgetting that we’re not talking about the rights of individuals to control when their children learn anything about sex ed. We’re just talking about individuals who CHOOSE, for whatever reason (including financial) to send their children to public school not being able–or allowed–to cherry pick which lessons are taught in the public school. Individuals do have the right to send their children to whatever education they can (afford), and they do have the right to do whatever augmentation they wish. My children go to a private school which we will not be able to afford after this year. The input that we have into public schools is significantly decreased from that we have into the private school. This does NOT mean that they will learn only what the public school teaches them. But we are required to start with what is taught at school. We can add whatever additions or our presentations the desire, and if there are particular tenets or beliefs that we really think it important that our children grow up with, then you can be damn sure that they will get it at home! If there are things that the public school teachers that we do not want our children to be exposed to, then we have the right to send our children somewhere else. Meanwhile, the public school can’t cherry pick for our desires.
    just my two cents worth…
    (followed by a caveat: I use voice recognition because I cannot type. It’s not that I just refuse to type, but I really CANNOT type. Although I do attempts to proofread, I don’t see so hot, either. PLEASE keep that in mind when you criticize this post! I.e., if you do commenting on the actual content is okay. Commenting on misuse of homophones or words that sound like the right ones but aren’t is a waste of your time…)

    • Michelle Sep 2, 2010 @ 21:49

      You make a very good point Marsha. Public school is the most affordable and accessible option to American parents, but it isn’t the only option. There are private schools, charter schools and homeschooling, but all of those come with catches. I believe charter schools are difficult to get into, but I haven’t done much research on the topic. As you well know, a semester in a private school can cost as much if not more as a semester in college. And homeschooling is highly time consuming and generally requires that someone, either a parent or tutor, supervise the child all day, particularly the very young ones. A good tutor, even for a half day, can cost a lot of money.

      If a family felt strongly enough about it they might be able to pull it off, but with the economy the way it is, it’s a pretty big risk to be throwing 10,000$ a semester to a private school. That’s 10,000$ they might need for an emergency. So for many, the options aren’t very good options.

      I don’t think anybody here is arguing that schools need to add more to their curriculum. Demanding that teachers teach more, when many believe they have too much on their plates, is not the idea. Nor do I think public schools should be expected to cater lessons to every possible viewpoint that could exist in their student body. The topic of discussion here is the opt out options being prevented. How does Jane not attending the sex ed classes cause a major complication for the school? She can just sit in another classroom and do homework that period.

      Moreoever, this whole issue was raised because of the Ninth Circuit Courts decision in Fields vs. Palmdale. Children were given a survey during school hours by a school counselor, and parents later discovered that there were questions in the survey of a sexual nature. Some protested that if they had known that, they would not have opted their children out. The courts decided they didn’t have that right.

      • Michelle Sep 2, 2010 @ 21:51

        Correction to my own post, second to last sentence. I meant to write they WOULD have opted their kids out. Just strike the not.

  • klharrds Sep 1, 2010 @ 6:25

    I watched a documentary last night on the situation in Zimbabwe.

    The children shown on the film, ranging from 8 to 13 years old, were doing anything in a desperate attempt to get money to pay school fees ranging from $5 to 50 cents per term. They were illegally panning for gold and digging in rubbish for old bottles and bones. Others had given up any hope of education while caring for their relatives and living on food aid from the US.

    If you are interested have a look at the link.

    http://zimbabweschildren.org/

    I thought it might give a new perspective to our discussion on education.

    • Holly Lisle Sep 1, 2010 @ 15:40

      Not really. The availability of education (and other countries not providing such availability) has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

      The site demonstrates that Zimbabwe’s form of government is atrocious, and centers on enriching the people in power while trampling on everyone else—but those of us who had friends in Rhodesia when it became Zimbabwe through slaughter and thuggery already pretty much knew that.

  • Jennifer from Phoenix Aug 31, 2010 @ 12:18

    Well, I spent too much of my “writing” time yesterday doing the research for my post, so I will just say that from my reading of the UN Convention, it stresses over and over the rights of family, and even extended family, over the rights of the state–which I think we can all agree with. And the UN treaty does not deal directly with families, it deals with governments: now how those governments choose to interpret the treaty may be something else; I have no knowledge of that.

    I need to write now! Great discussion…

    • Holly Lisle Sep 1, 2010 @ 15:45

      You really, really want to look into how that document is being applied. In the countries where it has been signed, rights are being stripped from families in a regular and systematic fashion.

      • Julian Adorney Sep 1, 2010 @ 15:57

        Holly,

        Not that I don’t believe you, but would you care to provide examples? Or, better yet, the links to your research? I want to see the examples for myself.

        I’ve read the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and I agree with Jennifer: it sounds benign. Then again, lots of documents with potentially deadly or inhuman consequences are couched in ‘benign’ language (Richard Cohen’s abominable book COMING OUT STRAIGHT, for instance, couched its slander and homophobia in the terms of a ‘self-help’ book)

        • Holly Lisle Sep 8, 2010 @ 10:56

          I’ve added a link to how the “Rights of the Child” is affecting folks in other countries.

          Link One: Crackdown On Homeschooling In The Near Future?

          Link Two: Legalized Child Abuse In Germany

          I’ll note something that I find amusing:

          ARTICLE 14 of the Rights of the Child Treaty is—

          1. States Parties shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

          2. States Parties shall respect the rights and duties of the parents and, when applicable, legal guardians, to provide direction to the child in the exercise of his or her right in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

          3. Freedom to manifest one’s religion or beliefs may be subject only to such limitations as are prescribed by law and are necessary to protect public safety, order, health or morals, or the fundamental rights and freedoms of others.

          Note all the Muslim nations that have amended the treaty to nullify this one in order to maintain their national “right” of sharia law.

          Consider that Catholicism requires that any child of a Catholic parent must be raised Catholic. I wonder how dedicated Catholics have overlooked how this treaty affects their religious obligations.

          My point here being that the treaty will not protect those it most needs to protect—daughters and sons unfortunate enough to live under sharia law will still be legally murdered by their fathers for any number of “sins,” infant girls will still be genitally mutilated shortly after birth, and whole nations of girls will have no rights because of their gender and will grow up to be women who have no rights.

          The treaty will, however, use the best of those who mean well against them—in countries where it has been ratified in full, without amendment, it is being used to pull children away from parents for spurious reasons, to force children into a public education systems that no one in their right mind can actually claim is doing a good job of teaching students what they need to know to live good lives, and to remove from parents their rights to bring up their children according to their own philosophies and beliefs.

          Finally—on the topic of education again, and especially on the quality and content of public-school education in this country:

          A frightening number of government-educated folks—as evidenced even in a couple of posts here—aren’t the least worried that they don’t know anything about history (where in the past and in the present compulsory government education has been used to spread both fascism and communism), or science, but are grateful they were given demonstrations on how to use a condom so they could “kick up their heels and have fun” in school.

          They don’t realize they were cheated out of a legitimate education, and so cannot be expected to protest any moves that would cheat others out of actually learning.

          For any of you who want to know WHY you learned what you learned in school, though, or want to understand why kids give up on learning when they’re very young, I recommend the following:

          NYC Award-Winning public school teacher John Taylor Gatto’s book Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling is both short and shocking: it was the book that started me on the path from mostly-contented parent of public-school-educated kids to homeschooler.

          And for those of you who want a more in-depth treatment of the damage public school does to your kid’s ability to learn—and why it does it—I recommend The Underground History of American Education, which demonstrates what American public schools are doing, why we’re spending a gawdawful amount of money for education that produces people who can’t read, write, or think—and why the government is getting exactly what it wants and has paid for.

          • Julian Adorney Sep 8, 2010 @ 14:31

            Holly,

            Link 1: certainly a disturbing trend. I’ll probably never have kids and wouldn’t home-school them if I did, but I defend the rights of parents who do want to home-school their kids, to do so.

            Link 2: That’s just fucked up.

            The rest: I agree. Completely. Our education system’s far from perfect, and having read Gatto’s work I’m inclined to agree with him and you: our government’s producing automatons instead of thinkers, and doing it deliberately.

            Also, I agree that we need a complete understanding of history (and science, by extension) if we’re going to think for ourselves. The people I’m most frightened by in our country (I’m using the US for convenience, to make my point; but it obviously applies to every country) aren’t religious fundamentalists or even bigots. The people who scare me are the ones who don’t know our founding fathers from Adam, who don’t know what happens to an economy when you print too much money or constrict it too fast (as happened in the 1970s and 1830s, respectively), and who have no idea why the 22nd Amendment was ever ratified. ‘He who knows only his own generation remains always a child’ – and children in this sense are the people (of all ages) who can be manipulated by anyone with charm and a couple hole-ridden arguments.

  • Jennifer from Phoenix Aug 30, 2010 @ 15:37

    Oh, dear….

    I agree with you, Holly, that the 2005 9th Circuit Court decision–as quoted by the website you referenced, Parentalrights.org–is a scary thing. However, it is NOT a new thing! I checked out the court’s entire opinion at openjurist.org (copy and paste this address http://openjurist.org/427/f3d/1197/fields-v-palmdale-school-district )
    and found that the Court cited a 1995 decision (Brown) in paragraphs 15-17 which had already made the point that parents have the fundamental right to decide which schools their children attend, but they cannot dictate the curriculae of the public schools based on personal moral or religious considerations.
    “We cannot see that the Constitution imposes such a burden on state educational systems, and accordingly find that the rights of parents as described by Meyer and Pierce do not encompass a broad-based right to restrict the flow of information in the public schools.”
    I also noticed that the Court said (twice!) that they did not have the job of ruling on the wisdom of the survey administered to the students. I wonder if there was some regret there…

    So, for 15 years, the law has been: you can choose your child’s school, you can home-school your child in some states, you can refuse permission for your child to participate in some activities (the parents in this case had the opportunity to refuse to sign permission;) but you cannot cherry-pick the public school curriculae to suit yourself unless you run for school board president.

