Former Governor and current candidate for Governor Terry McAuliffe recently said during a debate “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” He could not be more wrong!
While in Virginia public school curriculum is established by the state Department of Education and local school divisions teach that curriculum, it is imperative parents play a critical role in their children’s education. In turn it is imperative local School Boards and members of School Boards listen to and don’t silence parents.
Members of School Boards have a lot of decisions to make. Sometimes they are easy decision, sometimes they are hard decisions. No matter what they should always include input from parents. In my previous service on the School Board I would always seek out input from all stakeholders, including parents. Communication is an important aspect of public service. That’s why I always tried to communicate though as many means as possible about as much as possible.
When elected officials turn off the spigot of information to and from stakeholders it’s a recipe for bad decision making. This has been the case in Stafford schools over the last four years. The current School Board doesn’t have a single member with a child in Stafford County schools. While they may get input from parents of children in our schools they lack the first hand knowledge, and as a whole they don’t have diversity in decision making when it comes to the parent experience. To make matters worse, at least in the Falmouth District, there is very little in communication to and from the School Board with parents.
Just before the school year began the School Board decided, with strong support from Falmouth incumbent member Sarah Chase, to mandate masks for all students in schools. While many parents spoke, asking for parental choice with regards to kids wearing masks, the Board moved forward with a mask mandate.
With the protocols still in place schools have not been able to hold normal student events such as Homecoming dances. A couple of weeks ago, several parents whose children attend Stafford High School took it upon themselves to organize a private Homecoming dance held at a local fire station. Despite the event being a privately held event, organized by parents, Chase made attempts to have the event cancelled, even calling on county officials to shut it down.
Parents should be the primary decision makers in children’s lives. Parent voices must be heard by the School Board. It’s time to bring back the voice of parents to our School Board. If elected I will, as I did before, always seek seek input from parents on all decisions made.
Ignoring parents and making decisions based on politics is a sure fire way to make a bad decision.