An opinion piece in NBC News’ THINK on Thursday sparked a Twitter debate after insinuating that parents were unqualified to intervene in their child’s school curriculum.
The piece, titled “Schools face parents who want to ban critical race theory—and don’t get how teaching works,” details some instances that parents are getting involved in schools, such as trying to ban critical race theory or complaining about sexually explicit school library books. The author, Christina Wyman, suggests that parents who try to influence the school curriculum are actually harming their kids.
Wyman, a former middle school teacher, says that parents have tried for years to shape school curricula, which she saw during her time teaching in the mid-2000s. She says parents gave their thoughts on just about anything she was teaching, such as test questions or book choices. She mentions that this issue stems from parents thinking they can get involved just because their children are the ones getting educated.
“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.”
“Teaching, too, is a science,” she continues. “Unless they’re licensed and certified, parents aren’t qualified to make decisions about curricula. In fact, parental interference can actually hinder student advancement. An educator’s primary goal is to teach students to think. Parents who attempt to influence curricula with their personal opinions, ideologies and biases hinder that goal.”
Wyman goes on to describe the length of schooling she had to undergo—as do other teachers—just to teach kids in school. The reason, she explains, is so teachers can become experts in the field. She points out that anyone can have an opinion on a topic, but not everyone can teach it.
“As a professor of teacher education and someone who works with teachers in classrooms, I can say with authority that our nation’s children are in good, educated and capable hands—no matter what some parents and politicians appear determined to believe,” she says.
Wyman does admit that there are bad teachers—like one scenario where a teacher asked students to find the good things about slavery, or another situation where a school board asked teachers to teach both sides of the Holocaust.
Wyman continues by saying that teachers using “dehumanizing language” like the N-word could call for parental involvement. But other than that, she says parents need to stay out of the way for the good of their children.
Users hurried to Twitter to share their agreement with Wyman’s piece.
“I know this is difficult for parents to hear, but it’s true,” wrote one user. “Teachers are highly trained, are required to maintain licensure thru required professional development, are legally responsible for your child well fair [sic] while in school and professionals. They are not your babysitters.”
“She’s right and people suck at noticing that many parents are too ignorant and incompetent to have a meaningful grasp of their children’s actual best interests and needs,” shared another.
Those who oppose Wyman’s piece also shared their strong thoughts.
“It’s genuinely NOT like that at all,” one user shared. “It’s sort of like entering a surgical unit to stop an elective surgery you had not approved of because the patient is your child.”
“This is literally how parenthood works; you get to decide which medical procedures your kids have, and when, and by whom, and in which hospital. (And sure, expert advice is part of that equation.)” wrote another user.
Wyman has since defended her piece, but that hasn’t slowed the criticism.
What do you think of Wyman’s op-ed in NBC’s THINK?