Parental Rights – A Discussion
Parental rights are being ignored as schools make life-changing decisions for our children absent public and parental discussion. Parents should decide what medical interventions and subject matter they desire for their own children.
What I will do to make a change:
- I will vote during school board meetings for no mandates as parents have the right to decide what is best for their children.
- I will support the requirement of positive written consent from parents before any medical interventions take place.
- I will support parents’ right to opt out of any K-12 school requirements or programs without their children being at risk of punishment, ridicule, or harassment.
- I will prioritize opening a line of communication between the school board and families.
- I will work to establish a foundation of trust with constituents so that no families should have to worry about the children being told to keep classroom content a secret from their parents.
Schools Are Making Decisions about Mask Requirements without Parent Involvement.
Since the onset of COVID, schools have introduced mask requirements over the objection of parents. Mandates vary from state to state and county to county. Many states that previously issued mandates are now lifting these requirements as the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that COVID poses only a medium or low risk currently in indoor settings.
In a 5-4 vote, the Cumberland County School Board recently determined that masks would be made optional in public schools as of February 16, 2022. This vote proved to be controversial as one board member reportedly said that lifting the mask mandate was an “irresponsible decision.” Of note, at this meeting, Board Chair Greg West explained that students would still be required to wear masks on school buses per federal guidelines (that requirement was recently lifted.)
Parents around Cumberland County have long felt dismayed and unheard during the pandemic in regard to their children’s experiences in the public school systems. Our children have suffered from a lack of social interaction. Research in psychology has emphasized how masks hide our ability to read each other’s facial expressions and limit the quality of our ability to understand one another.
The parents of Cumberland County want the best for our children. But how can we be sure that our children’s mental well-being is a priority? We are witnessing board members voting for a mask mandate despite the CDC itself noting a lower risk of exposure currently, and despite many, many studies showing the ineffectiveness of masking.
Parents Are Being Left Out of the Loop While the School Districts Make Decisions for Our Children about the Vaccine.
In 2021, the school districts began offering vaccine clinics at several Cumberland County high schools for children aged 12 or older. The mixed messages and lack of clarity began then. One news article echoing information from county officials stated that CCS students would “need” to be vaccinated before school started again in 2021. However, Cumberland County Schools’ own announcement simply stated that vaccines were recommended by the CDC.
Cumberland County Schools have also stated that they will notify parents with information about the vaccine clinics. However, parents are concerned about being left out of the loop and their children being pressured into getting the vaccine. On August 20, 2021, North Carolina law changed to require written consent from a parent or legal guardian before a health care worker could administer a vaccine to a minor due to lack of FDA approval for the vaccine. As COVID vaccinations gain FDA approval, written consent from a parent or legal guardian is no longer required.
This is alarming as parents struggle to keep up with notifications about the ever-changing laws regarding their children’s health. Some parents believe schools will claim they notified parents and will use the supposed lack of response as justification for vaccination of their children instead of requiring positive parental approval. The underlying truth is that parents feel a disconnect from what is happening in the school districts and simply wish to be included in these important decisions and to be notified about crucial changes.
The Involvement of Federal Funds to Local Schools for Pandemic Relief Appears to Be More Valued than the Involvement of Students’ Parents.
The provision of federal funds to local governments depends on whether the local systems are implementing and enforcing federal guidelines concerning COVID. In September 2021, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction announced that the state won approval of a spending plan from the federal government for a total of $3.6 billion towards COVID relief measures with the majority of those funds going towards K-12 schools.
Parents are concerned that the federal push for vaccinations and masking will influence local health and school administrators now that money is at stake. The US Department of Education continues to push for vaccinations for children aged 12 or older as students return to in-person classes, noting that these vaccinations were made available primarily through federal relief funds for schools.
Is access to federal pandemic relief funds influencing the decisions of the current members of the Cumberland County School Board? How can we as parents trust that the school board members are making decisions that promote the emotional and physical health of our children?
The Classroom Content in North Carolina Schools Is Shrouded in Secrecy with Some Teachers Instructing Students to Not Tell.
Recognizing that the quality of educational offerings is important for their children’s future success in life, many Cumberland County parents are frustrated at the school board dismissing suggestions and opinions on curriculum choices. Some curricula and books are well outside of what we parents would choose for our children.
Despite North Carolina banning the promotion of Critical Race Theory as of 2021, students were reporting to their parents that their teachers were making alarming comments such as telling the children they should be ashamed if they are “white and Christian.” North Carolina schools also came under fire for allowing minors to make decisions on discussing sensitive issues, ranging from abortions to vaccines to gender theory. Even more disturbing is the fact that some teachers, advisors, and administrators have counseled children not to tell their parents the content of sensitive subject matters discussed in schools.
Once again, parents feel a disconnect within the local public school system where we have no ability to provide input on our children’s education. All we want is the best for our children and to have the reassurance that the best will be provided. Instead, we are met with a wall of secrecy.
Parents know their children’s full medical history and should have the right to decide what is best for their child in conjunction with their pediatrician’s advice. A public school system should not be making health decisions for minors, especially a system that is motivated by access to federal funding. School systems should require the involvement of parents and positive written consent before any medical interventions take place.
Parents should be able to opt out of any K-12 requirements or programs without their children being at risk of institutional punishment, ridicule, or harassment. Most importantly, opening a line of communication between the school board and families is critical. The Cumberland County School Board must work to establish a foundation of trust with constituents. No parents should have to hear their children come home with the news that the students were instructed by teachers not to tell important details from school.