    The interesting thing about websites such as Parentalrights.org is that they have an agenda–their current agenda seems to be to defeat any possibility of the US Senate ratifying the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has only been rattling around since 1989. (See http://www.parentalrights.org/vertical/Sites/%7BC49108C5-0630-467E-9B9B-B1FA31A72320%7D/uploads/%7BD55811D1-F884-44EE-892C-793B36FBA5D9%7D.PDF ) Geek that I am, I read that too, and it seems benign to me. I wish we would ratify it–and follow it!

    Rant over–you may now return to your regular ummm…programming?

    • Jonathan Horton Aug 30, 2010 @ 16:08

      Jennifer,
      We at ParentalRights.org agree with you that having parents cherry-pick curriculum would be a problem. Chaos, in fact. Our argument is regarding the need to allow parents to opt-out, which the Palmdale case undermined. In fact, the case pretty much says that parents shouldn’t be able to opt their children out of things they find offensive.

      You state that websites like us “have an agenda,” which is a convenient way to dismiss anyone you disagree with, but doesn’t tell the whole story. We’re clear and upfront that our only “agenda” is passing the Parental Rights Amendment and permanently preventing the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We’re a short-term cause, not just another group looking for a slice of the political pie to perpetuate our own existence indefinitely.

      Simply reading the UN’s CRC treaty doesn’t give you an accurate picture of what’s going on around the world in terms of interpretation and implementation. I don’t have time to go into the details here, but we go into great detail on our website about some of the problems with the treaty itself and some of the ways it has been implemented in multiple countries around the world.

      Thanks, Holly, for initiating a great discussion on your blog! We’ve gotten a good number of hits from people who were directed to us through your site.

      • Holly Lisle Sep 1, 2010 @ 15:35

        You’re welcome. I generally don’t do causes. But preserving parental rights is about a layer of erosion of rights that extends far deeper than most people see. Most people DO think the UN Convention on the Rights Of The Child is benign.

        You offered an opportunity to for me to publicly present something that is important to me privately, and perhaps to make a stand that matters. Thank you for that.

    • Texanne Aug 30, 2010 @ 21:21

      The State has no interest in developing citizens who can think for themselves. Rather, it has a strong interest in turning out docile automatons who will do as they are told–all the while believing themselves to be self-actualized.

      And No, the UN’s meddling in family affairs is not the least bit benign. Not the least–though they are adept at making it sound good. It sounds especially good to those who have been carefully prepared to receive that message and pronounce it “benign.”

  • PolarBear Aug 30, 2010 @ 11:38

    Julian, you’re entitled to your opinion on the Ninth Circuit’s decision. I would offer we are ALL indoctrinated into something. The K-12 curricula is ALL about indoctrination. It’s unavoidable. The question is whether that indoctrination is consistent with the belief system, mores, and culture of the nation, organization, community, family, individual accepting the curriculum for presentation to students.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 30, 2010 @ 12:18

      I have to differ here.

      There’s an enormous difference between learning and indoctrination.

      If you learn, you acquire the skills to gather subjective and objective data, to assess the data, to plan your actions based on your assessment, to act according to your plan, and to evaluate the results of your actions. You are able to study past mistakes against what you know from experiences to be true, and change your behavior to improve your life.

      In such manner, I used to be a liberal and a registered Democrat. I assessed what the party said versus the results of what it did, saw that while it talked about representing everyone its results were more and more people pushed into poverty and made dependent on the government, and quit the party.

      In the same manner, I wouldn’t join the Republican party for any reason—again, what the party says is utterly inconsistent with the results of the actions it actually takes, and I refuse to be associated with that sort of dishonesty.

      If you are indoctrinated, your are told what to think, but not why. You will be able to parrot the popular catchphrases of your indoctrination, but if asked why you think them true, will fall back on “this expert said,” or “these teachers said,” or “this court said” but will not be able to break down into detail WHY YOU SAID.

      Public school is about indoctrination. The evidence is everywhere. And to accept as valid a belief system consistent with the culture, mores, or beliefs of a nation is to accept a State Religion as valid, in spite of the highest law of the land commanding that the state shall not create one.

      Which culture shall be deemed acceptable? Which mores? Which beliefs? All of these issues can be given no wider or greater authority than the individual and individual choice, or all rights end up sacrificed to “the greater good,” — a horrifying phrase that means the destruction of the innocent at the hands of men who would be kings.

      Religion doesn’t have to be god-based to be religion. It simply has to demand that people accept what it says on faith, rather than challenge every tenet it raises with an intelligent, questioning mind.

      • PolarBear Aug 30, 2010 @ 17:35

        I’m not sure where we’re differing.

        • Holly Lisle Sep 1, 2010 @ 15:31

          😀 We differ, apparently, in our interpretations of your comment. Italics mine.

          I would offer we are ALL indoctrinated into something. The K-12 curricula is ALL about indoctrination. It’s unavoidable. The question is whether that indoctrination is consistent with the belief system, mores, and culture of the nation, organization, community, family, individual accepting the curriculum for presentation to students.

          I state that indoctrination is avoidable, and that there is no situation in which it is in ANY form acceptable.

          At least by your statement above, you appear to have accepted it as a necessary evil.

          • PolarBear Sep 2, 2010 @ 9:21

            OK. I think it’s my view of indoctrination. It’s not that it’s a necessary evil but that it’s not necessarily evil.

            I looked it up on my trusty dictionary.com (love it on the iPad), and I tend to work with all three definitions. The first includes a biased slant, but the second and third are simply, “to teach or inculcate” and “to imbue with learning.”

            I’m suggesting, given the human make up of a state curriculum board, all curriculum is biased to some extent. That’s not necessarily evil, but it is worth recognizing, and that’s where parents need to place their focus instead of on the school system. Unfortunately, while these boards don’t hide their work, people don’t necessarily find out what’s happening until after the work is finished. There was a huge flap in Texas this summer about text book selection at the state level, but that was the right place for people to inject their views into the system.

            The public school system, in attempting to carry out it’s charge, should be indoctrinating our children in the ways of being a good citizen of this country, but with that indoctrination should come the whys and wherefores of why they say the pledge of allegiance each day (assuming they still are allowed to), and how we came to believe Captitalism was the right economic system for this country, and why voting matters — and why someone should be an informed voter. With each of the whys and the history of how we came to be, there are, shall I say, rituals that have been passed along for generations.

            In private schools, there are similar methods of indoctrination — some of which overlap with public schools and some which don’t. My elementary school friends who went to the Catholic school in town had a catechism class as part of their schooling. If you went to the Catholic school, you knew that was part of the program, so that was not only the accepted learning but part of that indoctrination. I doubt parents sent their kids to that school and asked that they be allowed to skip catechism (but maybe they did…).

            Home schooling parents not only teach but, to some extent, indoctrinate their children into their beliefs and those of the curriculum they choose to follow for their children’s education. Certainly, they have more control and say into what the learning and indoctrination will be, but they’re both there to some extent. I would also suggest some parents who homeschool are more attentive to their children’s schooling than others.

            And, yes, sometimes it is an evil. And sometimes, it’s pretty subjective as to what is evil and what isn’t.

  • Julian Adorney Aug 29, 2010 @ 21:03

    I’ve always taken rationality to be one of the noblest goals for each of us as individuals. If we are intelligent creatures who can think for ourselves, who can reason through an argument and rationally accept or dismiss it, than that is the crux of what it means to be human. That will allow us to make informed decisions and avoid becoming drones. If we condemn rationality, than we end up like James Taggart or Mr. Thompson in ATLAS SHRUGGED.

    So: rationality is good, irrationality is bad.

    Now, in order to make a rational decision, you have to fully understand the decision you’re making, the consequences, and the alternatives. Stress that last part. You have to be exposed to different viewpoints, as many as possible, if you’re going to be fully rational.

    Now, it seems to me that the parents who want to take their kids out of school during sex-ed, evolution debates, etc, do so for two reasons. The first is because they don’t want their children to be exposed to the school’s viewpoint. In my school, these parents were the born-again Christians who didn’t want their kids to even know that evolution was a theory. It was the social conservatives who didn’t want their kids to know about contraceptives, and so pulled their kids out of sex-ed.

    Those parents are doing their children a disservice. They are robbing the children of a potentially valid viewpoint, and thus raising children who are close-minded and therefore irrational. Remember, rationality stems from an awareness of different points of view; only when you know the alternatives to choice X can you rationally choose X. These parents are robbing their children of knowledge of those alternatives.

    I would also contend, Holly, that the parents have no right to do so. This is because their children have a right to an education (which includes exposure to different viewpoints), and by taking their kids out of (say) sex-ed classes, they are trampling their kid’s right.

    The second class of parents takes their kids out of school because they think the school’s indoctrinating their children. This is, I think, more legitimate. These are the parents who take their kids out of a sex-ed class that says that contraceptives don’t exist or don’t work, and that the only safe thing to do is to avoid sex until marriage. In this case, the school is indoctrinating the students and thus hurting their education and rationality, and parents have every right to take their kids out.

    That said, both of my parents are teachers, I’m writing my honors thesis on our K-12 public education system, and I’m pretty sure that school curricula doesn’t indoctrinate children. The school curricula I’ve studied have been geared towards teaching students different points of view (ex. my History of Religion class where I learned about Christianity/Islam/Judaism/etc w/out being indoctrinated into any), or straight-up scientific fact (ie the fact that contraceptives exist and work).

