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Championing Parents’ Rights in Education

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
February 21, 2022 5:00 am

Championing Parents’ Rights in Education

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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February 21, 2022 5:00 am

Senator James Lankford addresses key concerns of many parents as well as a new school choice resolution he’s introduced – SR 493. In addition, he examines the meaning of critical race theory and its origins, other harmful ideologies, and controversial mask mandates in schools.

This FREE, 5-part video series will equip you to know what CRT is and isn’t and how you can respond to what it teaches with confidence and scriptural accuracy. These lessons will also help you learn how to talk with your children about CRT and help them stand firm in the Christian faith:

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I'm really concerned about critical race theory being forced down my kid's throat in public school. I don't want anybody to tell my child or any other children that because of the way they look, that they can or cannot do something. I think it's limiting for their development. A concern I have about my kids going to public school is outside influences from friends or teachers who don't believe the way that we do at home.

Medically, neither of my sons could wear masks or take vaccines. That and other reasons are why they're now homeschooled. It's been hard but worth it for them not to be in public school. Parents around the country are showing a lot of concern about their children's education these days, especially in the public school system. And today, on Focus on the Family, we'll address some of the issues that you might be wrestling with as you look after your children's best interests. Thanks for joining us for Focus on the Family with Jim Daly.

I'm John Fuller. John, over the past few months, we've seen some contentious debate in public education. A lot of it has bubbled to the surface during the pandemic. Parents, maybe for the first time, actually seeing what their kids are being taught and being alarmed by it. Now, I realize there are millions of Christian students and teachers and administrators working in public schools. Barna research, in fact, indicates that faith is important to about half of public school teachers. That's a great thing.

Many of them are doing a wonderful job. The same study shows that 84% of church-attending families send their children to public schools, so we should all have an interest in this area. Jean and I did that with our own boys.

They went to public school, too. We've invited Senator James Lankford from Oklahoma to join us by phone. He's recently introduced a new resolution for school choice, and we'll talk about that, among other things, with him. And Senator Lankford has been serving in the U.S. Senate since 2014. And before that, he served in the U.S. House of Representatives and was also a youth pastor for 20 years. Senator Lankford, thanks for joining us again here at Focus on the Family.

It is always a pleasure to be with you again. Let me ask you, you have put this great bill forward, and we're going to get to more of that. But tell us what is happening in public schools. Why are parents activated right now?

And why should we know about it? Well, parents are activated, thankfully, in the sense that parents should have been activated all along. I would tell you, you talk to just about any teacher, they would tell you what you really need is more parent involvement. But what's happening right now on school boards, they're saying, hey, we want less parent involvement. The reason they're getting parent involvement right now is obviously because of COVID. A lot of parents were watching what their kids were being taught in school, and they were shocked to be able to do homework with them for the first time, maybe in a long time, to say this is what my kids are being taught or not taught or this is what they're being fed. And parents are getting engaged. They're not just mad about the vaccine mandates and the mask mandates and all those things. They're upset about the curriculum and what's actually coming at their kids. And for many of them, when they see it, they think, what am I going to do about this?

And the engagement now has begun. Yeah, and what's happened there in Virginia is a great example. And in part, I'm sure, as you're observing as a U.S. senator from Oklahoma, you're seeing what's going on. You're getting your briefings. That Loudoun County situation where the previous governor basically said we don't want parents involved in public school.

I mean, that may have cost him the election, many experts say. But then you had this mommy movement, these mama bears, and I met a couple of them while I was out in Virginia not long ago. I mean, they're just normal, down to earth people that want to get something done to protect their kids.

And I would not get in their way. You know, it's just moms that are out there, moms and dads, by the way, that are engaging to be able to say, okay, I just thought my kids were going to learn how to read more and learn about history and learn science and learn all the things that I learned when I was in school. And I'm planning out they're hardly getting any of that and that my child is really learning more indoctrination and liberal perspective than they are actually real education. And so, again, these parents that are getting involved, they're finding ways to be able to meet with teachers, meet with principals, go to the school board meetings.

And many of them that get on TV near the Loudoun County and all of what happened in Virginia got on a lot of TV nationwide. But I find a lot of parents are saying, hey, I don't want to go in public and be able to get to a school board meeting and complain. But I do want to sit down with the principal. I do want to sit down with the homework that came home or with the assignment that was here and say, would you read this? And you tell me this is okay.

And they're getting into private meetings. So while I meet parents that say, I don't want to be the big public face, I don't want to get in a big fight, but I do want this to be different. Good for you. Go get engaged.

