Opinion

Americans Don’t Agree With ‘1619 Project’ Author About The Proper Role Of Parents In Education

By Samuel Adams for RealClearEducation

The founder of the deeply problematic New York Times’ 1619 Project recently ignited more controversy when she made claims about who should be in charge of setting curricular standards for our nation’s students.

Speaking on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones mused: “I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught…We send our children to school because we want them to be taught by people who have an expertise in the subject area…educators who have the expertise to teach social studies, to teach history, to teach science, to teach literature. And I think we should leave that to the educators.”

Unsurprisingly, there were numerous reactions to the idea of marginalizing parental input in education. But when it comes to who should set the educational agenda in our nation’s K-12 schools, the prevailing attitude of the American public is very clear.

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The August 2021 American Perspectives Survey, a survey of 2,625 American adults, including an oversample of 610 parents with children under age 18, reveals that Americans overwhelmingly believe politicians should stay out of local education decisions and that curricular planning should be left up to teachers and parents. However, when considering the content of classes and pedagogical approach, Republicans and Democrats have somewhat different perspectives. Democrats are far more willing to defer to teachers, while Republicans want a much larger role for parents in education decisions.

More specifically, 85% of Americans believe that teachers should have a great deal or a fair amount of control over what subjects are taught in public schools and how these subjects are covered. Seventy-seven percent of Americans say parents should have the same level of influence in school curricula. In the minds of Americans, teachers are central in deciding what is taught in public schools, but so are parents. Jones’s view of what parents’ proper role ought to be is simply out of sync with public sentiment.

Americans’ strong preference for parental involvement is even clearer when you consider their opinions on other actors in the education sphere. While 77% believe that parents should have the same level of influence as teachers in school curricula, a far lower percentage believe that the local school board and the school principal should have a great deal (23% vs. 21%) or a fair amount (53% vs. 49%) of influence regarding what subjects are covered and how they are taught.

More than six in 10 Americans say the students themselves should have a great deal (22%) or a fair amount (41%) of involvement. Fewer Americans believe Congress or state legislators should have a role in making these decisions. Less than half of Americans believe state legislators or Congress should have a great deal (8% vs. 7%) or a fair amount (34% vs. 30%) of influence over public school curriculum.

The data show real political divisions over the role of teachers versus parents in deciding what to teach in public schools.

Republicans want a much larger role for parents in the decision-making process, whereas Democrats are more likely to defer to teachers. Almost half (47%) of Republicans say parents should have a great deal of say over curriculum decisions, while only 26% of Democrats say the same.

Conversely, 52% of Democrats say teachers should have a great deal of influence over what subjects are taught, compared to only 32% of Republicans.

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Still, Democrats and Republics are generally supportive of both parents and teachers having a significant say over what subjects are taught. Ninety-one percent of Democrats and 82% of Republicans say teachers should have a great deal or fair amount of influence in deciding what is taught in the classroom.

At the same time, 69% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans support the idea that parents should have a great deal or a fair amount of influence in what is taught in the nation’s schools. While there is a slight partisan divide here, it is clear that the majority of all Americans, regardless of party, believe both parents and teachers should have a voice in determining what is taught to our students.

As has been the case since its inception, the people behind the New York Times’ 1619 Project have presented a distorted, factually inaccurate picture of American history and our nation’s values and attitudes.

Even Jones herself was compelled to admit some of those errors. Nevertheless, the 1619 Project is being taught in thousands of schools.

The inaccuracy of the 1619 Project makes Jones’ recent suggestion that parents should have a minimal voice in our schools all the more troubling, if not all that surprising.

Americans want teachers to work in conjunction with parental input. The fact that biased and inaccurate material like that authored by Jones is being taught to their children is no doubt one reason why.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

RealClearWire

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