    In the absence of this indoctrination, parents shouldn’t be able to pull students out of school classes because they disagree with the subject matter. My friend disagrees with what I learned in world History, she says that humans used to live 600 years until aliens came down and tweaked our DNA in 0 AD (not kidding). That doesn’t give her the right to pull her son out of World History. Similarly, parents who disagree with what students are learning in sex-ed don’t have the right to pull their students out.

    I’m wholly in favor of the Ninth Circuit’s decision.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 30, 2010 @ 12:06

      Your quote:

      “It was the social conservatives who didn’t want their kids to know about contraceptives, and so pulled their kids out of sex-ed.

      Those parents are doing their children a disservice. They are robbing the children of a potentially valid viewpoint, and thus raising children who are close-minded and therefore irrational.”

      In whose eyes are they doing their children a disservice? Yours?

      But by what right do you claim to dictate the manner or content of education another human being receives?

      By what right do you decide that your opinion is more important than that of the parents who brought their children into this world at risk of at least the mother’s life, with great expense, and with the immediate burden of a life-or-death, inescapable responsibility that only a new parent can understand, and only an old parent can fully appreciate?

      By what right do you negate the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights that protects freedom of religion, and by what right do you state that such freedom does not extend to parents teaching their beliefs to their children, if what they are teaching them does not meet your personal standards?

      In a free society, your rights begin and end with you. You, however, have demonstrated here the mindset of the person who believes that individuals do not have rights, that the collective must choose the behavior that is appropriate for everyone.

      You may not realize this is the stance you have taken, and this may not be what you truly believe. But if you read back through what you have written, you’ll discover that you have, in your statement, fully embraced the use of force to make people act in a manner you personally find appropriate, no matter what their wishes might be.

      This mindset is the end of freedom.

      • Julian Adorney Aug 30, 2010 @ 23:07

        Holly,

        Well put. You’ve convinced me: I don’t have the right to dictate a child’s education to their parents, and that’s precisely what I now realize that I was attempting to do.

        Some of my friends’ arch-conservative parents took them out of classes like evolutionary history, world religions, and yes sex-ed; I thought it was a shame, and that my friends were being denied educational opportunities by their parents. However, my thinking it’s a shame, and even morally reprehensible, to deny those kids educational opportunities doesn’t strip the parents of their right to raise their kids as they see fit. If my hypothetical children were being taught creationism or abstinence-only, I would absolutely want to reserve the right to take them out of class. I have no right to inflict a double standard on liberal and arch-conservative parents, just because I disagree with the latter’s viewpoint.

        My opinion’s rescinded. The right to disenroll your child from a class you object to should be reserved to you, the parent.

        HOWEVER, at a certain point (before they turn 18), children earn the right to assume control of their own education. At a certain point, taking your child out of a class that they want to take becomes a violation of their 9th-Amendment right to an education. When I was 16, I took control of my education, started taking AP’s, and started working towards Yale. My dad objected, my mom objected (for different reasons), but their objections were invalid because they rested on the assertion ‘parents know best’, which worked when I was 12 but quit cutting any ice with me pretty fast. I assumed the right and responsibility for my own education, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.

        When a child reaches a certain age (I’m assuming it varies from child to child), you as a parent have no more right to dictate their education than the school system does.

        That said, sex ed is usually taught when students are in 5th or 7th grade (at least mine was). At that age, only a child like John Galt would be competent to assume the right (and responsibility) of his/her own education. At that age, you as the parent absolutely have the right to dictate your child’s education.

        To sum up: the school system only educates your student because you as the parent give it the right to. Thus, your right to educate your child always trumps the school’s. That said, at a certain point your child assumes the right and responsibility of his/her own education, and any forceful intervention by either the parent or the school is a violation of his/her 9th-Amendment right to an education.

        • Michelle Aug 31, 2010 @ 11:54

          “When a child reaches a certain age (I’m assuming it varies from child to child), you as a parent have no more right to dictate their education than the school system does.”

          Yes, I believe that age is eighteen, when they have moved out of my house and are no longer eating my food. 🙂

          All joking aside, I believe that does vary greatly from child to child, and I fear this ruling my put too much power in the hands of say a sixteen year old who no longer feels that science or history should be part of his or her education.

        • Holly Lisle Sep 1, 2010 @ 15:29

          And here we are fully in agreement. In order for me to have my right to NOT teach my child Creationism, some other parent has to have the right to do so.

          And I agree also that children before the age of 18 (at least some of them) are fully capable of directing their own education.

          At the point where a child is capable of exercising judgement and thinking rationally, is capable of giving informed consent and taking responsibility for his own actions, he is fully capable of determining his own educational needs.

          States used to recognize this by setting the legal age at which a child could opt to drop out of school at between fourteen and sixteen. That is drifting toward eighteen in most states now (where school districts have a vested financial interest in keeping as many butts in seats as possible, because they get federal funding for each one).

          Freedom is a hard thing. For each of us to be free, we have to give every other person the same right. And then we have to understand that they might not choose to be free in a manner we like.

          But the only alternative to freedom is slavery. There is no middle ground.

  • Jeff Aug 29, 2010 @ 20:01

    Well, I do not have children. I am incapable of having children. And if I am completely honest with myself I couldn’t raise a child. I actually neglected a cactus enough for it to die. So, small things that require my nurturing to survive, won’t.
    That being said, I did sign the petition. I am tired of seeing legislation being put in place in order to restrict Rights or grant Government Entities the legal ability to ignore Rights. (I’m looking at you Patriot Act… place me on a list because I read a book in College. And yes that book came up when I tried to fly to D.C. for a Print Conference.)

  • Ien Nivens Aug 29, 2010 @ 18:42

    “The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects the fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.” This is referred to as “the Pierce right” in the text of the Ninth Circuit ruling that we are discussing here. (http://openjurist.org/427/f3d/1197/fields-v-palmdale-school-district) The ruling goes on to cite precedent cases that have established that “the Pierce right lends no support to the contention that parents may replace state educational requirements with their own idiosyncratic views of what knowledge a child needs to be a productive and happy member of society.”

    The ruling further points out that, “the state cannot prevent parents from choosing a specific educational program — whether it be religious instruction at a private school or instruction in a foreign language. That is, the state does not have the power to “standardize its children” or “foster a homogenous people” by completely foreclosing the opportunity of individuals and groups to choose a different path of education. We do not think, however, that this freedom encompasses a fundamental constitutional right to dictate the curriculum at the public school to which they have chosen to send their children. We think it is fundamentally different for the state to say to a parent, “You can’t teach your child German or send him to a parochial school,” than for the parent to say to the state, “You can’t teach my child subjects that are morally offensive to me.” The first instance involves the state proscribing parents from educating their children, while the second involves parents prescribing what the state shall teach their children. If all parents had a fundamental constitutional right to dictate individually what the schools teach their children, the schools would be forced to cater a curriculum for each student whose parents had genuine moral disagreements with the school’s choice of subject matter. We cannot see that the Constitution imposes such a burden on state educational systems, and accordingly find that the rights of parents as described by Meyer and Pierce do not encompass a broad-based right to restrict the flow of information in the public schools.”

    The parents who, by objecting to a survey conducted at their kid’s school, started this flap did so on the basis of a perceived right to privacy. In effect, they did not want an educator (who was concerned about students’ ability to concentrate in class) to be able to ask a child questions about:

    “Bad dreams or nightmares,” “Feeling dizzy,” “Wanting to yell at people,” “Wanting to hurt other people,” “Trying not to have feelings,” “Can’t stop thinking about something bad that happened to me,” “Wanting to kill myself,” Have you ever “[B]een threatened or chased by a gang?”, “Seen someone get shot?”, “Been in a car accident?”, “Been touched by someone, on your body, that made your feel uncomfortable?”, and “Know[n] anyone who has or is being abused?”

    I’m not a parent, Holly. I’m a citizen, an educator (not in a public school) and a retired correctional officer. I have been involved in the lives of many children, including the children of irresponsible parents who have retained (or had restored to them) the right to abuse their children in private.

    My own parents were loving people, but they didn’t really get the importance of a secular education. The did involve themselves at one point by disallowing my participation in anything that required dancing (think Footloose). I had to sit and watch others dance, and I was probably the envy of most of the other boys in music class. I was okay with that. I probably would have been okay with being excused from math, too, or history, or science or…

    You are right that their lack of involvement in other areas is not particularly relevant. The relevant point is that parental rights are a double-edged sword. The fact that you probably know how to wield yours without doing your children harm does not inspire my confidence in the ability of parents in general to pick and choose from a smorgasbord-style education that no school system can afford to offer, anyway.

    Parents have the responsibility to see that their children are educated. Public schools offer a secular education. That’s as it should be. No parent has the right to demand that a Jewish school teach everything except Hebrew, for instance, nor that a Catholic school teach everything except the virgin birth of Christ. Parental rights end at the school doorway whether that school is private or public. No new right is established in this case, and no previously established right has been taken away. Nothing new has been legislated. The status quo prevails. The petition seeks to overturn a decision in favor of the status quo and to institute a new parental right that seems, on closer inspection, untenable.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 30, 2010 @ 11:55

      Ien,

      You have made an intelligent and well-thought out statement of your case, and I deeply appreciate both the time and the seriousness you put into your response.

      With that said, I must still disagree.

      Here’s why:

      “I have been involved in the lives of many children, including the children of irresponsible parents who have retained (or had restored to them) the right to abuse their children in private.”

      As an ER RN, I’m sure I’ve seen exactly the same sort of hell you have. It’s a nightmare, and it’s one I still carry with me.

      Further, after my separation from my first husband, he began abusing both our children and molesting one, while threatening to kill them both (by holding a gun to their heads) if ever they told me. My son did tell me, when he was nine. Between four and five years after the abuse started. The bastard was convicted of several felonies, but did not serve a minute of time.

