Category Archives: Student Rights

Parental Rights: Yes. But . . . (follow-up to blog post of November 6, 2017)

In my blog of November 6 I told you about an effort to add an amendment to the Constitution of the United States designed to provide parents with explicit rights concerning the upbringing of their children.

The Parental Rights Amendment was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Congressman Randy Hultgren (R-IL 14), the lead sponsor of the resolution, and joined by 15 original cosponsors when he submitted the Amendment. The Amendment has been numbered HJ Res. 121. The Senate version, SJ Res. 48, was introduced in August by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). So, impossible as a constitutional amendment seems, it appears to be moving along.

On the surface it seems like a good idea—parents should not be denied rights concerning their children. (Remember this paragraph from my previous post? “The claim is made that ‘Laws in a majority of states limit or entirely deny to parents any ‘right’ to be present on school grounds where their child is in attendance.’ Check out the status of parental rights laws in your state.”)

However, as the title of this blog says, “But . . .”

I read the Amendment, https://parentalrights.org/amendment/ along with the “Dig Deeper” sections, and emailed ParentalRights.org about a concern I had. I wondered if the right to choose your child’s education included sending them to a Muslim school that taught Sharia law. I want to share with you the email back-and-forth that ensued. In “Dig Deeper” under Section 3 it reads:

Whenever discriminating against speech on the basis of its content, the government “must show that its regulation is necessary to serve a compelling state interest and that it is narrowly drawn to achieve that end”), and invidious discrimination against religion (see Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc., v. Hialeah, 508 U.S. 520, 546 (1993): “To satisfy the commands of the First Amendment, a law restrictive of religious practice must advance ‘interests of the highest order’ and must be narrowly tailored in pursuit of those interests.” In all these cases, the government must prove that it has a compelling interest, before the fundamental freedom at stake can be limited.

(If you don’t understand this, you are not alone. Legalese is difficult.)

The answer I received from Maggie McKneely, Director of Administration and Development stated:

Section 3 is actually designed to ensure that the government can still get involved in the case of parents who are abusive. It does not address education. However, the amendment (specifically section 2) would make it so that if a school is promoting a faith that the parent does not want taught to their child, the parent has a right override the school’s curriculum. The education that a child receives will be ultimately up to the parent and not mandated by the government. Let me know if that doesn’t answer your question!

I replied:

Thanks, Maggie, for your quick response. But no, that doesn’t answer my question. Sharia law is in conflict with the laws of our state and federal governments. If it is taught to children in school as the law(s) that should be followed, it is teaching students to act in opposition to the laws of the United States. I don’t think that is a decision that should be left to parents. All children should be taught to conduct their lives in accordance with U.S. and local laws. It should not be a “parent’s right” to educate children in this country to act against our laws. Does your proposed amendment address my concern?

Apparently my question was now above Maggie’s pay-grade as my next response came from Michael Ramey, Deputy Director of ParentalRights.org. He said:

No, the Parental Rights Amendment will not prevent parents from teaching their children laws or teachings that may disagree with the laws of the United States. This freedom of religion is a fundamental freedom that already exists in the Bill of Rights, and we do not have any desire to overthrow this fbasic [sic] American value.

Consider that if the government has the power to prevent Muslim parents from teaching Sharia law (as a theory, knowledge, ideas), it also has the power to prevent Christian parents from teaching the Bible. The law of the land now includes homosexual marriage, yet countless Christians still teach their children that marriage is between one man and one woman. Do we want a Parental Rights Amendment that will prohibit those Christian parents from teaching that because “it is teaching students to act in opposition to the laws of the United States?”

What remains protected in our Amendment, however, is the children who could be harmed by those parts of Sharia law that call for abusive actions against the child. This is because the beliefs are one thing while actions are another. Parents can teach Sharia to their children, but if the child or parent acts in a way contrary to our laws, they can be prosecuted, and this especially applies to child abuse in the name of (any) religion. The Parental Rights Amendment preserves the current role of the State in preventing and prosecuting instances of child abuse or neglect.

