by James C. Sherlock
Sometimes, the simplest and certainly one of the best ways for a public official to serve the public is to inform them about things they care about.
The Attorney General of Indiana, perhaps the best governed state in America, has just published a roadmap for parents and caregivers to “exercise their legal right to have a voice in their children’s education.”
It is called the Parents Bill of Rights and is exactly the kind of initiative attorneys general should take to inform citizens of their rights on issues of public importance.
Good luck seeing such an assessment from Virginia’s AG.
It is of utmost importance that parents of young children understand their legal rights to participate in their children’s education. Indiana parents possess certain rights and responsibilities when it comes to overseeing the education of their K-12 students. State and federal law afford certain protections and guarantees under the First Amendment to assure children’s fundamental rights are not infringed.
Indiana parents also have the right and expectation that their children will receive a proper and accurate understanding of our nation’s history and governmental institutions, consistent with state and federal law. The Office of the Indiana Attorney General (“OAG”) recognizes how the current national discourse regarding political and social issues has created negative and polarizing effects on teachers, administrators, students, and families. Ideologies founded on divisive teachings and narrow interpretations of U.S. history run contrary to established Indiana educational requirements. As such, the Office of the Indiana Attorney General recognizes the importance of advising parents on how to engage in meaningful civic process and conversation that will ultimately benefit Indiana schools, parents, and our children. Education policy and curriculum should accurately reflect the values of Indiana families while meeting the mandatory requirements set by Indiana law.
Parental participation in children’s education is the single most essential factor in assuring school accountability under the law. This Parent Bill of Rights provides a roadmap for parental engagement and serves as an educational resource for parental participation in their child’s educational experience.”
The rights listed are clear and executable:
- You have the right and expectation to question and address your child’s school officials and school board members at publicly designated meetings with proper notice of the meeting provided.
- You have the right and expectation to question and review the curriculum taught in your child’s school by questioning local school board and school administrators.
- You have the right and expectation that the academic curriculum taught in your child’s school aligns with Indiana and federal law.
- You have the right and expectation to participate in the selection and approval of academic standards for the State of Indiana.
- You have the right and expectation to obtain educational materials and curriculum taught to your child in the classroom.
- You have the right to run as a candidate for your local school board.
A lengthy and to the point Q&A section is provided immediately after the list of rights that drills down into the details of each right and its source.
It is as useful for the Indiana Board of Education, school boards and superintendents as it is for parents.
In Virginia it would set expectations on both sides and potentially calm the atmosphere in the famously heated debates. But Todd Rokita is Indiana’s AG, not Virginia’s.
Everybody would win unless parent participation is not your goal. The last reason Mark Herring wants is parent involvement.
He is quite happy to have government run our public schools without messy public input.
Online “Town Hall” comment boards hardly count. They are set up and then taken down, never to be heard of again. They serve as a public pressure relief valve without consequence.
The AG election is in November.