      To put it mildly, I have a dog in this fight.

      HOWEVER, it is at exactly this point that we either stand firm with “innocent until proven guilty” or allow our individual rights to be stripped away from us one at a time.

      To create legislation that removes parental rights in order to more easily catch those monsters who abuse their children is to create legislation that presumes the guilt of all parents.

      Pragmatism—that vile mental disease—states “Well, if they’re innocent, what do they have to worry about? I don’t see why any innocent person would object to having THOSE rights taken away.”

      And fascism will happily step in and take those rights.

      And I too am looking squarely at the Patriot Act as I say this.

      The erosion of liberty is rarely some massive assault from outside. Rather, it is the gentle creeping of a rising flood, as the well-meaning, the oblivious and the gullible cede an inch here and an inch there to “if you’re a good person, you don’t need that right,” from those who are neither well-meaning nor oblivious to the end result of their claims and their actions.

      • Ien Nivens Aug 30, 2010 @ 12:46

        Holly,

        I am deeply impressed by and appreciative of not just the courage and intelligence you demonstrate in expressing your convictions but also the courage and intelligence it takes to tolerate opposing points of view (on your own blog) in a matter that cuts so close to home.

        I celebrate the fact that we can speak freely, disagree, sign and distribute petitions like this one. Open conversation like this also resists the fascist tendencies in our society. I’ve had enough to say in this one, I think. Thank you.

        • Holly Lisle Aug 30, 2010 @ 14:40

          The ability to debate things rationally is part of what keeps society free.

          The joy in finding others capable of rational debate is some of what keeps me coming back to this writing diary.

          Thank you for posting. Please hang around.

          • Ien Nivens Sep 2, 2010 @ 15:39

            That’s a joy we share. I’m not going anywhere. Just watching.

  • Michelle Aug 29, 2010 @ 12:33

    “When you respond with, “I simply don’t believe you can abidicate responsiblity and retain rights,” I think you mean “should” not “can”. ”

    No that’s not what I meant. I said can and I meant can. In my opinion, a person cannot(underline three times) abidicate responsibility and retain rights. With rights come responsibility and without responsibility one has no rights. One may think they have rights, but I believe they’ll be in for an unpleasant surprise when they try to exercise them.

    Parental loss of rights within the schools means that parents can suggest whatever they want about what goes on in the schools, but the school has no obligation to listen to a word they say. And that terrifies me.

  • Ien Nivens Aug 29, 2010 @ 10:40

    Michelle,

    When I say that “parents can and often do abdicate their responsibilities but retain their rights,” I am simply describing a situation that occurs with some frequency in this country and throughout the world. When you respond with, “I simply don’t believe you can abidicate responsiblity and retain rights,” I think you mean “should” not “can”. Parenthood does not in every case come with a built-in sense of responsibility, wisdom, or even good intent. In our democracy, we often hear complaints about a lack of transparency in government, while opacity in parenthood is defended. Where governments exercise no authority over the way family business is conducted, children are abused without recourse, and so are women.

    I would respectfully submit that caring, intelligent parents who are proactive about the education and welfare of their children have less to worry about than those who are fearful of what their kids might learn from others, what influences they might be exposed to and who they might confide in outside of the home. Vigilance is required, yes, but not paranoia. Soviet Russia does not exist anymore. I support anyone’s right to sign this petition and make themselves heard. There is a case to be made for it. But if you do sign, consider not just your own right to shelter your own child from influences you distrust, but consider also the children you might thereby consign to enforced ignorance. Think long and hard about defending the right to willfully pass narrowness, prejudice and ignorance down generation after generation.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 29, 2010 @ 11:15

      Ien, you’re missing the point.

      Schools and government are pushing to take away from parents an existing right to involve themselves in their children’s education. No new rights are being added here.

      This fight is only to preserve rights that currently exist but are being illegally trampled by the government and school districts. The right of a parent to go into a school and say, “No, I do not wish to have my child participate in this school activity.”

      How many kids do you have, by the way?

  • Michelle Aug 28, 2010 @ 23:57

    “They installed into me that “collectivism” is the way to assist humanity. We are one people living on 1 planet. When 1 brother or sister needs help, we give it willingly.”

    I’m a capitalist, and I often volunteer my money and my time to help others. My parents, both capitalists, instilled that value in me.

    In my opinion, communism does not instill that value. The government simply requires it’s citizens to help each other. Even if a person truly enjoys helping others, they still know its required, and that there is no other option. To me, that only breeds resentment and malaise.

    “Parents can and often do abdicate their responsibilities but retain their rights.”

    I simply don’t believe you can abidicate responsiblity and retain rights. Because if someone else is taking on the responsibility of something for you, why should they allow you to retain any rights related to it.

    If you give someone full responsibility to purchase, for you, whatever food you will need to survive, you give up all right to choose what that food is. They might ask for you perferences, and they might listen, but you cannot complain if they don’t. You gave them the responsibility to feed you, and therefore gave up your right to choose what you would be fed. If, like me, you want a say in what you eat, you’re better off taking responsibility for feeding yourself.

    And yes, I realize there are people who cannot feed themselves, and must rely on the kindness of others to do so. For those that are truly incapable of finding and keeping a job, I do feel for them, and I’m happy to give what I can. But I believe many of them simply don’t want to find a job, or are not happy with the type of jobs that they can get.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 29, 2010 @ 11:11

      By the use of force to demand all citizens help all other citizens, the virtue inherent in individuals helping each other is erased.

      There can be no virtue, no good will, no kindness in humanity if force is used to obtain the desired result.

      And I agree. His parents did not abdicate their rights. Neither do the parents who don’t involve themselves in their children’s school lives. They retain the rights. They simply chose not to use them.

      When you HAVE rights, you have the right to ignore them. Might not be too bright of you to do so…but you do have that right.

  • Ien Nivens Aug 28, 2010 @ 18:04

    I am deeply appreciative of my own parents’ lack of involvement in my education. If they had known what I was learning in school, they would have pulled me out, and my ability to think for myself and to appreciate the world, the arts and the sciences (including human sexuality) would be very limited indeed.

    The only individuals whose rights have been discussed here so far are parents and governments. It is not entirely true that states have no responsibility for the care and education of children. Parents can and often do abdicate their responsibilities but retain their rights. When that happens, responsibility falls on the state.

    Ultimately, responsibility will fall upon the individual whose education is in question, provided that individual survives to adulthood. If rights and responsibility are the two sides of a single coin, then one ought to be allowed to grow alongside the other. A child who has no right to choose from among a variety of beliefs and sets of information but must conform to those of a parent will lack full functionality in any human society society larger than the family unit or a subculture to which that family belongs.

    There are dangers on both sides of this argument, certainly, but the parent who remains involved in a child’s education but does not have the ability to arbitrarily limit it or to insist that a child be taught patent untruth (yes, I do mean creationism, among other things) will still have the ability to influence the child’s choices. That parent also has the ability to influence a school board, a state legislature and some judicial positions.

    • Holly Lisle Aug 29, 2010 @ 11:09

      The problem here is that by legislating against the worst parents, you also legislate against the best—you introduce the axiom “guilty until proven innocent,” or worse, the axiom “guilty by fact of existence” into a country whose law is “innocent until proven guilty.”

      I’m not advocating the abolition of public schools. Neither am I suggesting that your own situation is unimportant. It is, however, irrelevant. Your parents had the right to involve themselves in your education but chose not to exercise it.

      What is going on now is that schools are increasingly demanding that parents have their rights taken away in the first place.

  • sad Aug 28, 2010 @ 17:59

    I think it is a sad day when the government steps once again into the homes of everyone. “Big Brother” is a term I remember being thrown around in this respect. The government has decided that the reference to religion in the pledge makes it “controverial” Retailers can’t have a manger scene without accomodating every religion. Phones are listened to, to detect terroists intentions, (so I’ve read and heard) Now they want to dictate what our children can and should learn in school. Where is it going to stop?

    I had a sex education in the 6th grade in the mid 60″s. It was not a year long, it was not a month long. it was taught during health that was about a week long and only covered one chapter. They should the required “film” I’m sure you all know the one I’m talking about. It discussed the difference in the male and female bodies. Sadly I failed this class because I was so embarressed. However, my mother never saw fit to discuss the facts of life with me. it wasn’t until lately, I’m now in my 50’s, that my mother told me her mother never told her the facts of life and she thought that was the norm.

    However, that said, kids today are more savy about sex than I was at that age and learn most of it from their friends on the playgrounds. When my children were growing up, any question they had I answered honestly and directly. I did not pussy foot around. Sex was always an open subject in my home. One they could always discuss. My daughter was 17 when she told me she had sex for the first time. Did I over react. No, I was saddened that she experienced it without caring about the boy, (but that seems to be the norm now) but she came to me and told me. This is the important issue. I was able to get her a check up and put on birth control. I wasn’t stupid enough to “forbid” her actions.

    I guess what I’m getting at, is that parents should make it comfortable for their children to discuss anything with them. Open communication whether it be, drugs, alcohol, or sex, would be to both the child and parent relationship. As for the manner that sex education is taught in school? I believe that a minimum may be necessary, mostly to discuss the consequentions of thier actions and about the diseases they could contract. These are the issues kids should be learning. They know about sex, they should be taught the realities of the act itself.

