Think Freely Media presents Common Sense with Paul Jacob

Parents in Context

education, parents, children, Virginia, freedom

Consider the intersection of freedom and decontextualized fragments.

The specific “decontextualized fragments” in question appear in great and not-so-great works of literature, assigned in public schools for young adults to read: a graphic rape scene in Toni Morrison’s Beloved; racial slurs in Huckleberry Finn; sex, violence.

“Virginia regulators are drafting rules that would require school districts to red-flag objectionable teaching material and make it easier for parents to control what books their children see in the classroom,” reports the Washington Post.

Those regulations won’t be finalized for a year or more (because government bureaucracies are painfully slow). Yet an “earlier version of the language released on a state website drew hundreds of comments from the public,” the Post informs.

“Most parents were supportive of the change. . . .”

Teachers? Against.

Stafford County Public Schools literacy coordinator Sarah Crain worries about literature being wrongly labeled “sexually explicit.” To “reduce a book or a work down to something that is a mere decontextualized fragment of the work,” she argues, “actually impedes the ability for teachers and parents to have informed conversations.”

What about freedom?

Well, public schools aren’t primarily about freedom.

Teachers have a job to do; students follow instruction.

And it is pretty easy to see one reason for the opposition by “the professionals”: the new rules would entail more work.

Nonetheless, parents and their kids deserve as much choice as can be provided. And in every context.

Here, freedom means acknowledging the right of parents to decide. Not experts. Parents.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

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education, parents, children, Virginia, freedom


Original photo credit: wealhtheow on Flickr


By: CS Admin


  1. Brian wright says:

    The state and education do not belong together, and actually compulsory schools are best thought of as high crime assaults on the people… with the perpetrators no longer available for prosecution. 1

  2. Pat says:

    If parents want the freedom to decide what their children will read, perhaps they should become the teachers. As the saying goes…if you want it done right, do it yourself!
    Parents who want to limit what their children see in the classroom might be putting them at a disadvantage. Does withholding knowledge really help them? It may be ‘freedom’ for the parents but what benefit is gained by shielding children from the truth of the world as it is (warts and all), even if it is not as their parents wish it to be?

  3. Lynn Atherton Bloxham says:

    Brian: Totally on point. My position for the last couple of decadrs is that public schools are breathing their final gasp. The internet will be the new school house with many variations of smaller voluntary and innovative applications  Thank goodness as it is overdue. 

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