I am sorry if this answer disappoints you, but I think if you will look at it from all angles you may come to recognize that this is the only balance that preserves our mutual American ideals.

Remember that what is “in conflict with our state and federal governments” can be changed with a simple majority vote of Congress (or your state legislature) at any time.

If the government can legislate all that people can learn, it can legislate what they think. And if it has the power to legislate away Muslim ideas, it has the power to legislate away Christian ideas, or atheist ideas, or pagan ideas, or whatever other ideas are out of favor under a given administration. We do not want our nation to operate that way, and I hope you don’t, either.

I truly appreciate Mr. Ramey’s long and considered answer. This alone creates in me an attitude that they are trying to do what they see as necessary and beneficial in establishing the rights of parents over the various areas of the lives of their children.

But . . .

Mr. Ramey’s comparison to parents’ right to send their children to a Jewish or Christian school where they would be taught principles of that religion is specious. First, how would the government know that Sharia law was taught only as a theory, knowledge, or idea, rather than the law that must be observed by all true Muslims? Sharia is in direct opposition to the laws of our country. They are incompatible. Would children in a Muslim school be taught that?

In comparison, our Constitution is based on Judeo-Christian principles. The Supreme Court ruling he referenced regarding marriage no longer being solely between one man and one woman does not preclude such a marriage, nor does it force marriages to be between other than one man and one woman. While Jews or Christians may not agree with the decision of the Supreme Court, they have the right to try to have it overturned, and they can still live their own lives in accordance with their own religious beliefs. This is far different than would happen if Sharia law were imposed on all people.

And just to clarify Mr. Ramey’s claim that “The law of the land now includes homosexual marriage,” same-sex marriage is not a law written and approved by Congress and signed by a president. As I stated above, it has been declared a fundamental right under the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by the Supreme Court. It is a decision that can be reversed by a subsequent Supreme Court. “The law of the land” is a figure-of-speech for a matter that has been given approval by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Heritage Foundation in a report dated January 25, 2013 titled “The Constitutionality of Traditional Marriage” stated:

Because the institution of marriage is the principal manner in which society structures the critically important functions of procreation and the rearing of children, it has long been recognized as “one of the cornerstones of our civilized society.” The Supreme Court itself noted more than a century ago that “the union for life of one man and one woman” is “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization.”

Keep in mind that the acknowledgement that “the sure foundation of all that is stable and noble in our civilization” was overturned by only five people (the vote in favor of same-sex marriage was five Justices to four) out of a population of approximately 314 million.

This blog has gone on longer than I intended, but you need to know the background of my concern. Before going to the extreme of a Constitutional Amendment, we should all give the impact of such an action considerable thought. On the surface, it sounds like a really good idea to have parents in control their children’s lives, but the possible “unintended consequences” could be significant and far-reaching. If Muslim children were taught year after year that our country should be ruled by Sharia law (and how would that be known), soon those children who were so indoctrinated would be elected to positions of political power. How many generations would it take to overturn our Judeo-Christian principled laws and put Sharia in their stead?

Basically I believe what is contained in this proposed Amendment is good and helpful. But one overlooked principle could cause tremendous damage. What do you think? Pass this information on to your friends and ask them their opinion. Let me know. The time to investigate this amendment thoroughly, with all its ramifications, is now before the boulder starts its roll downhill and can’t be stopped.

Parental Rights: Do You Have Any?

ParentalRights.org is organizing a campaign to clarify this parental rights matter. They are trying to get an Amendment to the U. S. Constitution that will define parental rights. Here is a ParentalRights.org video you may find interesting. As it stands now, you may not have the right to make decisions for your child in many instances.

Let’s take a look at some defining court cases.

