Americans Don’t Agree With ‘1619 Project’ Author About The Proper Role Of Parents In Education

Samuel Adams, RealClearEducation

The founder of the deeply problematic New York Times’ 1619 Project recently ignited more controversy when she made claims about who should be in charge of setting curricular standards for our nation’s students.

Speaking on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ 1619 Project founder Nikole Hannah-Jones mused: “I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught…We send our children to school because we want them to be taught by people who have an expertise in the subject area…educators who have the expertise to teach social studies, to teach history, to teach science, to teach literature. And I think we should leave that to the educators.”

There were many responses to the suggestion of eliminating parental input from education. But when it comes to who should set the educational agenda in our nation’s K-12 schools, the prevailing attitude of the American public is very clear.

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According to the August 2021 American Perspectives Survey (a poll of 2,625 adults in America, with an additional sample of 610 parents who have children below 18 years old), Americans believe that politicians shouldn’t be involved in local education decisions. They also think that teachers and parents should plan curriculum. Republicans and Democrats are able to see things from different angles when it comes to the content of classes, and the pedagogical approach. Democrats will be more open to teachers’ opinions, while Republicans favor a greater role for parents and students in educational decisions.

More specifically, 85 percent of Americans feel that teachers should exercise a lot or fair amount of influence over which subjects and how they are taught in schools. Seventy-seven per cent of Americans think parents should be allowed the same amount of influence over school curriculum. Americans think teachers have a major role to play in shaping what lessons are taught in public schools. But parents also have a significant impact on the decision-making process. Jones’s view of what parents’ proper role ought to be is simply out of sync with public sentiment.

Americans’ strong preference for parental involvement is even clearer when you consider their opinions on other actors in the education sphere. A majority of Americans believe parents should be able to influence school curriculum. However, 77% of respondents believe teachers should also have some influence. Only 33% believe the principal of the local school district and 23% believe the board should have much (21%) and 53% respectively.

Six out of ten Americans think students ought to be more involved (22%) or less (41%) in their education. A smaller number of Americans think Congress and state legislators should play a part in these decisions. Only half of Americans think Congress and state legislators should have great influence (8% vs. 7%) or fair amounts (34% vs. 30%) over public school curriculum.

These data reveal real political divides about the roles of parents and teachers in choosing what subjects to be taught in public schools.

Republicans favor a greater role for parents in decision-making, while Democrats prefer to deferring to teachers. 47% of Republicans believe that parents should have more control over the curriculum, while 26% (47%) say it is not true.

Contrary to the 32% Republicans, 52% believe teachers should exercise a lot of control over subjects taught.

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Still, Democrats as well Republics generally support both teachers and parents being able to have a major say in what subjects are taught. Ninety-one per cent of Democrats and 82% from Republicans agree that teachers should have significant influence over what subjects are taught.

At the same time, 69% of Democrats and 86% of Republicans support the idea that parents should have a great deal or a fair amount of influence in what is taught in the nation’s schools. Although there are some partisan differences, the overwhelming majority of Americans believe that both teachers and parents should be able to influence what education is given to students.

As has been the case since its inception, the people behind the New York Times’ 1619 Project have presented a distorted, factually inaccurate picture of American history and our nation’s values and attitudes.

Jones had to admit to some of these errors. Although the 1619 Project has been taught in thousands, it is still being used.

The inaccuracy of the 1619 Project makes Jones’ recent suggestion that parents should have a minimal voice in our schools all the more troubling, if not all that surprising.

Americans expect teachers to be able to collaborate with parents. It is not surprising that Jones has taught their children inaccurate and biased material.

Syndicated with permission from RealClearWire.

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