Go do what God has called you to do to be able to actually help your children to be able to grow in the grace and knowledge of God. Let's talk for a moment about the legislation that you're putting forward. What does it say? What does it accomplish? So the resolution we're putting forward is just the most basic thing, that there's a necessity of school choice across our nation, that parents should be involved, and that things like critical race theory that's being promoted by schools should not be promoted in our schools.

And so what we push, and this has been for a while now, we continue to be able to push this most basic thing. Don't separate children and don't separate all people or parents into oppressed and oppressor categories. Don't sit down, as they do with some kindergartners, and say they're going to be young social justice warriors. Don't sit down with a child and say, you're an oppressed individual, and train them from their earliest days.

You really don't have the same chances everyone else has. The American dream is every child, every person can rise. If there are barriers to individuals being on the rise, we clear away those barriers. But we don't separate children into oppressed and oppressors, and to be able to tell this group of children, sit over there because you're the oppressor class, and this group of children over here, you're the oppressed class, and so we're going to do something different.

So this resolution just brings up the most basic thing. It recognizes the rights of parents to be able to guide their child's education. It recognizes that critical race theory presses people down rather than lifting people up. And then it informs individuals of the necessity of the ability for people to make choices on their schools. You know, and in so many ways, Senator, it sounds exactly what Martin Luther King Jr. was hoping for, that it would be on a meritocracy basis that people could rise above their skin color and be selected based on their character and their content, right? That was the goal. And it seems like we're going in a different direction now.

It is shocking now. If someone were to stand up and to say people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin, they would be pressed back now and say, no, that's wrong. You need to see the color of my skin first, and then to be able to see because of the color of your skin who you are.

So it's an immediate judgment of because of your skin color, you are one of those. Well, that is the exact opposite of what we tried to always be as a nation in this modern day. And again, we were pretty terrible at it for 200 years. But as a nation, we continue to be able to grow and develop of who we are as a nation, how we can recognize all people having worth and value in every person, life, liberty and pursuit of happiness for every single individual.

Again, we've grown a lot as a nation and a good thing. And some folks that are saying, if you're opposed to critical race theory, you're opposed to teaching history far from the truth. Let's teach all of history. Let's just teach the truth of history. Get it all out there because we can all learn from our history, good, bad and ugly. We can all see it and to say this is what we have come from and look how far we have come. It also challenges to look how far we still have to go in areas.

But we are continuing to be able to improve and become a more perfect union. That's something to be celebrated, not something to be able to say, well, let's go backwards and to be able to label everyone based on merely the color of their skin. You know, one of the criticisms has been that there's not a curriculum per se that's called critical race theory curriculum.

I think I just read in the Wall Street Journal the other day. It's known in that state as critical justice, critical social justice. And I think people in Idaho were kind of surprised to see it throughout their public schools, kind of state sanctioned, a place like Idaho.

And so how would a parent, how do you get engaged? How do you discover what's going on? Yeah, there are a lot of different names out there. You also see diversity, equity and inclusion training and programming. Another term is thrown at there commonly in this. And it's really the philosophy that's in it more than the name.

It'll have many different names. But if you're isolating students based on their race or on their background and saying you are this because of your race or your skin color, you are this because of your background, then you know that philosophy is getting there immediately. If you're separating children as oppressed and oppressor, if you're separating parents out, you're beginning to be able to see this. Or if you're seeing that your children are being called out to be social justice warriors more than they are being trained to be able to read, write and do science and math, then you know that you're actually seeing the roots of this. They're talking about institutional change. They're talking about breaking white-centered cycles of power, all those things that you'll see in these terms that get thrown out there. But really what you're looking for is what's actually coming into your students to be taught. How does that actually affect how your family works, how your community works?

You can't see it by name. You've got to actually see your kids' homework. You've got to actually get engaged with what they're reading and what's actually being taught and to be able to be aware of that.

Let me reinforce something, and you're hitting it. My boys, who are now 21 and 19, they were blessed to go to a charter public school. And they were taught the Constitution. They read the Bill of Rights.

It was something that Gene and I were looking for. They read the classics, Plato, Aristotle. They even read the Bible as a book of ancient literature, and it was all in public school.

So it kind of reinforced where we were at. And the problem, I think one of the problems we have in public schools broadly today is they're not teaching the great basis for America, this idea of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution. Some public school students will go through their entire K through 12 and never be exposed to that.

