With the school year getting underway, the law firm of Mauck & Baker has prepared a list of opportunities and rights to inform parents how to help reinforce the values taught in their homes in the public schools.
The news has reported irresponsible behavior by public school educators such as the Montana school district which required fifth and sixth grade students to participate in a psychological study where they were shown drawings of male and female genitalia and asked to circle the ones which most closely resembled their own genitalia. In Illinois, children were stopped from celebrating their particular religious holiday during the month of December."
According to John Mauck, a partner at Mauck & Baker, these ten simple preventative measures can prevent legal clashes between parents and administrators:
Participate in school committees. Parents have strategic opportunities to serve as "gatekeepers" to reform or enrich curricula in family supportive ways.
Find out what will be taught to your child before it is taught. Be vigilant about movies in class, since some districts allow vulgar, even R-rated films to be shown in class without parental notification.
Insist that faith expression be respected in homework assignments. Students can use many types of assignments to discuss their faith, for example, writing a book report from the Bible, Torah or Koran.
Work with — not against — educators. Developing a relationship with your child's teacher will make it easier for your concerns to be heard.
Encourage involvement in extra-curricular clubs. Student groups centered on faith, race, or other particular interests can make a tremendous difference in a student's maturation and school experience and can be more openly expressed in that context.
Teach about sex at home. Ask for copies of all sex-education materials and assignments. Object if you feel they are offensive or undermine values taught at home. Help your child understand how differing views of sexuality derive from the divergent social and spiritual ideas about the value of a human being.
Examine teachings on homosexuality carefully. Make sure students at age appropriate levels are allowed to fully and fairly consider all view points and explain your views to your child particularly if the public school presentation is unbalanced.
Review textbooks and assignments. For example, if you feel they omit or distort important aspects of American history or give an unbalanced view of life through assigned reading, raise questions.
Never tolerate discrimination. Ask your child what occurs in class. Not only racial discrimination but discrimination based upon faith, disability, gender, obesity or income should not be permitted in the classroom or curriculum.
Know where to get help. Talk to the principal if you think your child's teacher is distorting values you wish your child to have. If the principal is unresponsive contact members of the school board with your concerns. If you need further help contact the Illinois Family Institute, the Family Research Council or a private Attorney.
"Both parents and teachers are often confused about the boundaries between home values and school curriculum. In order to help our children achieve their potential, parents and teachers must first understand that parents have the primary privilege and ultimate responsibility for the moral and spiritual instruction of the child," said John Mauck, a partner at Mauck & Baker.