    I probably strayed from the point, but I felt I needed to add my opinion to the others

  • Sandra Aug 28, 2010 @ 17:27

    I was lucky my parents gave me sound advice and I trusted them. However, Holly, I would say to you that my grandparents were European and were Communists. Breathe! Holly! Breathe!
    They installed into me that “collectivism” is the way to assist humanity. We are one people living on 1 planet. When 1 brother or sister needs help, we give it willingly. Likewise in the work place under Union leadership. You must understand that the working conditions were horrible and the employers took full advantage of their workers. In the 1940’s and 50’s, in Alberta, mine strikes were frequent. The Mine Manager went on vacation while people starved or lost their company home. It is said that if you owned a “company home” you owed the company your soul. That was very true. Then McCarthyism spread its ugly face and my father and grandfather were blacklisted for 2 years (they had families) because they were suspected of being evil Communists. You know what their horrible crime was. Rallying the workers to join the Union so that they would have decent wages and safer working conditions in the Mines.
    I am now a Muslim and I see that McCarthyism is once again on the prowl. This time against the Muslim people. There is a lot I could say about this but maybe another time.
    The point I want to make about schools and sex education is that the parents should teach their children about the facts of life, but what is even more important is to teach them to think critically, to read, to have contact with others, to learn different languages, to believe in multiculturalism. Then the children will be fully prepared to face life and make political decisions.
    Thanks for listening,
    Sandra

    • Holly Lisle Aug 29, 2010 @ 11:02

      Collectivism is its own worst defense. When you look at the lives lived by Cuban citizens, by Soviet Russians, by Mao Chinese, by the Cambodian people under the rule of Pol Pot, by ANY state where collectivism is the law, you’re looking at oppression, poverty, lack of innovation, lack of progress, fear of the government, and the annihilation of all individual rights to the right of the nonexistent collective to take what you have created.

      Understand—there IS NO collective. There are only individuals. If individuals have no rights, no one has any rights.

      Care to test this out? Are you an individual, or are you a collective? Is any other person you know an individual, or a collective? If you have no rights, and every individual you know has no rights, then where have the rights gone? To the collective?

      Fine. Then who is the collective, and what rights does it have? The collective is everyone, you say. But you have just proven, one person at a time with yourself and everyone you know, that no individual you know has rights. You have, then, proven that “everyone” (defining the collective) has no rights.

      There are some folks who will certainly have privileges of special caste, who will claim the right to command that everyone else do what they say.

      But by what right do they do this? Certainly not by individual rights. The individual in a collectivist society has no rights. And those who seize power are still individuals. They claim power not by right, but by force. And hold it not by right, but by force.

      Those who question the power of the special caste will be imprisoned, tortured, killed, re-educated, forced into work camps—will have their families hunted down to make sure the poison of their thinking has not spread.

      And this defines all communist governments, and is the path all socialist governments gradually take as those in power collect more power, and individuals not in the special caste see their rights gradually slipping away.

      The thinking person cannot accept the erasure of the individual in favor of the collective.

      The stronger the collectivist enforcement, the worse the lives of the people living under it.

      It is our own progressively more collectivist government acting against the U.S. Constitution that the cause of our current problems. Including this one. But if you don’t mind, let’s stay on target on THIS discussion.

  • Shawna Aug 27, 2010 @ 1:21

    The U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child goes even farther then that, unfortunately… it’s not just once the kids are beyond the school door. It’s in your homes, too, if it is ratified.

    The parental rights amendment needs to happen. Otherwise, we really could see state indoctrination here. Parts of Europe are already experiencing it. (See treatment of homeschools, for an example. Anything that requires independent thought – their excuse being that it creates “parallel societies”.

    Alternative societies indeed! One would most certainly HOPE so.

  • Betty Aug 26, 2010 @ 23:13

    Just goes to show how important it is to get through to your kids before school does.

  • Texanne Aug 26, 2010 @ 22:12

    I signed the petition. Jeff & PolarBear are both good folks and don’t really have a disagreement. Must say, I was a little way into reading PB’s satire before I “got” it–mostly because government is getting harder and harder to spoof.

    klharrds, I find it curious that you equate parental values and positions with “prejudice” but have no such condemnation for curricula–which change whenever the NEA bets on a new set of consultants. This year (I do live in the US & share my house with kids in school) we are encountering yet another version of elementary school arithmetic. Two plus two always equals four (don’t talk to be about logarithms), at least so far, but the contortions applied to teaching that fact swing like a pendulum do.

    And the the science I was taught as incontrovertible fact has distinct differences from the incontrovertible scientific facts that are now being taught.

    Nobody that I went to school with got pregnant. Got that? Nobody. And this was before The Pill. Some were just lucky, but most were–tada!–chaste. Now there’s a bad old word for you.

    One thing that used to terrify me back in the olden days was the stories about how Russia took children from their parents at a young age and indoctrinated them to be minions of the state. I knew it could never happen here . . . and yet, more and more do-gooders are pushing for earlier and earlier enrollment in government schools, along with longer and longer school days and increasingly dismissive attitudes toward parents.

    And here comes this court judgment. Judgment, now there’s a bad old word for ya.

    • klharrds Aug 27, 2010 @ 4:11

      Thanks for reading my post. Holly’s great at spotting these little issues which get the juices flowing isn’t she! Plus I love to get into a debate over anything!

      Prejudice is a strong word. Perhaps I used it incorrectly, perhaps not. It sprang straight into my mind after reading the quote from the article and I was in hurry to get out the door last night and didn’t have time to edit and censor myself past my first reaction. I’ll think on it a bit more throughout the day and get back to you with something more reasoned if time permits.

      Anyway … I’ll give you my first thought reasoning here. See what you think.

      The quote from the article is, “We conclude that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on the subject [of sexuality] to their students in any forum or manner they select” (emphasis added).”

      When I bashed out my response I couldn’t see any other reason why parents might object to this.

      Why should parents want to prevent public schools from providing information on the subject of sexuality unless they are prejudice against the people who make these life choices (or don’t make the choice because there is no other choice for them, but I think that’s another debate!)

      I still can’t think of any reason. But like I said I am not a parent, nor do I think I have all the answers. So there is likely an angle I am missing. Any parents here – let me know why you wouldn’t want your children to be informed about this?

      I take your point on the science facts thing. I personally can’t remember whether the science I got in school was couched as ‘this is fact’ or ‘this is fact as we currently understand it’. I think I understood it to be the later whether it was explicitly stated or merely implied, or neither. We did learn quite a bit of science history along the way which I think aided us to place the things we did learn in context.

      Perhaps one day the things that I currently hold to be science fact will be refuted. Perhaps I’ll change my opinions, perhaps I won’t. I can be stubborn and I’m not a scientist. But I’ll definitely read into the matter and debate it. Probably in places like this! I think that once again we are back to the position that more information is better, providing information is better, letting people make up their own mind once they have that information is better.

      I think parents shouldn’t be able to say ‘I think and believe this, that or the other and no one is allowed to provide any other points of view to my child just in case they end up disagreeing with me.’

      Though I do take Michelle’s point that parents need to give their own views to their children. Parental guidance is very important But they shouldn’t be the only views. Let the kids make up their own minds. I hope we are not raising clones.

      As for the pregnancy thing, someone at my school did get pregnant while I was there. I can safely say that most of us were NOT… tada… chaste. Far from it, my friends and I definitely kicked up our heels and had some fun. But we did know enough about contraception to make that choice safely. It’s a shame some of the people in your school missed out on this.

      The girl who did have the baby has gone on to have about another 85,000 of them. I speak to her mum and she says he likes being pregnant and likes kids. I guess that’s her choice. At least she was given the information to make a different one if she chose.

      Then again perhaps she wasn’t paying attention on that day. Perhaps she was grossed out and couldn’t take it in. I fainted during the discussions on first aid and still don’t know how to put someone in the recovery position. Perhaps it was the same with her. Perhaps after having the first child so young she thought she didn’t have any other life available. No one will know but her. So perhaps neither of us should draw conclusions from such a small smaple as those people we personally know.

      I don’t know anything about cold war Russia, so I can’t comment on the facts as you mention them. Though it sounds like something interesting to get into. From what you’ve said though I would guess that the analogy doesn’t quite match up as you’ve suggested.

      In the Russian scenario it’s the government saying ‘my view and no other’ and in the current court judgment it seems that’s what the parents were saying. So it seems that the American parents are closer to the Russian government and the Russian parents are closer to the American government. Weird eh?

      Anyway, give me your thoughts on the above if you have time I’d like to know where I’m wrong and get into it!

      • Texanne Aug 27, 2010 @ 17:11

        klharrd–
        You have just demonstrated the best possible reason for parents maintaining vigilance over the moral and training of their children. There is nothing for me to add.

        • klharrds Aug 28, 2010 @ 2:31

          That’s a shame because I really would like to understand your point of view and you haven’t been able to put it across to me. Perhaps like I said you have to be a parent to understand what seems to be the proprietary view of the parents in the case cited.

          BTW – I forgot to mention in my last post. What is so terrible about the word ‘Judgement’? I got these from a thesaurus. It seems a perfectly good word to me – nothing bad about it.

          acumen, acuteness, apprehension, astuteness, awareness, brains, capacity, comprehension, discernment, discrimination, experience, genius, grasp, incisiveness, ingenuity, intelligence, intuition, keenness, knowledge, mentality, penetration, perception, percipience, perspicacity, prudence, quickness, range, rationality, reach, readiness, reason, reasoning, sagacity, sanity, sapience, savvy, sense, sharpness, shrewdness, sophistication, soundness, taste, understanding, wisdom, wit

          • Holly Lisle Aug 29, 2010 @ 11:19

            klharrds: You said “Perhaps like I said you have to be a parent to understand what seems to be the proprietary view of the parents in the case cited.”

            Yes. You would.

          • Texanne Aug 29, 2010 @ 20:02

            Judgment, or its secondary spelling, judgement is not a bad word. I was indulging in irony, exactly as I was indulging in irony when I said the same thing about the word chaste.

            I didn’t respond to you because your comments have made clear that your own level of indoctrination will not allow you, at this time, to entertain ideas other than (those you believe to be) your own. It’s not something you can help, but you will probably grow out of it. I say that with all due respect for your obvious intelligence and with affection for your innocence.

