It’s come to this: Last week, the New Hampshire legislature overturned a gubernatorial veto of a bill that will allow parents to object to material being taught in school and further empowers them to find and pay for suitable, educationally acceptable alternatives to the curricula being foisted on their children.
New Hampshire’s H.B. 542 is unusual for several reasons, not the least of which is its concision. The law itself is only 198 words, and that includes the heading, “In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Eleven.”
It also carries a fiscal impact of zero. I said it was unusual.
What makes it most extraordinary, though, is that it gives greater, not less, authority to parents of school children. Suffice to say, this has not been the trend for quite some time.
Despite its brevity, H.B. 542 packs a punch for parents. Here’s what it says (since paraphrasing it would use more words than simply quoting):
“Require school districts to adopt a policy allowing an exception to specific course material based on a parent’s or legal guardian’s determination that the material is objectionable. Such policy shall include a provision requiring the parent or legal guardian to notify the school principal or designee in writing of the specific material to which they object and a provision requiring an alternative agreed upon by the school district and the parent, at the parent’s expense, sufficient to enable the child to meet state requirements for education in the particular subject area.”
To protect the privacy of students, the law also requires that the names of parents or guardians seeking this option be kept confidential.
Not surprisingly, leftists have pounced on the “first-term Tea Party” majority in the New Hampshire legislature by calling them, and the parents whose rights they seek to protect, idiots, because … well, because that’s the go-to conclusion when anyone dares to question the wisdom or motives of public educators.
In his objections to the bill, Democratic Gov. John Lynch also fed the liberal condescension that parents would use this law to undermine the teaching of subjects such as reading and algebra.
“For example, under this bill, parents could object to a teacher’s plan to teach the history of France or the history of the civil or women’s rights movements,” Mr. Lynch is reported to have said.
“The intrinsic value of education is exposing students to new ideas and critical thinking,” he said. “This legislation encourages teachers to go the lowest common denominator in selecting material, in order to avoid ‘objections’ and the disruption it may cause their classrooms.”
Does Mr. Lynch really believe this law will be invoked to force teachers to use phonics rather than whole reading in the Granite State’s elementary schools?
That’s unlikely, and liberals like Mr. Lynch know it.
Rather, it’s intended to provide options to parents like Dennis and Aimee Taylor, whose outspoken objection to course material for Bedford High School’s personal finance course brought this issue to light in the first place.
Curriculum for that class included Barbara Ehrenreich’s, Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, a leftist screed that decries capitalism and refers to Jesus Christ as a “wine-guzzling vagrant and precocious socialist.” It’s this sort of indoctrination parents are worried about, not algebra.
That is, unless New Hampshire educators also teach so-called “social justice math,” in which case, the best alternative may be home-schooling.
All across America, parents and lawmakers are realizing they may actually have the power to take control of the “skool aid” curriculum that now passes for education in our public schools.
Heck, Utah has even gone so far as to mandate that their schools teach students that the United States is, in fact, a democratically elected constitutional republic, and not just your garden-variety democracy.
What next, Utah? Phonics?
(© 2012 Marybeth Hicks)