Parental Rights

The Texas Legislature is considering many bills that would address what rights parents should have regarding their child’s education. We already have an entire chapter in the Education Code devoted to this topic, Chapter 26. The chapter is entitled Parental Rights and Responsibilities, but the content of it is strong on the rights and nonexistent on the responsibilities. That’s not to suggest that the law imposes no responsibilities on parents. It does, but they are mostly spelled out in the Family Code, not the Education Code.

Chapter 26 opens with a strong statement:

Parents are partners with educators, administrators, and school district boards of trustees in their children’s education. Parents shall be encouraged to actively participate in creating and implementing educational programs for their children.

A partnership requires that each partner do what it takes to be a good partner. A partnership implicitly calls for a certain level of trust, commitment, loyalty. A friend once told me that a successful marriage partnership could never be a 50/50 proposition. It needs to be a 100/100 deal.

In the school business, educators work every day with many parents who are terrific partners. They volunteer for the Halloween Carnival, donate to the Foundation, keep up with the child’s homework, and support the teachers and staff. However, there are other parents who fall short of that standard. Some are uninvolved. Some are antagonistic. Some take their complaints not to the principal, but to social media. What can be done about that?

I start with the idea of offering no resistance to how people are. I wish that people were different. This comes up in everyday encounters, like the person with 13 items at the “10 or fewer” line at H.E.B. It comes up at work, in the home, on I-35…everywhere. But wishing that people were different is the first level of resistance. Thinking they ought to be different is the next level. Resistance to reality, including how other people treat me, is unproductive.

All I can control is what kind of partner I am. So as we interact with parents in the process of serving their children let’s model transparency, loyalty, commitment, patience. And let’s keep an eye on the changes we will likely see in Chapter 26. There are 26 bills already introduced that address parental rights. Nine of them have “parental rights” in the title of the bill. Those are the ones to watch: HB 473, HB 631, HB 1155, HB 1541, SB 165, SB 393, SB 394, SB 421, and SB 562.


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