By CONNIE PILLSBURY
SAN LUIS OBISPO — The battle for who controls our children’s education has heated up to the level of a raucous bullfight all across America. Fueling the fire is the juxtaposition of opposing cultural philosophies, all wishing to impose their beliefs on the minds of our youth.
In the 20th century, there was a general consensus of cultural values based on the Judeo-Christian ethic, the importance of the family unit, a love of country, honesty, integrity, and hard work. Education as a means of upward mobility and opportunity was a shared goal as beloved as baseball. School was the key, and public school was the vehicle. Americans, in general, trusted the school boards and state departments of education to design a curriculum, provide textbooks and teachers that would build educated, capable contributing citizens for the future.
As time went along, these bureaucracies, especially at the state level in California, became top-heavy with the trust and power given to them carte blanche by the parents. This resulted in parents gradually losing influence on the content, values, and viewpoints being taught to their children. Teachers unions, academia, and special interest groups corralled control of the educational system at the state level through political influence of the languid one-party government with only a few observant parents taking notice and exiting the system.
Until COVID-19, the educational wake-up call.
What was already a beginning resistance to the imbalance of power perceived by the parents became a torrent, with groups, movements, recall petitions of governors, and school boards reflecting the discontent. There is the 51,000-member Informed Parents of California, whose motto is “We will stop at nothing to protect our kids.” The group went to Sacramento and succeeded in the deletion of four highly offensive sex education books for K-12 last March.
Another example is EdChoice, which has been promoting school choice since founder, the late Milton Friedman, Nobel-winning economist, stated, “Instead of requiring that tax dollars and students follow a single path to public schools, funds earmarked for education and generated by taxes should be directed by parents to the school of their choice.” This has become known as the ‘voucher’ system and is now being implemented in seven states with ‘education savings accounts.” The impetus for these programs has been accelerated by the interest in alternative forms of learning sought during the pandemic, as well as by teacher-union self-serving refusal to return to the classroom.
Locally, a group of moms have joined “Moms for Liberty,” launched in January 2021 by two moms, both school board members, in Florida. This is a non-profit, non-partisan group promoting a return of power to the parents and the freedom to choose in what manner their children will be educated.
There are more than twenty new chapters of “Moms for Liberty” across the country, with the first California chapter right here in San Luis Obispo County. The group already has members from all areas in the county.
Under the leadership of Jennifer Grinager of Templeton and a board of directors, their local short-term goal is “Full in-person school in the fall with no masks.”
Grinager says, “There is no reason to mask children. They are not carriers, they rarely transmit the virus, and children have a 99.94 percent recovery rate. Children need to breathe.”
The long term goals of this dedicated group are consistent with parent groups across the country who are committed to strengthening the role of the parent in choosing what system of education works for their child, whether it be a charter school, pod school, homeschool, and in promoting the parents’ right of being solely responsible for medical decisions for their child, including vaccinations, masks and in reforming existing public education to be more responsive to the input from parents at a local level.
San Luis Obispo County parents interested in Moms for Liberty can request to join the private Facebook group by going to Moms for Liberty – San Luis Obispo County. With a monthly meeting and information sharing, the group is looking for more interested local moms to start sub-committees, attend school board meetings, meet with board members and work toward getting the word out that parents truly can have a say and a choice in how their children are educated.
Yes, it’s a bullfight, and it will be an uphill battle, but Moms for Liberty are willing to stay in the arena to get the power back where it belongs – in the hands of the parents.