In her superb March 24 Metro column “Yes, parents have rights — but also responsibilities,” Petula Dvorak debunked the myth that parents today need a federal Parents Bill of Rights to influence effectively their children’s public school education. In the real world, which Ms. Dvorak experiences with her children — the world free of right-wing efforts to stoke culture war rage — teachers, administrators and librarians are delighted to meet with parents to discuss behavior, academic performance and expectations, assigned books, social-emotional needs, and a whole host of school/parent issues.
The experience of my wife and I with our children in Arlington County’s excellent public schools has been similar. There, too, teachers work long hours at modest pay, yet they were unfailingly courteous and happy to meet with me and my wife on short notice to discuss our children’s education.
Ms. Dvorak was also correct in noting that at least some of the recent decline in student educational performance might be attributed to “poor parenting,” not poor teaching. Instead of enlisting in the brigades of organized political groups pursuing deeply conservative boogeymen (LGBTQ grooming, critical race theory, revisionist history), parents might better help their children by assuming some responsibility for that education themselves — by limiting their children’s time on digital devices, reading with their children, making themselves aware of homework requirements and due dates, and volunteering in the school library or classroom.
Effective education requires well-trained, credentialed teachers and involved parents. It is not well-served by a cynical and partisan federal act that, in one stroke, demeans educators and lets parents off the hook.
John Seymour, Arlington