After receiving a backlash from the homeschool community, the United States federal government is backing off its claim of having “equality with parents” when it comes to raising their children.
Advocates of parental rights concerned about government overreach when it comes to their children’s development were relieved that the feds are not moving forward with its power grab to gain more control of children in America.
“[T]wo federal agencies removed dangerous language from proposed regulations that would have treated governments and schools as ‘equal partners’ with parents,” the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) announced.
The outcry began after the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a draft education policy statement last December declaring governments to be “equal partners” with parents when it comes to decisions about the educational, physical and emotional development of America’s youth.
Not taking the declaration lightly, HSLDA attorneys made it clear that the government was overstepping its bounds.
“[We] condemned this attempt to weaken the critical and God-given importance of parents and increase the power of the government,” HSLDA Federal Relations Legislative Assistant Lauren Mitchell reports.
The Christian legal group pointed out that the federal agencies’ claim on children is nothing less than a competion with parents to raise kids.
“This one sentence unmasks the federal government’s true philosophy: … the federal government believes that its role is equal with the role of parents,” HSLDA wrote in a response statement.
Parents have heard enough
Outlining various problems with the draft and voicing the strong opposition of parents complaining about the “bureaucratic arrogance” from coast to coast, HSLDA Federal Relations Director Will Estrada got together with officials from the U.S. Department of Education to plead his case.
Evidently taking heed to Estrada’s argument, the DOE and HHS proceeded to issue a revised policy statement that removed the “equal partners” language so that it now acknowledges the primary importance of family involvement in a child’s education.
“Families are children’s first and most important teachers, advocates, and nurturers,” the new policy statement reads. “Strong family engagement in early childhood systems and programs is central — not supplemental — to promoting children’s healthy intellectual, physical, and social-emotional development; preparing children for school; and supporting academic achievement in elementary school and beyond. Research indicates that families’ involvement in children’s learning and development impacts lifelong health, developmental, and academic outcomes.”
Included in the verbiage is the federal agencies’ reaffirmation of the role that parents have in their children’s education — a listing that focuses on a number of research findings noting the importance of family involvement.
“Families have strong and sustained effects on children’s learning, development and wellness,” the revision states. “Family activities such as reading and talking to young children lead to positive outcomes. Promoting enriching learning activities in the classroom and in the home contributes to children’s learning and development.”
It’s not over yet
Even though many concessions were made by the DOE and HHS in the newly issued statement, HSLDA maintains that a battle was won, but the war over parental rights is far from over — due to a number of problematic statements still included in the document.
“The document’s working definition of ‘family’ still includes not only a child’s parents or legal guardians, but ‘all adults who interact with early childhood systems in support of their child, to include biological, adoptive, and foster parents; grandparents; legal and informal guardians; and adult siblings,’” Mitchell informed. “From HSLDA’s perspective — in situations where conflict may exist between a child’s parents and other family members regarding educational choices — this still quite broad definition of family is not helpful for clarity regarding parental rights in education.”
The litigation expert stresses that there is still a long road ahead for parental rights advocates who want to unclench the federal government’s power grab that it has continued to strengthen over kindergartners through high school seniors for decades on end.
“This policy statement itself sets the stage for continued federal involvement in early education programs — something that HSLDA has long criticized,” Mitchell continued. “In addition, the Common Core State Standards, early education programs such as Head Start, and interstate data tracking of students remain prominent matters of concern for those concerned about freedom in American education.”
It is contended that only a concerted effort to curb federal overreach in education will stand a chance.
“Ultimately, it is the action of parents, teachers and local school boards that will keep federal overreach at bay,” Mitchell concluded. “This policy statement is just another example of how your continued vigilance for homeschool freedom is a crucial and powerful stand against power grabs by the federal government.”