Opinion: Parents, teachers should fight back against intrusive government interference

Being a parent of a school-aged child has never been easy, but in Texas today, a barrage of intrusive and discriminatory legislation has driven a wedge between parents and teachers. 

Last year, the state passed laws against teachers holding racial discussions in classrooms and followed up with parents and politicians demanding book bans. 

Now, teachers are pitted against parents as they were required to report transgender children because Gov. Greg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton have declared it abuse under the law. 

The complicated nature of the relationship among parents, teachers and the state has a certain effect on parents. Regarding the decision to ban racial conversations in Texas classrooms, politicians stirred up fears among certain groups of parents and garnered their support in return, gaining enough power to push their agenda. Politicians essentially divided parents and conquered. 

In the middle of it all, teachers were being censored in the classroom while enduring parents and politicians trying to dictate what they teach. Children are observing as the role models and authorities in their lives battle over them. As parents, we can do better and be the stronger and fairer power broker in this tug-of-war. 

Instead of supporting divisive and dangerous politicians, parents should support and empower teachers. 

This is one of the best ways parents can provide for our children — to support the village that raises them. 

While politicians try to scare their constituents into thinking that teachers are instructing children on critical race theory, teachers will remind us that this isn’t happening, and nobody should let these fears open the door to more regulations that inhibit their ability to educate. 

Politicians continue to use schools as the battleground to divide parents and teachers by encouraging the book banning. Although no official statewide ban exists, Abbott issued a memo last year directing the Texas Education Agency to shield children from pornographic books in schools. State Rep. Matt Krause compiled a list of 850 books that he deemed inappropriate because they dealt with racism or sexuality and demanded that schools look into it.

Parents need to support school librarians’ efforts to reject censorship and allow them to do their job of providing book options for everyone. Parents should be a partner with their children’s teachers and school librarians, not a co-conspirator with shady politicians who leverage groups of people against each other under the guise of protecting children.

Abbott’s new directive to single out transgender children and report their parents for child abuse is the latest bullet aimed at breaking relationships among students, teachers and parents. The state has weaponized teachers to impose discriminatory standards against already marginalized children and families. Once again, they are breaking down the pillars within our communities: teachers and parents working together to raise and educate children. 

If there was ever a time for teachers and parents to band together, it is now, against this discriminatory behavior from our elected officials. With all the burdens raining down on a teaching workforce that is already beaten down from two years of pandemic, it is no wonder that Texas is seeing a decline in the number of teachers. Parents can step up and help power a shift toward inclusive, safe classrooms with teachers uplifted by the communities, taking the power away from those who would do more harm. 

Politicians are only as powerful as the people who keep them in power through elections, and parents need to make a plan to eliminate predatory politicians. Not only should parents actively reject them at the polls, but they also need to carefully align with the people in power who will, in turn, empower parents, teachers and children. November elections are coming soon, and voting in a way that promotes the best interests of students, parents and teachers is key to starting some real change. 

Parents are the ultimate role models with the power to raise a generation of good humans. 

Let’s support the people who nourish our children’s minds through education and oppose the politicians who try to divide us and gain power at the expense of our children and their future.

@therealjillbold 

managing-editor.shorthorn@uta.edu

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