Did you know that your rights as a parent end when your kids go through the schoolhouse door? In the Fields v. Palmdale School District (PSD) lawsuit the United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit, in November 2005, decided that issue as regards sex education:

In summary, we hold that there is no free-standing fundamental right of parents “to control the upbringing of their children by introducing them to matters of and relating to sex in accordance with their personal and religious values and beliefs” . . . We conclude only that the parents are possessed of no constitutional right to prevent the public schools from providing information on that subject to their students in any forum or manner they select. (Emphasis added.)

That court also stated parents’ “fundamental right to control the education of their children is, at the least, substantially diminished.” (Please read Chapter Ten in Who’s Got Dibs on Your Kids? for more information on parental rights.)

Created by the Intellectual Freedom Committee 2005-2007, Association for Library Service to Children, a Division of the American Library Association

And in Troxel v. Granville (2000) the Supreme Court tossed a parental rights issue to individual judges and states to apply their own rules to parental rights. I find it astonishing that Justice Antonin Scalia determined that parents have no constitutionally protected rights whatsoever. Only Justice Thomas clearly stated that parental rights receive the same high legal standard of protection as other fundamental rights. However, even that statement is ambiguous because I can find no clear statement (although there may be such a statement that I haven’t found) of exactly what your “fundamental rights” as parents are.

The claim is made that “Laws in a majority of states limit or entirely deny to parents any ‘right’ to be present on school grounds where their child is in attendance.” Check out the status of parental rights laws in your state.

God’s commandments include one to children: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you” (Exodus 20:12 NIV). But Scripture also gives parents instructions: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

The Bible is full of blessings and admonitions regarding the responsibilities of both children and parents: “My son, do not forget my teaching, but keep my commands in your heart” (Proverbs 3:1). “Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion?” (Luke 11: 11-12). Is what is being taught in many public schools the equivalent of giving your child a snake or a scorpion?

Ask yourself if parents’ rights (and obligations as Christian parents) have been given over to the government, or taken from them by the government. If that has happened, is an amendment to our Constitution the best way to correct that?

I’ll be interested in hearing from you whether you think establishing parental rights by means of a Constitutional Amendment is a good idea.

Textbook Reviewers Wanted

Volunteer to read textbooks

It won’t come as a surprise to those of you who have read my book Who’s Got Dibs on Your Kids? or have been followers of my blog, but our kids’ textbooks are in real trouble. Some concerned people have been taking steps to correct this.

In Florida they formed the Florida Citizens’ Alliance, with the stated focus to “Stop Federal Overreach and Restore Our Individual Rights, Guaranteed Under The Constitution.” They were serious. They encouraged all residents of Collier County to attend a school board meeting in June stating: “THIS IS NOT A PARTISAN ISSUE. IT IS ABOUT OUR CHILDREN’S FUTURE, following  FLORIDA LAWS and  adopting FACTUAL, UNBIASED  TEXTBOOKS that are not used to indoctrinate our children. We need a large turnout and your collective voice to adopt ONLY the highest quality textbooks!”

Their efforts were not in vain. They played a big part in getting the Florida legislature to pass SR 989, requiring school districts to allow “a resident of a county to challenge the use or adoption of instructional materials; revising the requirements relating to the district school board process for objecting to or appealing the use or adoption of instructional materials; requiring a school district to discontinue use of materials under certain circumstances; requiring sufficient procedural protections for a public hearing relating to a challenge to the adoption of instructional materials; requiring a school district to provide access to school library materials upon written request” along with other changes in the existing law.

Similar laws are being passed in other states and The Report Card is looking for volunteers to read and review these textbooks. The Report Card has formed a partnership with Truth in Textbooks (TNT) (formerly known as Truth in Texas Textbooks TTT) founded by Lt. Col. Roy White, USAF Ret.