            Life is a hard school, but it’s the best we’ve got. No hard feelings, and no offense intended.

        • klharrds Aug 31, 2010 @ 7:12

          Thanks for the reply.

          I like the idea that I might one day grow out of my views and that I am innocent. I doubt my finance would agree! He thinks I’m cynical beyond all reason!

          Made me smile on another wise dull morning at work.

          Thanks for that too.

      • Michelle Aug 27, 2010 @ 20:10

        “Why should parents want to prevent public schools from providing information on the subject of sexuality unless they are prejudice against the people who make these life choices.”

        It’s not about preventing public schools from providing these points of view, it’s about sheltering their own children.

        Here’s the thing. In my opinion, every child is automatically entitled to five things that their parent(s) and/or guardian(s) must provide in order for that child to have any hope of developing into a fully functioning adult. Adequate food, clothing, shelter, love and support. Note that I did not say a child will become a fully functioning adult if provided with these things, only that all four of these needs must be met to give them the best shot. And I include matters of safety, physical or otherwise under support. That’s an issue I’ll get to later.

        Exposure to diverse viewpoints and a variety of choices is not on that list. It is not a prerequisite to growing up a healthy, well adjusted adult. A child with limited choices and viewpoints will do just fine, I know my grandparents did.

        So, what parent would not want their child to attend sex ed classes. Parents who want to have that discussion with their children on their own terms, when they feel the child is old enough. Believe it or not, some actually do. My Mom did. It was the most embarrassing day of my life. But I learned more from her than I did sitting in a classroom with twenty five giggling girls while our Phys Ed teacher demonstrated the proper way to perform a breast exam.

        Some parents may simply feel that this is not something discussed at all. They most likely expect their child to wait until marriage to have sex, at which point they and their chosen partner will explore their sexuality and learn together. Naive today, perhaps, but it wasn’t such a crazy idea a few decades ago

        I have no problem with letting my kids attend sex ed, though I don’t expect them to learn much from it. I will still have the discussion with them myself, starting with the facts of life and building on the discussion as they get older.

        I want my kids to be exposed to diversity and a variety of viewpoints. I don’t neccesarily believe they will find that behind the four walls of a school with a most likely homogenous student body. I will do my best to supplement what they learn in school and provide them with those diverse viewpoints, in what I feel is the healthiest way.

        Other parents want their children to experience this diversity on their terms, and it certainly depends on the subject. Sex ed is one of many. Other cultures, other religions and religious beliefs, certain events in history. It can basically be boiled down to the fact that these parents want their kid to get the “facts” at home first, to make sure they have the knowledge foundation they believe they will need. I put “facts” in quotes for a reason. As long as the kid is being provided those five things on the list above they are not entitled to protection from crack pot theories.

        And there are the parents who do not believe any diversity of viewpoint or choice is a good thing. They believe that a lot of choices and viewpoints are unhealthy, and that limiting a child’s experience is the best way to ensure that they grow up with a good head on their shoulders. Some would certainly call this closed minded, but I’m sure they believe that being too open minded can lead to just as many problems.

        So on to safety. I believe in discussions about parental rights and government intervention safety becomes a bit of a catch all. Phrases like “in the child’s best interest,” are highly open ended and subjective. Who decides what this means? Who decides what is the safest upbringing? It can easily be argued that not providing sexual education, including knowledge of contraceptives to teens in our world today poses a risk to them. Certain people believe that these kids will have sex regardless of what their parents have taught them, and must be prepared. Those parents believe that telling their kids about contraception, and certainly going as far as showing them how to use a condom is like saying “it’s okay for you to have sex.” They don’t believe that at all, and don’t want to give their child even the slightest excuse to think they would.

        So it comes down to beliefs. We all believe something different. Every well meaning parent believes that the decisions they make are in their child’s best interest. Some are clearly misinformed, like the teenage couple who think their three year old can thrive on nothing but oatmeal. They are innocently not providing all of the five points on the list and simply need to be educated.

        Others are following the beliefs they have developed, slightly different from their own parents, but no less valid. Others are following the beliefs they were raised with, beliefs steeped in religion, culture and tradition.

        I do not believe it is the government’s business to intervene in the last two cases. As long as the five basic needs are being met, the rest is up to the parent.

        • Holly Lisle Aug 29, 2010 @ 11:54

          In fact, the government is specifically forbidden to interfere with beliefs. It is the first tenet of the US Bill of Rights.

          “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

          While I detest religion for its universal demand that the believer suspend thinking and judgement in favor of belief in the unprovable and irrational, I will fight to the death to preserve that right—because the right to believe irrational things is also the right to think rational ones.

      • Holly Lisle Aug 28, 2010 @ 12:40

        Klharrds,
        Your argument is based on a variant of “I can’t imagine why…” which is the worst possible argument to use when discussing human rights.

        Let me give you three non-related examples to demonstrate what this argument actually does.

        “I can’t imagine why any woman would object to having her parents pick her husband for her.”

        “I can’t imagine why any woman would want to have a job rather than to stay home and raise children.”

        “I can’t imagine why any woman would want to vote—her husband will vote for both of them.”

        Aren’t you glad someone could imagine why women might want to do those things, and fought for the rights to do them?

        The “I can’t imagine why…” argument is being used to push for a unified mandatory federal curriculum, the purpose of which is to create an entire nation of people who can only see one side—the same side— to any issue. At which point, the people so indoctrinated truly WON’T be able to imagine why anyone would want anything different…they will have lost the ability to imagine something better.

        The limits of your imagination must not be the limits of the rights of others. Neither can the fact that you don’t know why others would want to do these things be the basis for your arguments against anyone being able to do them.

        Human rights are simple. The individual has all rights to determine his own life, including the right to ruin himself or destroy himself if he so chooses. His rights end at the point where his actions impede the rights of others, cause harm to others, or where he attempts to use force or deception to make others do what he wants them to do.

        Parents, who have all responsibility for their children until their children reach majority, have all rights to see to the upbringing of those children as well, with the caveats noted above.

        • klharrds Aug 31, 2010 @ 6:59

          Hi Holly,

          How’s your head? I hope you’re feeling better.

          You said ‘[my] argument is based on a variant of “I can’t imagine why…” which is the worst possible argument to use when discussing human rights.’

          I said I can’t see ‘any other reason why’ when Texanne and I were talking about prejudice.

          I was not saying, I can’t think of a reason and therefore none exists and therefore the right shouldn’t exist. I was saying I think this is the reason, but if anyone else has any other idea I’d love to know what they are. Michelle has been particularly articulate in expressing hers. I was expressing my limited view, and I hoped to convey interest in anyone else’s. I was hoping to debate other people’s views as I had suggested would be good for the children. It seems I was unsuccessful in getting that across.

          Most of the discussion here seems to turn toward sex education and moral values and how different religions or social groups approach these issues. But the quote from the judgement refers to ‘sexuality’ which is not the same thing.

          Michelle says that it’s about parents sheltering their own children. She goes on to say that as long as parents are providing their children with the five items in her list ‘they are not entitled to protection from crack pot theories’. I think I have to disagree with her there. I think in her category of ‘support’ children should be supported to think for themselves, to grow into the person they want to be. Children need to be armed with the tools to judge for themselves whether any theory is crackpot without always looking to their parents, or the school, for the answer. In your posts you suggest that this kind of critical thinking isn’t taught in public schools. I don’t have much personal experience with American school (just 6 months in second grade in what I assume was a public school but I couldn’t tell you for sure) but it’s a real shame for American children if in fact that is the case.

          I think children need information and help learning how to think critically. In relation to the quote from the judgement I think children should know that there are other forms of love and commitment that exist in the world besides the one they see in their home every day.

          Holly – I don’t have any children, and don’t plan to have any either. Still I think it is wrong to claim ownership of another human just because you happened to birth them, no matter the personal cost to the parent.

          You’ve said ‘… by what right do you claim to dictate the manner or content of education another human being receives? ‘

          I think as a society we have a collective responsibility to make sure all children are protected and nurtured, not just the ones we happen to ‘own’ through their birth. I don’t know how this would fit with the rights and responsibilities you hold under the constitution. I have never read it. I dare say just reading the documents wouldn’t enlighten me much further in any case. I don’t think it’s that easy to become a constitutional scholar! I guess I would have to agree with Julian (simply on the basis of logic and not constitutional principles) that a child is entitled to an education and this shouldn’t be curtailed by merely what the parents or the school want to provide.

          You have put forward excellent arguments in your replies with Julian Adorney, Sandra and Ien Nivens in relation to the rights Americans hold under the constitution and how you feel these rights are being infringed by the court in this judgement. The court should be following the law. Still, I don’t think that the constitution should be the final arbitrator of humanity, even if it is the final arbitrator of American law.

          • Holly Lisle Sep 1, 2010 @ 16:17

            My head’s considerably better. Still headaches most days, but not so many migraines.

            I think as a society we have a collective responsibility to make sure all children are protected and nurtured, not just the ones we happen to ‘own’ through their birth. I don’t know how this would fit with the rights and responsibilities you hold under the constitution. I have never read it. I dare say just reading the documents wouldn’t enlighten me much further in any case.

            In order to defend collective responsibility, you have to clearly define who the collective is.

            You don’t want kids. That’s fine. Folks who don’t want them shouldn’t have them.

            But if you are not willing to take on the responsibility of your own children, how can you possibly imagine that you have a right to tell me how to care for mine, or that you could have any relevant knowledge in what would be best for them?

            If you do not personally know my kids, how will you exercise this responsibility you have claimed? If you have never seen my kids, talked to my kids, helped my kids with their homework, bought them shoes, put a roof over their heads, pulled them out of the hell they were in, how will you know what they need?

