A former Michigan teacher is the latest to not get the warning signs from November 2: She tells parents to clam up about what their children are taught in school because they wouldn’t dare tell a surgeon what to do regarding their kids.
In a NBC News.com “Think” piece, Christina Wyman notes that despite the current politics surrounding things like critical race theory, parents have always tried to interfere in school curricula.
It’s something she saw during her tenure as a middle school teacher over a decade ago.
“Part of the problem is that parents think they have the right to control teaching and learning because their children are the ones being educated,” Wyman writes. “But it actually (gasp!) doesn’t work that way. It’s sort of like entering a surgical unit thinking you can interfere with an operation simply because the patient is your child.”
Wyman further compares teachers to medical professionals by saying that “teaching, too, is a science.” (This isn’t surprising; she highlights in her piece she has PhD, and her Twitter handle — like Jill Biden’s! — includes “Dr.”) “Unless they’re licensed and certified,” Wyman says, “parents aren’t qualified to make decisions about curricula.”
Parents might, after all, “attempt to influence curricula with their personal opinions, ideologies and biases.” (We know teachers would never do such a thing.)
Wyman then lays out how tough it is for teachers to become experts in their craft, like numerous degree and continuing education requirements in addition to constant professional inservices: “Which is why the ceaseless effort of parents and politicians to shape curricula by targeting book selection, the type of history taught in classrooms and even specific terms used in classrooms should be ignored,” she says.
Parents should always raise concerns when they feel emotional harm results from the curriculum or student-teacher interactions, and teachers and administrators have a responsibility to listen to their concerns and be responsive when activity in the classroom causes injury to students that’s attested to by research, such as use of the N-word and other dehumanizing language.
But short of that, parents, community members and politicians who aren’t qualified to teach should keep their noses out of school curricula. A teacher’s main goal should be to teach children to think for themselves, and parents’ dictating the curriculum interferes with the nurturing of that independence.
Given that parents’ taxes pay not only teachers’ salaries but for just about everything inside a school building, this actually gives them a certain allowance for input on what is being taught. Would Wyman’s view be tolerated with regards to private education? Doubtful. If it was, unhappy parents could walk and look elsewhere. This is not (always) the case with public schools.
Lastly, just stop with the comparison between teachers and doctors. Such arrogance does the teaching profession no favors. And for what it’s worth, Dr. Wyman, parents do have the right to tell a surgeon what to do (and not do) when it comes to their child.
IMAGE: Twitter screencap