This year Republicans and their allies are running for school boards on the platform of “Parental Rights.” It sounds like a well-intentioned slogan but only because it hasn’t been clearly defined for voters.
These far-right groups have been running coordinated campaigns to overtake our local school boards for three years. Under the guise of “parental rights”, these groups purposely disrupt meetings, and they intentionally intimidate and harass teachers, librarians, school officials, and other parents.
Their “Parent’s Rights” campaign reminds me of the historical State’s rights doctrine. It’s a convenient and catchy slogan to cover for their extreme policies. I believe strongly in parental rights and so do the candidates we support. I am a parent of two boys and when a small minority want to remove books from the library that I want my boys to have access to, I keep asking, “Where are my parental rights?”
I want to hear more about our parental freedom!
Freedom to send our kids to school in an America that doesn’t ban books. Eleven people were responsible for 60% of all book challenges in 2021 and 2022. Should a very small minority of people be able to affect our freedom to parent?
Let’s discuss Parental Freedom; freedom to send our children to schools staffed with highly qualified teachers. Since the inception of the “parental rights” campaign, we are seeing extreme teacher shortages across the nation. States like Florida have been forced to lower credential standards and qualifications just to staff their public schools.
Where is the Parental Freedom to know our children are taught real, accurate history? The freedom to know our kids are learning about the Trail of Tears, slavery, and important figures like Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Anne Frank. They want to whitewash our history because their children may feel uncomfortable? I want the freedom as a parent to allow my children to feel the discomfort that comes with learning true American history, even when it is difficult. I want the freedom to allow my children to feel uncomfortable when they learn that some of our greatest human atrocities have occurred in recent history. Facing these difficult truths allows for us to feel empathy, compassion, and yes, even guilt. It allows us to feel collectively responsible so we don’t allow these things to happen again. This is not about blaming or shaming our children. This is about my parental freedom to allow my children to know that discomfort, and teach them how to use it to ensure a better future.
Parental Freedom to not be harassed and called names like groomer for supporting the first amendment and oppose book banning. And we want parental freedom for our teachers and librarians not to be called groomers. Not only is it dangerous and abhorrent but it also relates directly to our parental freedoms to have qualified teachers by not scaring our best and brightest away from teaching or being a librarian in public schools.
Parental freedom to know my children are safe at school but also that they feel safe at school. I want to know that my Parental Freedoms include a school that takes bullying seriously. I want to know that when bullying does happen, the school will provide the appropriate space for resolution, as well as mental health services if it is deemed necessary. How many of these new “Parental Rights” school board majorities have declined to enforce the disciplinary actions recommended by their own school Administrators? What is this bizarre ideological policy they have been taught by moms for liberty?
We recently moved back to my home town of Oakland, NJ where I previously served as a republican on the council. The town we moved back to is very different from the town we left in 2006. The same is true for the school district. Oakland is part of the Ramapo Indian Hills School district known as the FLOW towns (Franklin Lakes, Oakland, Wyckoff). Recently the Board voted to discontinue mental health services for students. This was the work of the new Majority elected on the “Parent’s rights” platform.
Demonstrating the power of the public and their support of mental health services this action was soon reversed but their true colors were revealed. They did not come up with this idea themselves, they got the idea from the groups that helped them get elected. This was taken directly from Mom’s for Liberty playbook..
Recent Moms for Liberty Twitter (or now X) account https://www.reddit.com/media?url=https%3A%2F%2Fi.redd.it%2Fmoms-for-liberty-forgot-denying-health-care-is-child-abuse-v0-69vldaoxv8eb1.jpg%3Fs%3D38172c0c6612fdeaf48bf20ee98059d60c493bd7
“Mental health care is health care Mr. President
That’s why it has NO place in public schools.” #ParentalRights
Notice the hashtag #ParentalRights: Somehow policies to deprive our students that are struggling mentally they consider “Parental Rights”. Ask the many NJ parents that are grieving from the loss of their child to suicide if they believe in this version of “Parental Rights”. Or would they have preferred parental freedom to send their child to a school that supports all the students when they have mental challenges.
Every year approximately 7,126 young people age 10-24 die by suicide annually. To offer some perspective, according to Forbes, the average US high school has 850 students. This means that our nation is losing over 8 entire high schools of children to suicide annually.
This is the same district that lost their superintendent and business administrator in the same year since the new “Parental Rights” majority has taken over. Like many other districts that have new “Parental Rights” majorities, disciplinary actions requested by the professional principal’s and superintendents were not enforced by the board. Why? Was it an ideological belief that our schools were better when bullying ran rampant with no consequences?
So far in NJ Parental Rights campaign’s have been organized and funded by groups like Moms for Liberty (Southern Poverty Law Center labels a hate group). NJ Republicans don’t even hide their coordination with this hate group. On Thursday August 17th The Bergen County Republican hosted a Mom’s for Liberty Chapter meeting. Kind of reminds me of the states rights groups in the south in the 60’s hosting chapter meetings with (I’ll let you fill in the blank with what you are thinking).
Bottom line is our state is being inundated with groups like Moms for Liberty from Florida creating a circus environment on our school boards. They share ideology with NJ groups like NJ rise, Jersey fresh and other names that keep popping up. But their values are the same and they make no secret about preferring policies similar to Florida public Schools to those here in NJ. Which model would you prefer? Take a look at national state rankings.
Education Truth Project was created to protect our public schools from extremists that seek to destroy it. And here is NJ, a coalition of outsiders working with NJ groups are working to destroy our valued public schools with the goal to privatize them or make them more like Florida Schools.
These groups have created a circus atmosphere on school board’s across our state pinning neighbor against neighbor. Residents screaming and harassing teachers and board members is now the norm. Education Truth Project wants to help elect board members that are there for our students and not to carry out a social agenda. Our School board meetings should be boring again and focusing on our students progress and not debating national social issues.
We implore our allies running for State Legislature and School Board to not avoid the issue of Parental Rights but expose their interpretation and Champion a true Parental Freedom movement that is not hateful, divisive, and most importantly protects our excellent school districts and its students.