Despite the grief it brought, the pandemic also produced some fruits, including a revisiting of current educational modes. Newly awakened parents began showing up at school board meetings, speaking up for their children’s educational interests.
This illuminated something the Christian Church has understood for a long time: that God endowed parents to be the first and primary educators of their children.
Good for you, parents, in taking this duty seriously!
With local elections coming up, it seems a good time to review the function of governing bodies, especially concerning our children’s education and how this topic intersects with faith.
In the worst times in history, the education of our youngest citizens has been removed from parents’ hands and portioned to governments or other entities far less qualified and invested in the specific humans in our care.
Recently, a candidate for the Fargo Public School Board, Kristin Sharbono, reached out to me after I shared thoughts publicly about a fellow candidate with strong ties to the abortion industry. Sharbono conveyed her own concerns about the future of education.
Several of her fellow candidates, she said, had implied that the opinions of “experts” should override parents in making decisions for their own children, including within discussions on COVID mitigation and LGBTQ+, which they’d put forth as top campaign concerns.
One candidate, she noted, had even solicited statewide grants that include provisions for teaching teachers how to talk to our students about sex, promoting blurry lines between sex education and appropriate student-teacher relationships. “I personally believe that it is the right and responsibility of parents to teach their children values,” Sharbono said.
I agree, as does the Christian Church. So, what does the Church say? While I can’t speak to all denominations on the matter, the “Catholic Catechism” addresses this topic in a section on “The duties of parents,” noting that our children’s moral education and spiritual foundation falls to us.
“The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute,” begins section 2221. “The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.”
A couple paragraphs down, we read that, with this right and duty in place, “Parents should teach children to avoid the compromising and degrading influences which threaten human societies.”
The Catechism also asserts that parents have a fundamental right to choose a school for their children that corresponds to their own convictions, and that “public authorities have the duty of guaranteeing this parental right and of ensuring the concrete conditions for its exercise.”
Parents, even if you’ve never heard these things stated so clearly, it’s likely you’ve felt them in your heart. Be affirmed in this. Regardless of what some might say, you have a God-given right to be the main influencer of your children and their education. Guard this right vociferously, and do everything possible not to relinquish it to those who do not—and could not possibly—have your children’s best interests in mind.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on May 30, 2022.]