August 2, 2023

Steve Nelson: Real Parental Rights

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Steve Nelson is ready to push back against the movement for “parental rights.”

As is true in many aspects of current American politics, the right wing conservatives dominate the discourse on education. As is also true in other aspects of current American politics, it seems not to matter that they are wrong – terribly wrong – and are gradually unraveling the critically important institution of public education.

The assault is on two broad fronts:

  • The persistent efforts to privatize education through charter and voucher schemes, accompanied by defunding traditional public schools and diverting support to all manner of incompetent opportunists.
  • An overlapping campaign to bring more Christianity into publicly-funded education and remove any and all references to race, gender, sexuality and normal functions of the human body.

In service of these goals they have successfully captured the PR realm, with groups like the attractively named Moms for Liberty.  Who wouldn’t love moms or liberty?

He has a proposal. How about these rights for students and parents?

Bill of Educational Rights

The undersigned insist that our school(s) and all teachers:

  • Recognize the broad consensus that early childhood education should be primarily dedicated to free, imaginative play.
  • Provide arts programming, recognizing that the arts are critical to all learning and to understanding the human experience.
  • Provide ample physical movement, both in physical education classes and in other ways, recognizing that exercise enhances learning for all children.
  • Exhibit, in structure and practice, awareness that children develop at different rates and in different ways; that strict age- or grade-level standards and expectations are meaningless or damaging.
  • Acknowledge the large body of evidence that long hours of homework are unnecessary and detract from children’s (and families’) quality of life.
  • Exhibit genuine affection and respect for all children.
  • Honor a wide range of personalities and temperaments.
  • Encourage curiosity, risk-taking and creativity.
  • Cultivate and sustain intrinsic motivation rather than relying on elaborate extrinsic systems of rewards and punishment. Eliminate letter grades and abolish all iterations of testing, all of which are just elaborate money-making schemes.
  • Understand that brain research supports active learning, engaging all the senses.
  • Understand that children are intelligent in multiple ways and that all these intelligences should be honored and developed.
  • Listen to each child’s voice, give her real experience in democratic processes, and allow her to express her individuality.
  • Know each child well, appreciate the unique mix of qualities each child brings, and never demean, discourage or humiliate any child.

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