This is a Hub Debate on the role of boards of education. For more background, read this. Participate in the comments or submit a response for publication to UtahPoliticoHub@gmail.com. The question is: “Who do you think the board should serve? Parents? Students? Why?“
It is a constitutional right for parents to have primary control over their child’s education and it is state law that the State be supportive of the parents’ primary role. Additionally, both the Supreme Court and Natural Law support the right of parents to direct our children’s education.
Even while the law is clear, parents across America have been experiencing what James Madison surmised when he said, “I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
His quote embodies what has been happening in education reform since the 60’s—a slow erosion of parental rights over education decisions for our children as the federal government has wrested power from the states and state and local education leaders have embraced the idea that education is about what’s good for the collective, not what’s good for the individual. State leaders claim to be focused on serving student’s individual needs, but their words and actions show otherwise.
This month at the Small Business Summit, Governor Herbert echoed the words of federal education reformers by saying, “We have a renewed emphasis on improving the skills of our workforce to align with the demands of the marketplace.” He also said “the process of identifying young people with aptitude for STEM-related careers should begin in the elementary school years.” He called such a move, “alignment.”
Such “alignment” is found in German and Chinese education systems where elementary children are slotted for jobs based on perceived workforce needs. Governors Huntsman and Herbert signed federal MOUs that put Utah on the path towards adopting national education standards and tests, respectively. National standards make it possible for the collective vision to be realized in America.
It is farcical for the Utah State Board, the Education Task Force, the Governor and elite federal education reformers to say that they are working to serve individual student’s needs when they openly admit they are working to serve the needs of the state. Utah parents instinctively recognize that our children’s unique talents and abilities will not be realized when education is suited for the collective. It behooves the State Board to realign its purposes with those of parents—to serve parents’ interests by educating children for human greatness, not to serve the state by educating children to meet the needs of the workforce. Such a refocus will restore liberty in education and eschew a centralized bureaucracy and economy.
On August 8th, the State Board will decide whether to renew the state’s Federal Waiver that bound Utah to national standards. The Waiver bypassed Congress and the right of parents to due process. We must not renew. Once out of the Waiver, we can take a serious look at federal funding and decide if we have the will to be self-reliant in education funding for the purposes of restoring parental rights and individual liberty.