TNT is made up of volunteers, and has had great success conducting the necessary research and lobbying influence at local and state levels in eliminating or correcting many falsehoods found in the US History, World History, U.S. Government, and Geography textbooks. Publishers of textbooks reviewed by TNT include Pearson, Worldview, McGraw Hill, Discovery Education, Houghton Mifflin, Perfection, and Cengage. You’ll find their report on Social Studies Textbooks, Summary of Proclamation 2015 interesting reading. It is a PDF colored chart that gives the publisher, %TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills), their grade, and the criteria used for the evaluation. With only 50 volunteers in 2014, they identified more than 1500 errors in the proposed social studies textbooks. After studying the 469-page report and hearing testimony, the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE) eliminated or corrected more than 60% of the errors before the books were accepted for use in the classrooms. “As a result, over 5 million children have more accurate textbooks as a result of the work of Truth in Textbooks and their volunteers.”

Learn more about this program at The Report Card article “History, Social Studies Textbook Reviewers Wanted.” You can make a difference!

The First Amendment – Hide and Seek

I know I had it. Did I lose it?

“I know I put that somewhere. Where could it be?”

We’ve all probably said that more than once. We had something. It was important. But now it seems lost—forever? Most things we usually locate again. If you’re like my husband and me, the thing we’re searching for could be in a completely ridiculous place, like airplane glue in the vegetable drawer of the refrigerator. Or right in front of our eyes, and we simply do not see it until someone says, “Is this what you’re looking for? It’s right here!”

It seems our First Amendment has done a disappearing act, too. Oh, everybody knows there is a First Amendment, and many know vaguely that it refers to freedom of speech and religion, but more and more that’s as far as knowledge goes. This is very apparent from what we’re seeing happen on our college campuses. Certain speakers cannot be invited to speak on campus, or their invitation is withdrawn after being accepted. The reason often given now is “a matter of public safety.” Students are rioting if someone with ideas they differ with dares to show up. They claim their riotous behavior is allowed under the First Amendment. Where did these young people learn the meaning of the First Amendment? From their parents? In middle school or high school? Or were they ever taught anything about it at all except what they picked up from the public rhetoric of people with an agenda?

People other than me were wondering about this, too. Brookings Institution published a survey of undergrads designed to find out how they viewed their rights under the First Amendment. You can read all about it here, but let me share a few of the results.

The term “odious” is rightfully used for what is designated as “hate speech,” but Americans can use that type of language to their hearts content, for it is protected speech under the First Amendment. However the study revealed that only 39% of those surveyed knew it was protected—44% said it wasn’t, and 16% simply didn’t know.

A question asked if an on-campus organization hosting an event is legally required to ensure that the event includes not only the speaker some consider offensive, but also a speaker who presents an opposing view—62% said “Yes” and 38% “No.” The First Amendment has no such requirement.

The majority of students (51%) also believed it was acceptable to shout and be disruptive when opposed to the ideas of a speaker, even to the point that the audience cannot hear the speaker. A FIRE (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education) website article says that while a heckling shout is permissible, “Make no mistake: When a heckler thinks he or she has the right to forcibly prevent others from hearing a speaker and uses heckling as a blunt instrument to silence speech, heckling cannot be condoned as free expression.”

It gets worse. When asked if they agreed or disagreed that it is acceptable to use violence to prevent the speaker from speaking, 19% said that was acceptable behavior. John Villasenor, who conducted the survey, wrote:

These results are notable for several reasons. First, the fraction of students who view the use of violence as acceptable is extremely high. While percentages in the high teens and 20s are “low” relative to what they could be, it’s important to remember that this question is asking about the acceptability of committing violence in order to silence speech. Any number significantly above zero is concerning. (Emphasis added.)

Please, parents, if your kids are starting college, warn them about their rights under our Constitution. Don’t let them get misled and in trouble with the law because “everybody’s doing it.” If your kids are younger, teach them now to respect our Constitution, and honor the Bill of Rights. If you don’t, they may never learn about that in school.

And another suggestion: let them know that obscenity may not be protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court has a lot to say about that. If more of the public, including high-profile entertainers and TV opinion shows, knew they could be prosecuted for foul language, maybe we wouldn’t have to listen to all the bleep-outs in the evening news.

Let me know if your kids are learning about the Constitution and the Bill of Rights in school.

