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Robin Smith / August 17, 2021

Parents Increasingly Fight for Control

Bad policies from school boards have had at least one unintended good effect.

Lately, parents have become more active in the debate around what and how their children should be taught in public schools. Parents are weighing in on curriculum about “systemic racism,” policies about vaccinating children without parental consent, and the front-and-center debate of whether a child needs to wear a mask for the school day. The Left may be pushing wrong policies, but more parental involvement is a good thing.

The political Left teaches that America is racist because it was founded through oppression, prejudice, and white privilege. Kids are being taught how to affix blame using racism, not how to prevent it. Whether it’s called Critical Race Theory (CRT) or some other clever name used to camouflage activism, this indoctrination has been exposed, causing many states to ban the passing on of this mindset.

Based on the increased attendance at school board meetings across the U.S. with impassioned speeches from previously silent parents, it’s become clear that parents have significantly diminished trust in those making decisions in their schools.

Another issue, now that the 2021-2022 school year is here, is whether COVID vaccines and masks may be mandated by public school systems, especially against the wishes of parents. Until the FDA moves for official approval of these vaccines currently in use under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), the public needs information, not name-calling or fearmongering.

To date, only Pfizer-BioNTech has an EUA for 12-year-olds and up. The Pfizer/BNT vaccine is also the only vaccine to submit its Biologic License Application (BLA) with a resulting special priority review that may yield a full approval by the FDA by January 2022. Moderna has submitted the BLA to the FDA with no such special priority review or prospective approval window given to date.

Parents want and deserve answers regarding the safety and efficacy of COVID vaccines. In 43 states, specific parental consent is required for the administration of vaccines. In Alabama, Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, and South Carolina, minors may make significant healthcare decisions. Recently, a directive sent by a Tennessee Department of Health (DOH) physician reminded healthcare providers of the “Mature Minor Doctrine” that is observed in many states. It essentially offers some legal liability protections to healthcare providers in some cases if a minor chooses to circumvent parental consent. This bureaucratic path to offer COVID vaccine information and administration outside the awareness of parents is less than ideal in building or maintaining trust. Parents spoke out against this Tennessee DOH physician, who is consequently no longer employed by the state.

Finally, as schools resume classes, the debate rages over mask-wearing in school. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) public mask guidance has been fluid, to put it nicely, and criticism has come from both sides.

Criticism has not just come from the supposedly “science denying” Right. Dr. Kavita Patel, who served in the Obama administration and is a primary care physician in Washington, DC, commented earlier this year, “I think the CDC’s credibility is eroding.” Even The Washington Post railed last fall: “2020 has been a disaster for the CDC. The agency’s response to the worst public health crisis in a century — the coronavirus pandemic — has been marked by technical blunders and botched messaging.”

Adding insult to injury, the CDC allowed the leadership of a national teachers union to edit school policy relating to reopenings and closures due to COVID. Lobbying, not science, put verbatim language from the American Federation of Teachers in public health directives.

Parents are being reminded that they are the First Teachers and have influence not just in their homes but in their communities. For too long, bureaucracies have assumed that parents are surrendering their legal authority and voice when a student walks onto government-run school property. The ideology of a growing number in public education is that the system knows best, not parents. The year 2020 will be remembered for COVID; the year 2022 may be remembered for the parents making a difference in public education for the benefit of their children.

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