'Parents aren’t qualified to make decisions about curricula': Is NBC op-ed right?


Fact Box

  • On November 18, 2021, NBC News’ THINK Newsletter writer Christina Wyman wrote, “Unless they’re licensed and certified, parents aren’t qualified to make decisions about curricula. In fact, parental interference can actually hinder student advancement” in response to parents who want to ban critical race theory from classrooms. 
  • Critical Race Theory (CRT), started in higher academia and is the belief that institutions are “inherently racist” and that racial inequality stems from White superiority. It was developed by scholars in the 1970s as a response to perceived “slow progress following the Civil Rights Movement” in the 60s.
  • Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Iowa, New Hampshire, Arizona, and South Carolina have passed legislation disallowing CRT or its ideas from being taught in public schools. Several more states are drafting similar legislation.
  • A September 2021 USA TODAY/Ipsos poll reports over 60% of Americans want their children to learn about the “ongoing effects of slavery and racism,” but only half support teaching critical race theory in the classroom. 
  • A July 2020 Wall Street Journal poll reports 56% of respondents believe 'American society is racist.'

Jimmy (Yes)

With book banning and parental oversight on the rise, an NBC op-ed recently stated parents aren't 'qualified' to make decisions regarding school curricula. Considering the training involved before stepping into a classroom, NBC's opinion writer is right: There is a lot of education involved in and preceding educating and being an educator. Thirty-six states require master's degrees for educators with additional advanced degrees and licenses for administrative staff, amounting to over six years of focused training.

Teaching is more than just knowledge of a subject. According to Southern New Hampshire University, teachers develop 'honed communication skills, a desire to work with peers to solve problems, and the ability to adapt to new environments and circumstances.' Teachers must adapt to students' needs along with changes in their field of study. The ability to adapt is crucial, as we often see changes in science, our understanding of history, and inclusivity.

When parents control the curriculum, their biases inform education. This handicaps students, forcing them into the competitive world of secondary education without the necessary tools. From banning classic literature to canceling mental health studies and the history of slavery, parents assuage their fear of change by cementing their unmovable world views. This stunts the potential of younger generations.

Teaching doesn't end in the classroom. Instead of policing schools, parents should take an active role in education by engaging with their children. It is encouraged. If a parent disagrees with what a child learns in school, they can ask questions that spawn counterpoints, solidifying critical thinking skills. Teachers can't meddle at the dinner table, and parents shouldn't meddle in the classroom. 


Noah (No)

NBC News' Christina Wyman is wrong when she writes that, 'Unless they're licensed and certified, parents aren't qualified to make decisions about curricula. In fact, parental interference can actually hinder student advancement'.

Parents have been teaching their children since the dawn of time. Secular organized education is a relatively new concept. Religious leaders have been educating students since the 4th century, and the first public school in North America only dates back to 1635, not becoming widespread until the Reconstruction era after the US Civil War.

Parental involvement in something as simple as reading to their children has improved cognitive skills and helped with cognitive development. At a very basic level, parental involvement is typically positive and encouraging, leading to success in education. This is shown especially in hands-on homework help. Furthermore, parents are the strongest role model and influence, so children naturally adopt their values and behaviors.

Schools have been undermining creativity by their methods of education. Because schools are not doing enough to encourage it, parents are vital in fostering this creativity. If a school were the sole actor in a child's education, how can we be sure the single viewpoint is even correct without testing it?

Childhood education is different from higher education. It is the role of a college or university to challenge the scholar to think more openly, while it is the role of the k-12 school to provide the tools by which to process these larger thoughts. Anything outside of that is the parent's responsibility.

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