Yeah. And part of this is this critical race theory, this belief that's out here that says that any of those classic documents were white-dominated Western culture, and they need to be set aside and to have a more modern truth and a more culturally appropriate truth. And so when they're setting aside bits of our history, picking and choosing and saying, this part of our history we're going to ignore, this part we're going to elevate, you know there's a problem. Again, it goes back to the most basic thing, parents staying engaged in their education. I go back to Deuteronomy chapter 6 and the instructions that come to parents to say, when God said to them, these commandments that I give you today are beyond your hearts, impress them on your children.

Talk about them when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down, when you get up. It is this basic teaching of your faith and who we are in real truth. You're teaching your children constantly when you're visiting with them at home, when you walk along the road, when you're in the car, when you're at a restaurant, when you're talking about homework. You as a parent have the responsibility to be able to continue to be able to reinforce truth because you won't be able to protect your children from all falsehoods.

That just won't happen. Our culture is just throwing falsehoods at our kids all the time. But the parent is the most important person in the life of the child. So for those parents and grandparents, for them to be able to impress real truth on the hearts of their children, they'll be able to see falsehoods then in the days ahead, even in the classroom. Right, and for parents to get engaged and really demand that the school teach the basics of our nation's history would be really good. Even the bad stuff, I'm good with that.

But there's so much good, there's so much good about this country, Senator. That's what I'm concerned about. Yeah, it is, and I would tell, as we've all said, get involved. I have parents all the time that'll come up to me and they'll say, what can I do to make a difference? I see all the things they're having in my culture, what can I do? I tell all of them, and they don't like it, I tell all of them, run for school board. Go get engaged, go visit with your principal, go actually sit down with a teacher, don't just let it slide.

Sit down with them and have a conversation about this. But especially running for school board. We had a school district in Oklahoma, we just had elections last month, in one of our school districts, literally no one filed even to run for school board in that particular school district. And so the school district is trying to figure out, now what do we do? No one's even filed to run for school board. Listen, we've got to have parents that are actually involved in the system. When parents get involved, run for school board, and I know it's a nuisance, and I know it's extra time and all that, but when parents get involved to be able to do those things, it really does make a difference in the education of children. Senator, let me continue on this engagement in schools. We see other examples of dangerous ideologies, such as voodoo doll making.

How about that one? Sexual poetry and sex ed, generally presented by Planned Parenthood. Now, I did an op-ed a while back, connecting the dots. I mean, who in their right mind would listen to a group benefiting from taking the life of a child? They get into your schools, your public schools, Planned Parenthood, they teach your children how to have sex, your children get pregnant, and then they'll offer to do the abortion for you for $600. I mean, this is a racket, and I don't know why we allow it. It is a racket, and it is allowed because they will step in and say, hey, we're getting federal funds in these different areas, we're getting state funds in these areas, we're already cooperating, we're going to be nonpartisan in what we're putting out, and look at this slick, well-done material. Your school and for many school districts, again, this goes back to the school board, will have a requirement to have some kind of sexual education, and the teachers will say, well, I don't want to necessarily do it, and Planned Parenthood will say, well, we've got a great curriculum that we can offer you. In fact, we can even send people in to be able to do conferences with your teachers to be able to help equip them, and we'll hand in this week-long or two-week-long curriculum that they can use.

It's slick, it's well-done, it's professional, and so just slip this ideology right in. That's how it happens. That's why it's so important that people have to be able to be engaged in school boards to be able to monitor what's actually being taught. I've had this in my own child upbringing in a really good school in a situation where my child, at one point on the first day of class in middle school, came home and we were looking through her homework and the things that she'd actually brought on assignments, and one of the assignments she had from one of her teachers was to evaluate her parents' carbon footprint.

That wasn't her family's. It was to determine your parents' carbon footprint, and the way that it was written was very clear that your parents are really bad people because this is their particular carbon footprint, and so this is why your parents are bad. I mean, it was written with such an angle to be able to say, You need to be different than your parents.

Don't be like your parents. So we sat down with the principal immediately and said, Okay, this is what you're saying. This is not about teaching about climate or about the environment. This is written in such a way to make it divisive between a child and their parent. Why would you teach it this way? And within 24 hours, my child is not in that class anymore.

I didn't have to make a big scene. I can just go in and be an engaged parent to be able to say, Not for my child. This is not going to happen. Now, again, a school board, if you're on a school board, you can actually engage to be able to say, What's going to happen? Are we going to teach that at all to any child on that? But you as a parent have just got to be able to stay involved. Yes, and again, the admonition is for us as Christians to have those families that are the great example for others to see the Lord working through our lives.

