Many of today’s cultural battles can be traced back to an underestimation or outright disdain for the family unit and the vital role it plays.
Toxic ideologies such as critical race theory and gender ideology, for example, have become embedded in the public education system because activists, teachers, and administrators believe they have the right and responsibility to impose their own values on children, regardless of parental beliefs.
Any effort to correct this attitude and restore the proper balance of authority is usually met with sneering condescension from self-righteous leftists. Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe famously opined that he thinks parents should shut up and accept whatever schools want to teach their children. This admission may have been the consequence of political obtuseness, but the fact is McAuliffe is far from the only Democrat who thinks this way. Indeed, Democrats communicate this disdain for parental rights every time they vote against school choice or curricular transparency initiatives.
Republicans have certainly sensed the political opportunity in this, with a number of GOP states such as Florida, Arizona, and North Carolina passing legislation to protect parental rights. At the federal level, House Republicans unveiled a bill this week called The Parents Bill of Rights, which aims to give parents more transparency and accountability. The bill is based on “five pillars,” according to McCarthy: “The right to know what’s being taught in the school”; the right to bring concerns directly to education officials; “the right to see the school budgets”; “the right to protect your child’s privacy”; and the “right to be updated on any violent activity at the school.”
These are vital steps — not just politically but culturally as well. Parents bear the primary responsibility for the upbringing and education of children. Any attempt by the state to subvert or trample on this responsibility undermines the family’s essential work and its place in the social fabric. We should not be surprised that so few young men and women today are looking to start families when the message being preached from the highest levels of government is that the family unit and the bonds that hold it together are valuable only insofar as they empower the state.
Politics that make the family and its well-being a top priority will have a positive impact not only on education but on many of the cultural ills with which we’re dealing today, from rampant fatherlessness to record-high teenage depression to alarming overdose rates. Republicans should think of The Parents Bill of Rights as just the first step of many in making this happen.