|Victoria Cobb, President
Tuesday, February 15, 2022
We are all familiar with Winston Churchill’s 1948 speech to the House of Commons, in which he said, “those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” The debate last night over HB 1009, carried by Tara Durant (R-28, Fredericksburg), a bill to give parents the opportunity to review sexually explicit school materials, is a perfect example of this.
Delegate Alfonso Lopez (D-49, Arlington) apparently has already forgotten the political lesson from Terry McAuliffe’s comment during a 2021 gubernatorial debate that parents should not be allowed to review classroom materials or library books, a remark which sparked outrage among “school board moms” and changed the trajectory of the election. Last night during a floor debate over HB 1009, Delegate Lopez offered these remarks:
“Educators and librarians go through extensive training. They understand age appropriateness. The lowest common denominator or the loudest voices, shouldn’t be the ones dictating what’s acceptable. The selection of books for classrooms should be left to education experts, not a vocal minority group of parents.”
Once again, a politician – in this case a sitting member of the House of Delegates – has completely diminished the interests and role of parents in monitoring their children’s education. Moreover, it’s quite an elitist position to assume that educators and librarians at government run schools (funded by the taxes of every parent) are somehow more equipped than a child’s own parents to know what’s appropriate for their eyes and ears.
Delegate Lopez also argued that the review of curriculum and teaching materials should be left to local school divisions, as if the rights of parents are any less fundamental when they are ignored by their local government.
In response to this misguided narrative about local school divisions determining what’s best for children, Delegate Nick Freitas (R-30, Culpeper) defended parental rights with this retort:
“It’s amazing, because I keep hearing all these arguments about local option, local options. You want to know the most localized option you can get to is: the individual. The parent.”
When it comes to evaluating the kinds of teachings and curricula that are taught in their children’s schools, parents are the ones charged with the highest responsibility of directing the education and well-being of their children.
One thing we can agree with Delegate Lopez on is that concerned parents can be the loudest, most vocal defenders of their children when threatened by overreaching government and school boards. The 2021 elections clearly demonstrated this.
Today, HB 1009 passed the House on a party line 52 – 47 vote. This bill codifies in law the recognition that parents know their child best and must be given the chance to determine if curricula content is appropriate for their child. It now goes to the Senate, which has already passed SB 656, an identical bill.