Not perfect, but certainly doing things that bring his shalom, his peace to a community. Let me ask you, Senator, turning a little bit of a corner here toward the COVID issue. The masking requirements that are being debated right now, it sounds like, again, the colleagues in the Senate and those that they represent on the Democrat side, they're just so slow when it comes to eliminating the mask requirement for these kids. It's like the kids are going to be traumatized even more when the rest of the adult world is maskless and moving away from masks. The school union, the teachers' unions are requiring these kids to continue to wear masks. Do they not get the Johns Hopkins research that says terrible damage has been done to these children and they've got to knock it off? Yeah, this is really a teachers' union issue more than anything else where the teachers' unions are saying we want to help, quote-unquote, protect our teachers from the children because the children are little germ carriers around and we want to be able to help guard our teachers from them. The children are actually facing the consequences of what the teachers' unions are actually driving across our schools. And parents even in far-left cities like San Francisco are pushing back saying enough is enough, and we're seeing this all over the country.

So this was originally pushed out to be something of a Republican-Democrat issue. It's just a parent issue is what we're really seeing is where parents are pushing back and saying in my workplace, in my recreational areas, and all the times when I go to restaurants I'm not wearing a mask all the time, but they're still being imposed on my child. And it's really an act of submission that teachers' unions are using to be able to push on to children on this. And it's not right for children.

It's certainly not lining up with what is right along with the science. But it's also something that they're using to be able to push down the parents rather than to be able to elevate the rights of the parents. So, yes, this whole issue is coming to a head on it, and we're seeing, once again, involved parents on all sides of the political spectrum getting involved to be able to push back. And it's going to be a clear statement in the years ahead as people turn around and say, what power do teachers' unions have over my children, and what power do parents have? And to go back to your original statement, the now former governor of Virginia, this was the key statement in his next campaign that he put out there was that really, teachers know best and the teachers' unions know best, and parents don't know as well. Parents just inherently know, I'm the one that's responsible for my child, and I've got to be able to help make these decisions. Hal, in that context, what can a parent do?

I think I know the answer, but, again, moms and dads are listening, Senator. If they're in that kind of context where the school is really pushing back, telling their child, and, you know, little Johnny is coming home saying, Mommy, the teacher said I have to wear a mask, what can they do? Yeah, there are a couple of things I would say. Again, from a biblical perspective, we start with prayer. If we're going back to Ephesians again in Ephesians chapter 6, that's really our first battlefield is to be able to start by praying for our teachers, praying for our administrators, praying for our children.

And so we begin in that point, and we ask God's wisdom of next steps in this. The next thing I would say from there is obviously follow God's leadership on this, but organize with other parents. Go and sit down with a teacher and an administrator. Call school board members.

They're available to you. Call those school board members saying, When are we having the vote to be able to take away all these mask mandates? Calling other parents and getting them to call school board members as well. Getting on the agenda of the school board when it actually comes up, and making sure that you're on the agenda, because many of these school boards block people out from speaking because they won't allow it to be on the agenda for the next meeting.

So you've got to call them in advance and say, I want to be on the agenda, and here's the topic is the mask mandate, to be able to get that on the agenda. And then to be able to continue to engage in such a way that's moving not just to complain, but it's moving to resolve. It's one thing to be able to gripe about an issue. It's another thing to resolve an issue. And so it's being strategic on how you're actually gathering enough people together to be able to fix the problem. Senator, let me squeeze this one in.

I know we're down to the wire here, but let me ask you. The Attorney General Garland received that note from the teachers union to look into, at a federal level, parents who are too active and maybe too robust in their debate at school board meetings and to consider them domestic terrorists. I mean, you're the senator, or you're one of 100. When you're looking at that situation, that sounds like such an egregious federal reach of power, because these are local things. Of course we don't support violence at school board meetings. Who does? But that's a local police effort that anybody demonstrating violence toward anybody needs to be taken out of the room, maybe cited, maybe jailed. Who knows? But we're talking about labeling a group of parents who are active in engaging their school boards to do the right thing, and now you've got the FBI looking at them?

Yeah, again, you started with just the exactly right spot. If there's violence against individuals, that's a local criminal issue, not a federal issue. What Merrick Garland is doing, what the FBI is doing, is that they're trying to push back parents and to say, don't organize or we will consider you a domestic terrorist. We may open a file on you and your family if you start to be able to organize and to be able to speak out. That is trying to silence individuals. That's trying to quell speech in America and to be able to use that kind of quiet threat that's out there, which I have, by the way, heard back from parents saying I was going to go speak out at one of these school board meetings, but I don't want to be labeled a terrorist.

I don't want to have an FBI file opened up on me or to have someone with the FBI knocking my door. My response to them is that is not going to happen. We're working and exposing this issue.

