Who Decides What to Teach the Children?

While the Texas State Board of Education is getting a lot of attention from the media and Fox News about its deliberations regarding what will and will not be in upcoming textbooks, there has been some focus on home schooling textbooks recently by CNBC. The connection is similar in that the liberals in the media and academia are outraged that conservatives would want to allow children to learn that the theory of evolution has any weaknesses at all. Glen Beck is bashed, not all that unusual, by the media for saying that the left is trying to indoctrinate public school children and that parents should remove their children from the public schools in order to save the Republic.

This is really nothing new. When my wife and I decided to teach our children at home more than 25 years ago, one of our main concerns was that we did not want our children indoctrinated with the liberal, leftest dogma that passes for education in many public school classrooms. What we liked about home schooling is that we got to decide what our children would be taught, and frankly, we thought – and still do – that this was our right as parents.

In fact, more than ten years ago I was asked to speak to the Austin chapter of the ACLU about home schooling, and one of the comments was, “If we let parents teach anything they want to teach, some of them will be teaching that the world is flat.” My response was, so you want the government to control the content of all the textbooks of private schools? Well, no they did not support that.

One of the great things about Texas is that we have a tradition of allowing private schools to be autonomous in deciding what to teach and who gets to teach. This tradition followed through to home schools when Texas Courts overruled the Texas Education Agency in the 1980s, recognizing that home schools were private schools. At that time, the Texas Attorney General stated that the state had the right to control the curriculum of home schools. He was wrong. Now we hear all this whining by the liberals because many Christian home schoolers are teaching their children creationism instead of Darwinism. This sounds a lot like the debate over man-made global warming.

There will always be debates over what is taught in our public schools, and that is why we ought to have elected members of the State Board of Education – so the public can express its view on what it wants taught. In home schools, parents should make the final determination on what is taught to their children. In some states, it is the state – not the parent – that controls what is taught in private and home schools. If we want to keep our right to decide what our children are taught in our home schools, we need to make sure we choose elected officials who agree.

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