08 Sep Schools Days: What are your children being taught?
September 8, 2011
School Days: What are your children being taught?
You carefully monitor the television shows your children watch. Your internet has the best filters and is in a public place in your home. You restrict the movies your children view and you are vigilant about the types of reading material they bring into the home. You feel you’ve covered all of the bases. But, have you considered your children’s textbooks?
Ever heard of California’s Senate Bill 48 (SB 48)? Gov. Jerry Brown signed it into law in July. This bill, along with seven others, has set up a situation that most traditional families will find intolerable. In fact, some of the pro-family advocacy groups in California are strongly suggesting that perhaps it is time for California parents to remove their children from the public schools.
What’s going on in California and why should it matter to me?
California SB 48 is the first law in the United States requiring public schools to include prominent gay people and gay rights’ milestones in school textbooks and curriculum. Textbooks and instructional materials are required to positively promote “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans” as “role” models. Educators will be required to positively portray homosexuality, same-sex marriage, bisexuality, and transgender issues, because to be silent can bring the charge of “reflecting adversely” or “promoting a discriminatory bias.”
As well, count on a heavy emphasis on teaching children to engage in and support political activism of “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex and Questioning” (LGBTIQ) advocacy groups. And here’s the last kick in the stomach to families: California parents will not be notified, nor will they be able to exempt their children, from this new core curriculum.
If you live in California, you are most likely exploring your options. If you don’t live in California, your heart must certainly go out to these parents and their children and you feel some sense of relief that you are not dealing with their issues. But is that the case? Does what is going on in California have any impact on you? The answer is: “It very well could.”
The textbooks for most of the U.S. are written and developed by the publishing companies to address the needs and requirements of three heavily populated states: California, Texas, and Florida. These same textbooks are often purchased for use in other countries as well.
We wrote to you a year ago how the Texas State Board of Education had adopted new, very pro-family and conservative guidelines into their education requirements. You now know what California’s new requirements are and Florida’s requirements fall somewhere in the middle. The question is: From which of the publishers will your school district eventually purchase their textbooks? – The ones written to meet the “requirements” of Texas, Florida or California?
You as a parent will not know the answer to this critical question unless you are actively monitoring what textbooks your school district or school is purchasing!
So what can you do?
If you live in California, you need to join in the effort to repeal SB 48. There is a need to place the referendum on the ballot by collecting 750,000 signatures before the end of September. (The legal requirement is a minimum of 504,760 valid signatures by Oct. 12.) The opposition is claiming that it can’t be done, but we know otherwise!
Visit StopSB48.com and see where you can sign the petition and then get involved. There is also a video there describing the seriousness of the problem.
We have recommended for years that parents actively monitor their children’s textbooks. The reality is, the best way to stop this kind of problem is to catch them before – not after – the school spends thousands of dollars purchasing the textbooks.
1. Contact your school or school district today and ask for the schedule and the procedure by which textbooks are selected and purchased. Each school district has a curriculum director and often a curriculum committee.
2. Ask to be placed on a parent textbook and curriculum review board. If your engagement is not welcomed, be persistent. Politely ask that parents be involved in the selection of the textbooks and volunteer to help them engage other parents. Stay on top of it; keep contacting school administrators.
3. Work with other like-minded parents. Have them make the same phone calls to the school or school district. Insist upon parental involvement in the process. These are your schools; get on those textbook review committees.
4. Divide the workload. In order to cover all the possible textbooks for all the topics for all the grades, you’re going to need some help. Engage other parents. Engage grandparents. Then become an expert in one particular subject matter and continue to follow it through the textbook selection “seasons.” This is not something that you will be doing just once; on-going vigilance will be required.
5. Graciously, but assertively, put forth your recommendations on the texts that are being considered. Always remember that the easiest way to protect your children is to stop inappropriate texts and educational materials before they end up being purchased and placed in the classroom.
In so many ways your schools will benefit from your involvement! This is a very positive and pro-active way to be involved.
Let United Families International help you help others
Let us know when you find textbooks that are inappropriate and let us also know the good textbooks and their publishers. Send your textbook information to firstname.lastname@example.org
We will be maintaining a database of this information and as the list grows, we will provide that information to parents as well as post it on our website. It’s a great way to assist each other in this effort. We’re going to call it the “Curriculum Clean-up Project.” Feel free to contact us with your questions.
There are some dangerous legal precedents afoot
Many parents may feel this level of parental involvement is unnecessary, that there are state laws that protect their children from the type of over-reach and indoctrination brought to bear on California students. There are many parents who will rely on the opt-in or opt-out process to protect their children. Please be advised that the courts have not sided with parents on these issues.
In 2005, the U.S. Ninth Circuit declared in Fields v. Palmdale that “[parents…have no constitutional right…to prevent public schools from providing its students with whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise, when and as the school determines that it is appropriate to do so.”
Then they concluded: “In sum, we affirm that the Meyer-Pierce [fundamental parental] right does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door.”
This type of thing is happening in other areas of the country as well. In 2007, the U.S. District Court for Massachusetts decided the same thing in Parker v. Hurley: parents have no right to opt their children out of a public school course.
Since the year 2000, there have been no U.S. Circuit or District Court decisions that have concluded otherwise. These legal precedents call into question all current laws in states that require a parental opt-in or opt-out for controversial school instruction. This makes it all the more important to take the steps necessary to keep those questionable textbooks out of your child’s school in the first place.
Although California’s budget problems have led them to state that SB 48 will not be fully implemented until 2015, rest assured that publishers are developing and writing the new curriculums as we speak. The time to get on the textbook review committee is now.
The time to start closely monitoring your children’s textbooks is now. Don’t rely on your student’s opinion of the appropriateness of the textbooks they are already using. Read them for yourself.
The start of a new school year is an exciting time. There is much to be commended about the dedicated teachers and staff who devote their lives to educating our children. When parents are involved in selecting the materials used in the educational process it is a win, win situation for all concerned. In so doing, you can keep your family’s values and morals from being usurped by someone else’s agenda. Please – get involved.
President, United Families International