That is not going to happen, number one. Continue to be able to speak out. Don't let them silence you and push you into the corner and you don't speak out in school. That is, we've actually pushed this area, because it was actually the National Teachers Union, working with our Secretary of Education to create this letter to be able to get to Merrick Garland. So we've written letters, we've exposed all this, we've released it to the media, all the different aspects of this and continue to be able to push back on it. And we continue to be able to push back on the Department of Justice with oversight to be able to say, tell me what you're doing opening files on parents.

Is this really occurring? Because I want to see if they're doing it, what they're actually doing, and if they're not doing it, make parents aware. Go speak out at your school board meetings. Again, do it in a godly way. You don't have to be out of control. You don't have to be angry, yelling, and definitely never be violent to someone who's trying to resolve a problem, not create more problems. But don't allow people to be able to silence you in the process. Right, chilling that democratic process, which is that we all have a voice in the system, right?

That's the idea, at least. Senator, finally, let me ask you, the action required, is there anything the listeners, the viewers can do to support your Senate resolution? Well, this Senate resolution that we have is a very straightforward resolution, just standing against CRT, standing for the rights of parents, and standing up for the right to be able to speak out and have choice in your schools.

That should be a basic thing for every single person. So there's quite a few senators that are already on it. You can find out whether your senator is on what's called Senate Resolution 493. If they're not, you can contact your senator and say, hey, you should be on this Senate resolution supporting the rights of parents and blocking out CRT and allowing for school choice.

If they want to be able to be on that, they're welcome to be able to join us in this in the days ahead. We'll continue to be able to speak out on the rights of parents. Again, it's not a partisan issue. The rights of parents and the rights to be able to have an accurate teaching of history should not be partisan.

That should be just basic American. Senator, one of the movements that I think I'm energized by, and again, there's a lot of red states that are moving this way, I wish both blue and red would go this direction, and that is more school choice for kids. One of the saddest things I ever saw was that documentary on the lottery system, I think in Washington, D.C., where these mostly minority children and their parents were sitting waiting to see if they won the lottery, meaning they got the $7,000, $8,000 voucher to put their child in any school that they would want to put them in, including religious schools.

And the parents would weep, and the kids, 7, 8 years old, would weep as well if their name was not called, if their number was not called. And I just think, what an immoral thing to do to lock these kids into a life of poverty because they didn't have the chance to get a good, solid education. Speak to that idea of school choice and why it has power. Yes, school choice is not a radical idea. It's a basic American idea, that is, the opportunity for individuals to be able to choose the direction for their future because they're an American individual. Rather than you're born in this neighborhood or you live in this neighborhood, this is your only option. Giving that opportunity for choice opens up new opportunities for that child. Give the parent the option to be able to say, My child's going to go to a different place on this school, whether it's a voucher, whether it's an opportunity to be able to get there through a transfer program, whatever it may be.

Give that child the option. Don't just write them off saying, Someday this will get better. They don't get someday.

They only have now. Well, and that one thing would make children so much more competitive when they become young adults, when they can really function in culture and be able to do the things that businesses and science needs them to be able to do. So thank you for representing not just those in Oklahoma but for many of us Christians throughout the nation. Well, glad to be able to stay engaged on this. I encourage people to not only just be worried about these things but to actually pray about these things, be anxious about nothing but everything through prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Set your request before God. So again, I run into people all the time that just live life worried and anxious, and I say that anxiety should be pushing you towards prayer and pushing you towards doing things the right way to actually engage to be able to make a difference. There's a right thing to do and a right way to do it.

Let's go actually live our values while we're making a difference in culture. Well, that's a great final word, and thanks for your time. God bless.

God bless. Well, we certainly want to direct you to some helpful information at our website as follow-up to this very important conversation. First, we'll encourage you to contact your senator and ask them to sign on and support Senator Lankford's school choice resolution, SR 493. We talked about that today, and the information is on our website. Also, we have some great resources like Daily Citizen, which is a daily e-mail that you'll get keeping you up to date on all the things going on in the culture. And then finally, a free downloadable parent resource informing you about your child's rights in schools and a link to a video series on critical race theory that we've created. All of those details are at the website, and we've got the link in the show notes. Well, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I'm John Fuller inviting you back next time as we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. Did you know nearly 60% of American adults don't have a will in place?

That's a big number. And not having a will can leave a heavy burden for family left behind. If you need a will but don't know where to begin, let Focus on the Family help. Download our resource, 15 Questions to Ask When Preparing a Will. It's our gift to you at slash preparemywill. That's slash preparemywill.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-06-02 13:51:21 / 2023-06-02 14:04:12 / 13

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