Children need robust parental involvement
By David Collins for Chalkboard Review
“I’m a parent. I haven’t got the luxury of principles.” – Benjamin Martin, The Patriot
This memorable quote from The Patriot may be true in times of war, where life is hung in balance, but it isn’t true in times of peace. If anything, principles are the foundation of what makes parents act; it’s what guides their decision-making on a daily basis, and what gives more fulfillment to their lives.
There are two principles that are under attack today and apply to all parents (and their children), but especially to dads:
- Education is the cornerstone of a flourishing society, and
- Parents are the primary educators of their children.
Virginian and Founding Father James Madison once said, “a diffusion of knowledge is the only guardian of true liberty.” Two key elements of diffusing knowledge are education and grassroots engagement. Education needs an action step because politics flow downstream from culture. The pandemic proved this true.
COVID-19, as painful as it has been for many families, shined a bright light on the longstanding degradation of curricula and social norms in our K-12 public schools–something many of us, myself included, took for granted.
This bright light — this “diffusion of knowledge” — caused both school boards and teachers unions to scramble, and propelled parents to turn their blood-boiling internal frustrations into inflamed grassroots action.
Parents began to demand accountability and higher standards from school boards, as witnessed in Loudoun and Fairfax Counties. Governor Glenn Youngkin won his gubernatorial campaign because he capitalized on this growing grassroots movement, uniting moms and dads across the political spectrum. Their efforts have led to improvements across the state, like Youngkin’s executive order banning “inherently divisive concepts” and establishing a tip line for people to report teachers for teaching divisive concepts.
But as impressive as Glenn Youngkin’s win over Terry McAuliffe was, the fight for education freedom is far from over. And even with such robust parental involvement, there still seems to be a missing piece.
From 2020 to 2022, moms and dads alike across Virginia (and the country) have carried the torch for education freedom. But it seems that there is still a space in this movement that could be filled with many more dads and grandads.
Moms and grandmoms are admittedly more visible in the education reform movement, and maybe dads feel like they don’t have a proper home in the movement. But whatever the reason for the shortage of dads may be, just imagine how much more the movement could accomplish in the fight for advancing education freedom and curriculum transparency, promoting pro-American curriculum, and supporting the election of like-minded school board candidates if more dads (and dudes) fully got behind the movement.
At the end of the day, despite the movement’s great success, dads are still the central piece missing in many states’ education reform battles. But thankfully, there is great work being done to address this dad-shaped hole. FreedomWorks Foundation’s Building Education for Students Together (BEST) recently launched its “BEST Dads and Dudes” initiative, which aims to bring more like-minded men into the fold to fight for education freedom in the Old Dominion state and beyond. This is just one group that is encouraging dads to stand up for their kids, but we need even more.
Dads, this is the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to fundamentally reform our education system — not only for long-term but for immediate, tangible outcomes. We need all hands on deck to take action on the principles you hold dear. Will you join me?