Back-to-School: Getting Ready

Back-to-School Time

It’s back-to-school time. Where did the summer go? Whether you have your first child starting kindergarten or a whole crew, you’ve probably started making a list of what needs to be done. New clothes, crayons, pencils, notebooks, haircuts. Decisions: Drive or ride the bus? Pack a lunch or eat in the school cafeteria? Are new rules needed for homework, bedtime, social media, extra-curricular activities? Wow, there’s a lot to do!

Hang on, because I’m going to throw some more at you. You’re probably familiar with the plethora of forms that come home for you to sign. They maybe about school health responsibilities, school policies, field trips, on and on. Here’s what you need to know and do (or not do) with those forms.

• Pay attention to them.
• Don’t ignore them or let them get lost.
• Don’t sign one unless you know exactly what it is you are agreeing to.
• Be sure your kids bring home and hand to you every form they’re given at school.
• Be aware some may need you to write an extra note above your signature.

Read all forms carefully and ask for “opt-out” forms

Why am I sounding so serious about those pesky forms? It’s because a lot of kids have been hurt by a parent’s innocent permission given to the school.

Read the forms you are provided regarding health care very carefully. You don’t want to think you are giving the school nurse permission to provide an aspirin for a headache when you are in fact giving the school carte blanche discretion regarding any health matters. Just such a form was used by a school to help a girl obtain an abortion, completely without her parents’ knowledge, much less approval.

Another instance is the case of a Minnesota school district providing sex change treatment for a seventeen-year-old male student without informing the mother.

Making a decision about field trips used to be a breeze. “Hey Mom, we going to ________(fill in the blank,) Here’s a form for you to sign. You sign it and mark the date on the calendar. In today’s world you’d better ask a few questions about where the kids are going, and what’s going to happen. Some field trips have been to an Islamic mosque where the girls had to wear the Muslim head covering and all had to kneel in the prayer position before “Allah.”

Are your kids in an extra-curricular performing arts program at school? Keep an eye on the choices of material. The Pioneer Valley Performing Arts (PVPA) School in South Hadley, Massachusetts was deluged with complaints when parents and others in the community-at-large learned the play The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told would not be a take-off of The Greatest Story Ever Told, but rather a lampoon of Genesis—the story of Adam and Steve.

While many schools used to make an opt-in form available, few now use anything but the opt-out form. That means if you don’t keep an eye on what you’re giving permission for, you will not have your complaints given much consideration if something is offered that you find offensive. And many times if you don’t get the form back to the school by the required date, the school has the right to make the assumption that you don’t wish to opt out.

Also keep your eye open for “special” days such as “Pink Shirt Day” that supports homosexuality, “Coming Out Day” promoting gay and lesbian ideals, “Earth Day” that promotes the green agenda and worship of Mother Earth, also known as Gaia.

Earth Day

That last one, “Earth Day,” may be a surprise that it is something to be concerned about. That’s probably because you aren’t aware of what your kids are being taught about this at school. The website “All for Gaia—Earth Day and Total Transformation” says”

In our contemporary era, Earth Day has become the modern celebration of Gaia. Partakers of this event, whether aware of it or not, play off the ancient pagan beliefs of a Universal Mother. Like the sacred oaths taken in her name, today’s Earth Day celebrants sign environmental petitions, make pledges, and announce resolutions in support of Mother Earth. And like the old sacrifices to the deity, today’s Earth Day practitioners offer sacrifices of “good works” to the planet. Not only is the Earth a deity to be venerated, but the Earth itself – as the representative and embodiment of the Goddess – has become a modern day idol.

That website also contains a quote from the blog of John Kerry, former Secretary of State that reads:

Earth is more than just a spaceship. She is our Mother. She gave us life. There is nowhere else to go but to stay and love her.

If you would like a copy of the chapter on parents’ rights from my book, Who’s Got Dibs on Your Kids?, use my contact form and let me know. I’ll email you a link to download it.