            If you are claiming collective responsibility, then you name yourself part of the collective, and you assume the responsibility. Because if not you, then who?

            Collectivism is the state of existence where everyone denies personal responsibility (someone else will do it) while everyone demands rights to everything everyone else has. Their tax dollars. Their work. Their children’s lives.

            Pleading ignorance does not help your case. Yet you’ve used your ignorance TWICE as your means of supporting your argument.

            The first time you stated that you didn’t know anything about a situation in Russia another poster mentioned, and then USED your incorrect assumption to try to tell the poster that she was wrong in her Russian analogy. Here’s what you said:

            I don’t know anything about cold war Russia, so I can’t comment on the facts as you mention them. Though it sounds like something interesting to get into. From what you’ve said though I would guess that the analogy doesn’t quite match up as you’ve suggested.

            In the Russian scenario it’s the government saying ‘my view and no other’ and in the current court judgment it seems that’s what the parents were saying. So it seems that the American parents are closer to the Russian government and the Russian parents are closer to the American government. Weird eh?

            You were desperately wrong in that instance, but I had other posts to respond to, so let it slide.

            THIS time, you state your right to be ignorant of the contents of the US Constitution (and this certainly is your right), but at the same time try you try to claim that your solution is a better solution than what the Constitution offers.

            You can’t have it both ways. If you don’t know how something works, you cannot argue either for or against how it works in stating your case.

            Finally you said:

            Still, I don’t think that the constitution should be the final arbitrator of humanity, even if it is the final arbitrator of American law.

            And here we agree. Americans have our Constitution, and need to preserve it and fight for our rights within our Republic. We have no need to constantly be trying to help the rest of the world. Frankly, I think we as a people would be much better off if we stopped giving money to the UN and going to places where there were disasters and trying to save everyone.

            Certainly Europe would have been much better off had it been overrun by the Nazis, and all those people who survived Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz because of the Americans who went to fight and die on foreign soil couldn’t have objected too much to being gassed and cooked in ovens.

            Think how much better off we Americans and the rest of the world would be if we only helped ourselves. [And if you don’t hear the sarcasm in my voice as I say this, you need to try harder.]

            However, I will say that I do wish people who have no interest in preserving their rights in their own countries would stop telling Americans how we should be willing to sacrifice our rights in ours.

          • Michelle Sep 1, 2010 @ 17:02

            “She goes on to say that as long as parents are providing their children with the five items in her list ‘they are not entitled to protection from crack pot theories’.”

            I must defend my belief in the right to expose children to crack pot theories.

            What I consider crack pot theories are pretty much everywhere, born from culture, religion and common practice. My boyfriend’s mother was born and raised in Columbia. She believes in a lot of things that any children he and I have will certainly be exposed, including the use of urine as an effective treatment for bug stings. Would it be a major issue if she were told that what she does is harmful, no. I imagine her feelings would be greatly hurt, but she would get over it. I don’t see where the kids would be that much better off, but it’s benign really.

            So here’s were the realm of denying crack pot theories goes from benign to dangerous. Religion and really any manner of spiritual belief could be considered a crack pot theory. Let’s face, a lot of them really are just an idea someone came up with, whether it was fifty years ago, a hundred years or two thousand. So what happens when enough kids sick of being dragged to church by their parents, instigate the courts to declare that children deserve to be free from an overt religious upbringing. Saving them, essentially, from crack pot theories. Freedom of religion still exist, they would argue, for adults. Children will be protected from any adherence to such strong beliefs, meaning no attending religious services, no religious themed welcoming ceremonies, no family prayers around the dinner table, no holidays celebrated with an overtly religious intent. No expressions of spirituality whatsoever that might be interpreted as forcing your views onto your children.

            Not a big deal to some, but certainly painful for many others. And certainly an erosion of religious freedom, when you are no longer free to raise your children in the religion you choose to practice. I’m not crazy about religion, I’ve seen the bad it does, on a large and small scale. But most who practice religion are decent people, with deeply felt beliefs that they want to share with their children. Why shouldn’t they have that right?

  • Me Aug 26, 2010 @ 21:19

    Yea! Dialogue! And thank you to Jeff, Polarbear and Jonathan Horton.

  • klharrds Aug 26, 2010 @ 10:41

    First off, let me say, I don’t live in the US and I don’t have any kids, so I not really involved with this issue.
    However, saying that I think I have to agree with the court. On principle I don’t think that parents should be able to dictate what their children should learn on important issues. This seems to be a recipe for passing on parental prejudice.
    I would think that when parents consider their position on any issue to be the right one, they would believe that even if their child is given other viewpoints the child would also come to the same conclusion. They would trust in themselves and in their child.
    Trying to hide information seems to suggest that the parents know their views are wrong and cannot withstand scrutiny or that their child cannot be trusted to reach conclusions for themselves. Neither is a particularly appealing thought.
    I remember one girl in my A level biology class many years ago, demanding that she be allowed to sit out lessons on evolution because she knew it wasn’t true. The bible said so. I doubt her views on this issue sprang forth from her genetics or any inherent part of her psyche.
    No, I think this attitude would have been passed on to her from those around her, more than likely her parents, family and I dare say her church.
    By the looks of the few quotes included from the judgement the Court wants to avoid this kind of stagnant information. The quotes seem to imply that the courts think children should be given more access information on issues instead of parents being allowed to shut them off from it. I agree with that.
    Perhaps if the girl in my biology class had been given good scientific information at school before she was 16 her views might not have been so fixed and she might not have failed that section of the course so badly.
    Then again maybe she would have continued to hold her beliefs just as strongly and be more comfortable with them if they were based on her own sound judgement. She might have been able to hold her nose and give the answers to pass the course without feeling her faith was attacked by this. I think that would have been a greater victory for her parents and her church.
    So that’s my two penny’s worth. As I mentioned above, I don’t have kids so I’m kinda detached from this. I’d be interested to know what scares parents so much about this sort of thing. Surely, you must have some trust in your children’s teachers to handle sensitive matters in an even handed and age appropriate manner?

    • Michelle Aug 26, 2010 @ 15:26

      I’m not a parent but I am a teacher, and I’ll be honest, if I did have a school age kid, I would trust his teacher about as much as any complete stranger. Which is why, if and when I chose to place my future children in public school, I will do my best to get to know their teacher, and her curriculum. I will go out of my way to keep up to date on what my child is learning, and how it is being taught to him, so that I can further and supplement his education when he’s not in school.

      Speaking as a teacher, I know that among some of my colleagues this makes me the “nightmare mom.” I found, at least in my own area, that when teachers say they want more involved parents, they mean parents who will chaperone field trips or hound thier kids to finish their homework and study more. They don’t want parents who will question the curriculum, or assignments. A parent who speaks up because they feel their child is not being engaged in learning, or because they don’t agree with a particular assignment, is an annoyance.

      This is going to start sounding like full on conspiracy theory now, but it is how I feel. American schools are about indoctrination. From the bells and divided subjects, to the highly limited textbooks. It’s not about teaching kids to think critically or ask questions. It’s about teaching them to sit still, listen and regurgitate. The nail that sticks up still gets hammered down, for all my college professors insisted that schools today are progressive and engaging environments.

      That’s my rant.

      • PolarBear Aug 26, 2010 @ 15:45

        Michelle,
        What you’ve said is why parents need to be involved in schools — not necessarily to try to bring the school to their way of thinking (because as someone mentioned above, most curricula is state-mandated in public schools) but to engage their children in critical thinking about what they are being presented with in schools. If parents deem the material presented inadequate, they can supplement it with additional work.

        Frankly, many parents won’t have time to do this, but from what I understand, with the administrivia loaded onto teachers in some classrooms, it can be a challenge for them to do teaching some days.

        • Michelle Aug 26, 2010 @ 17:11

          “from what I understand, with the administrivia loaded onto teachers in some classrooms, it can be a challenge for them to do teaching some days.”

          Believe me, it is. Which is why many teachers see involved parents as an added burden, someone else to please on top of department heads and admin, all while tending to somewhere around 100 students, which is actually a pretty good number. Most seconday level teachers in my school district have 150.

          The reason this article scares me is because schools and government are simply taking on too much. When Jane’s Mom is lamenting the fact that the school insists Jane attend Sex Ed or say the pledge of the allegiance, Jane gets the message that Mom’s beliefs are not as important as the school. No equal footing here, no sharing different sides. The school’s agenda will the be the only agenda.

          The government requires that children attending public school be enrolled earlier each year, so that less and less time is spent at home. Systematically removing a parent’s right to instill their own beliefs and to discipline how they see fit. And I don’t mean spanking. Discipline, as I see it, is a much broader subject, encompassing nuturing, guidance, role-modeling and punishment.

          Call me crazy, but when I have kids I want to raise them myself. I will certainly expose them to different lifestyles, different viewpoints and as much knowledge of the world as I can, but I’m not wishy washy. I want my future kids to understand that there are certain beliefs I and my boyfriend hold that are nonnegotiable (yes, we’ve discussed it.) and that there are certain beliefs that in our opinion, are not valid. These are things they will not, cannot learn in schools today. The fact that extra credit in real life is rare, and not something you can expect to ask for and get. The fact that you do not deserve a grade of fifty for not doing any work at all. The fact that in real life the “game” is scored, sometimes you’ll win and sometimes you’ll lose, and you need to learn to deal with both graciously. Schools today are leading students to the opposite belief, in an effort to avoid hurt feelings and keep everyone content. Not happy, content. There’s a big difference. Being happy is a right, being content is a cop-out.

          I feel like I’ve strayed from the topic, so I’m going to stop now.

          • PolarBear Aug 26, 2010 @ 18:29

            All valid points I agree wholeheartedly with.

