Moore County Board of Education, the “Parent’s Bill of Rights,” & the Law of Unintended Consequences
Writer's note: The relevant part of the language included in the "Parent's Bill of Rights" is attached and highlighted in yellow. The entire policy can be found at the following link:
On Monday, April 17, the Moore County Board of Education voted 6-1 in favor of a “Parent’s Bill of Rights” policy that was intended to do one thing and one thing only - force teachers and school staff to out transgender students to their parents. Unfortunately for the Board, the policy is so vaguely and badly written, it has in fact removed the ability of any teacher or school administrator to follow curriculum or to enforce discipline and order in any instance where any parent objects.
The law of unintended consequences, often cited but rarely defined, is that actions of people, and especially of governments, always have effects that are unanticipated or "unintended." Economists and other social scientists have heeded its power for centuries; for just as long, politicians and popular opinion have largely ignored it. The Moore County Board of Education, in its zealousness to designate transgender students for targeted discrimination, certainly didn’t consider the ramifications of the words it has enshrined into official MCS policy.
Section I-A of the policy states:
Schools shall respect parents’ values and beliefs: Parents have the right to instill in and nurture values and beliefs for their own children and make decisions concerning their children’s education and upbringing in accordance with their customs, faith, and family culture.
It further states:
Parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing and education of their children and the state may not interfere with “the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control.”
Section I-B states:
Schools shall defer to parents to make the best social and moral decisions with respect to their children.
These statements give almost total control over a child’s education to the parent. While it’s clear that the Board of Education wrote this language to justify specifically targeting LBGTQ+ students to be held to a different standard of reporting than their fellow students, it has opened up an opportunity for parents to “opt out” of any lesson or educational activity during school hours for any reason.
A parent may refuse to allow their child to participate in, be instructed on, or tested about basic science regarding space and the universe if it conflicts with the parent’s customs, faith, and family culture. In other words, if the parent believes the earth is flat, that parent can now demand their child not be taught it is round.
A parent may refuse to allow their child to participate in, be instructed on, or tested about any religious text - even if it is being taught only as a form of literature, history, or sociology. In other words, any parent can demand their child not be “indoctrinated” by even the mention of any religious faith, even as it pertains to historical and social educational concepts.
A parent may refuse to allow their child to participate in, be instructed on, or tested about any mention of Christopher Columbus as the man responsible for the discovery of America. In other words, a parent who believes Columbus didn’t discover America but instead conquered it through mass genocide of the native people can demand their children sit out of any lesson on Columbus or recognition of Columbus Day.
Parents can opt their children out of running laps in physical education classes if their family culture and belief is that exercise should only be done at home, or first thing in the morning.
Parents can opt their children out of learning any and all secular songs (or any religious based hymns) in music class.
Parents can demand that their child attend no class taught by a female teacher if their religious or cultural belief is that women shouldn’t be leaders. For that matter, they can demand that their child attends no class taught by a woman wearing pants or skirts that don’t reach all the way to the ankles if their culture or customs dictate women must wear skirts or be completely covered.
Oh, and parents can certainly opt out of the new policy passed by the Board of Education requiring their students to produce four handwritten book reports per year in order to be promoted. How? Simply say it is the culture of the family to utilize technology in their child’s education and to reject education methods brought back from the stone age.
Many of those reading this commentary may think the examples outlined above are ridiculous and will never come up. Well, maybe. The point is that they *could* come up, and if they do, the Board must acquiesce to the parent’s demand - no matter how crazy that demand is - because their policy says the parent is in FULL control of their child’s education.
I have a feeling that the last example - the one where parents will opt their children out of the handwritten book reports - will be the first battle.
Guess we’ll see how the Board of Education deals with the unintended consequences of their naked and blatant bigotry.
***Commentary by Cheryl Christy. Cheryl can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org