Parents, Students, and Education
Some critics blast public education for ignoring parents’ wishes on what their children should learn in school.
Should parents care about their children’s education? Absolutely. Do these critics correctly identify the
problems or propose viable solutions? Absolutely not.
These parents want schools to reinforce what they teach their children at home: to steer children from ideas
that might undercut views parents foist on children.
It matters not that such views are typically ill-informed, frequently indefensible, and rarely defended.
These critics hold defective views of children and education. Parents are responsible for and to children;
they do not own them. And education should not simply parrot what parents or friends say. It should
expand students’ experiential and imaginary horizons by introducing them to history, the arts, and science.
More fundamentally, it should help students cultivate skills and dispositions empowering them to intelligently
evaluate ideas in a complex and changing world.
I am a southern white reared in a family, community, society, and school system that treated people of color
as inferior to whites and women as subservient to men. When one grows up hearing these views echoed
by significant influences in her life, most people lack the impetus and abilities to evaluate what others tell them.
Todays’ critics of education cannot see that and why a proper education is the engine of liberty and enriches
our lives. It cannot achieve these worthy aims by expecting children to mimic their parents.