            Except maybe with your statement that being happy is a right. Constitutionally speaking, the right to pursue happiness is the right.

            (And, I’m afraid my initial post strayed far from the intended topic — sorry, Holly.)

    • Debi Oct 15, 2010 @ 10:03

      “On principle I don’t think that parents should be able to dictate what their children should learn on important issues.”

      As a parent of 4 children, I think you pretty much made my point for me. I don’t know what country you live in, but if/when you decide to have children, you might want to have a decent amount of input in their lives and the issues that affect them – especially the important ones.

  • Me Aug 25, 2010 @ 17:50

    And these two posts would be why this too-broad legislature was created–the classroom has become a battleground instead of a place of learning– so the trolls get to come out and play (yeah, I know that was offensive, but really? An argument in two posts? Sheesh!).

    I can’t say that I would sign this (I’ve read the parentalrights.org website and they are only presenting one side of the argument), and I can’t say I wouldn’t. I’ve seen both sides. There are parents who come into a classroom and dictate not only to the teacher, but also, all the staff and principal on all aspects of their child’s education. There’s never just one parent either, and each expects to run the public system as if they were private educators. But the other side is horrible legislation like this, which throws the entire class into a bucket with no repect for anything. It become a bland, ineffective blanket to assert a point of control.

    I suspect that solution involves a lot of dialogue and compromise. I’d be interested to see the entire timeline of events involving this case and how that was handled before it came to legalities on both sides.

    • Jeff Aug 25, 2010 @ 22:05

      I wouldn’t consider a misunderstanding an argument, but then I wouldn’t consider your comment offensive either… unless you’re saying I “look” like a troll.
      Holly has whole articles here about thick skin, I guess I need a few more layers. 🙂

    • Jonathan Horton Aug 26, 2010 @ 13:18

      I am the National Grassroots Director at ParentalRights.org. The Amendment won’t give parents the ability to completely control the curriculum (obviously you can’t satisfy everyone, and to try would be to create chaos that would prevent any education from occurring). But when the curriculum or school activities leave the realm of the academic and move into moral, ethical, or religious topics, parents should have the ability to opt out, and the Parental Rights Amendment is intended to protect that ability (among many other things). If you’re a liberal parent in a conservative state, you should have the opt-out power if your child’s school holds an assembly and has a conservative speak on the topic of abortion, marriage, or origins. By the same token, a conservative parent in a liberal state should have the opt-out power when teachers show R-rated movies in class or use graphic or sexually explicit materials that they find offensive. When parents lack the opt-out power, their children are held hostage to the agenda of the majority in their state.

      • Holly Lisle Aug 27, 2010 @ 10:36

        Thank you for dropping by, Jonathan. I posted this on my site because, according to the law of this land, rights derive from the individual. The individual may choose to give some rights to the state or federal government, but any rights we have not chosen to give, we retain.

        The rights of the individual have always been a battleground in this country, but the battle gets worse when the courts decide that rights the government has not been expressly given by individuals in individual vote do not belong to the individual, but rather to some vague, undefined group that has NEVER been expressly given these rights.

        Schools, whether public or private, have no responsibility to guarantee any results with the children they teach. They have no responsibility to ensure that children within their care can read, write, or think by the time they graduate. Schools do not have, and expressly reject, the responsibility of ensuring that children go out into the world capable of providing for themselves or living good, happy lives.

        Where there are no responsibilities, THERE CAN BE NO RIGHTS.

        The court was wrong for exactly these to reasons:

        • Rights derive from the individual, and individuals have not ceded parental rights to any government body by vote.
        • Only those entities that have responsibility can also have rights. The two are sides of a single inseparable coin.
  • Jeff Aug 25, 2010 @ 16:56

    I understand a parent’s want(need) to have a measure of control over what it is their child is taught and I do believe that health and sex education should be treated as “Elective” Classes; but I think it is absolutely ridiculous when people instantly associate Homosexuality with Pedophilia and Bestiality (especially considering that over 80% of pedophiles are Heterosexual Men.)

    Also PolarBear, it was YOU who brought up subjecting children to sexual activity and pedophilia, not the court case.

    • PolarBear Aug 25, 2010 @ 19:05

      It was a joke, Jeff. And extreme stretching of where things could go with that kind of court ruling. After seeing a CNN report last year about kids having sex on dance floors at school dances that were supposedly chaperoned, I’m sad to say I wouldn’t be too surprised if they eventually got around to doing something like this — but it would certainly be a sad day.

      I make no association of homosexuality and pedophilia. I don’t happen to believe they are remotely related. It was laundry list of some people’s sexual preferences.

      • Jeff Aug 25, 2010 @ 21:51

        I’m glad to hear it. I may be a little sensitive to the issue, but I have already had to leave several online writer communities because of harassment that was frighteningly similar to your comment. I feel a little ashamed to admit that I have become somewhat jaded and unable to see the sarcasm, but the last group I had been a part of (name withheld) I actually received death threats because I dared to have a gay character or admit to being gay myself. I don’t know if you can understand how disheartening and depressing and horrifying it is to be considered a monster over something as arbitrary and involuntary as sexual orientation.
        I am sorry I mistook your joke and I apologize for my snide remark.

        [ I remember that CCN Report… they should have filmed at my High School. Our Security Officer, a Lt. from the city’s Police Department, had impregnated three high-school girls and his fiance within months of each other and that was back in 1998. I can only imagine what has happened since.]

        • PolarBear Aug 25, 2010 @ 22:19

          I suspected I’d hit a hot button, and I apologize for not making the sarcasm more clear. I thought the way I’d worded it that hetero, homo, and bi fit into, if not traditional, then normal lifestyles, and called the more wide-ranging ones alternate.

          It’s tough to know what should or shouldn’t be taught about sexuality in school. I’m not sure incorporating it into the curriculum in elementary school is the right time, but some kids have long been entering into sexual relationships as early as ten, and some have been abused long before that.

          Leaving it up to the parents at home almost ensures the most kids will not get the information they need.

          Public schools have a no win situation. On one hand too few parents become involved. On the other hand, too many parents believe they have the only right answer.

          From my personal experience, the girls got the menstruation video in third or fourth grade while the boys watched some other video — I have no idea what it was about. Then I got nothing in school until 9th grade health class (which I took in the 10th grade, because I moved from Iowa to Ohio — I’m not sure Iowa covered anything about sex in school) and 10th grade college prep biology. My mom told me “the facts of life” when I was around nine because something came up that required it. We had a girl in my 7th or 8th grade class turn up pregnant, so sometime before then would have been appropriate. For that, I’m talking heterosexual biological functions. Nobody, to my knowledge addressed any other type of sexuality. Clearly, some of my classmates were gay (because I know they are today, but I didn’t know it then). I never gave it any thought, although I was hounded mercilessly in junior high because some people thought I was.

          Unfortunately, all this emphasis on ensuring we teach sexuality seems to have come at the expense of more traditional subjects of spelling, reading, writing, math, government, and history. Nothing made that more clear to me than the July 4th edition of Jay Leno’s Jaywalking where they had to go three generations back to get anyone with a clue about the most basic questions of our country’s founding principles.

          The idea of death threats for sexual orientation saddens me. That otherwise rational people are rabidly irrational about that particular subject is wrong in so very many ways. What consenting adults do with other consenting adults in the privacy of their homes is their business. Public behavior, no matter your orientation, should be somewhat more reserved. I think it’s particularly inappropriate that anyone should threaten you in a writing community for either your orientation or that of a character.

    • Jane Sep 18, 2010 @ 17:14

      “especially considering that over 80% of pedophiles are Heterosexual Men”

      Completely incorrect! Sexual abuse of children is actually more common among women. Women also are more prone to groom children for male serial paedophiles.

      Please actually get your facts straight before speaking. You have a misinformed mindset that unfortunately most of the country has. Ever notice when a Woman commits USI (unlawful sexual intercourse), its an innocent love affair. When a man does it, he’s an evil paedophile.

      Come and sit with me the next time Im at a school protection meeting. You will find when compared to a female to male ratio of teachers, over 75% of child abuse in school is done by women. Male teachers in some situations are more prone to physical abuse such as clipping children around the ear, but over 90% of physcological damage such as extreme bullying is commited by female staff in schools.

      To think that men are the only ones with carnal desires is wrong, women have them as well, yet women tend to conceal crimes better.

      People like you with misinformed ideas derived from the media instead of statistics and training really are worrying ..

  • PolarBear Aug 25, 2010 @ 13:50

    “We conclude that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on the subject [of sexuality] to their students in any forum or manner they select” (emphasis added).”

    So that required sexuality lab soon to be required of all tenth graders — as the natural follow on to the classroom portion of the “health” course provided in ninth grade would be a “go” in this scenario.

    Excerpt from the proposed course description:

    Each grading period , the course will provide focus on a different sexual lifestyle in the performance, hands-on course. We start with the traditional heterosexual, followed by the homosexual, then we go to bisexual, and, we conclude the year with alternate lifestyles — bestiality, groups, etc. The year concludes with the capstone event where the classroom instructor demonstrates various aspects of pedophilia with select class members. Certified pedophiles will be used in all classes to ensure your child is taught by only the best available instruction staff.

    • Tracy Riva Aug 30, 2010 @ 13:05

      I can’t believe the US government would make such a ruling. I feel as though by including these people, especially the pedophiles, we risk doing untold damage to our children and since when, and why are bestiality an accepted part of any lifestyle, not a valid life choice.

      I’m not opposed to the teaching of gay lifestyles, but I feel the parents should have the right to absent their children during this section of the class if they find it sexually or morally objectionable.

      Parents are the ultimate decision makers in what their children should learn and be exposed to, to remove this right is is to remove a bsic cornerstone of the American family.

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