Parents of elementary school children in California were upset that their kids were the targets of a sex survey conducted by the Palmdale School District. The survey, distributed in 2002, focused on how often prepubescent school kids thought about sex and touched themselvesyou know, just the kind of things educators need to know to in order to effectively teach reading, writing and math skills.
The parents filed a lawsuit, claiming that the survey "violated parents' substantive due process and privacy rights." Last week, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in Fields v. Palmdale School District, dismissed the suit, saying:
We agree, and hold that there is no fundamental right of parents to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children, either independent of their right to direct the upbringing and education of their children or encompassed by it. We also hold that parents have no due process or privacy right to override the determinations of public schools as to the information to which their children will be exposed while enrolled as students. Finally, we hold that the defendants' actions were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose.The court's ruling certainly seems like a violation of the rights and privileges of parents. But is it really? First of all, the court's ruling does not create law. The Palmdale School Board can still be pressured to end such ridiculous practices. Secondly, the parents who are complaining have already shown that they do not hold the education of their children in high regard.
I know this sounds harsh, but while I sympathize for the children, it's difficult to feel sorry for the parents. After all, they were the ones who turned custody of their children over to the government school system for six or seven hours a day, five days a week. Were they really all that surprised when the schools tried to undermine their parental authority?
By placing your child in the care of a government-run indoctrination center, you are saying that you trust the government to raise your child, essentially giving up your due process and privacy rights. You are admitting that the government is able to give your child something you cannot provide. When you consider how poorly the government manages everything else, why would any reasonable person think things would be different when it comes to education?
Note that the Ninth Circuit believes the school district's actions "were rationally related to a legitimate state purpose." In other words, those in control of public education have but one concern: the welfare of the state. Seeing to it that your child receives a quality education can only conflict with that.
There really isn't any way to sugar-coat this, so I'll just come right out and say it: If you willingly submit your child to the trappings of the government school system, then you have no right to complain about what they are taught. It would be like sending your kid off to play in oncoming traffic, expressing shock and outrage and blaming someone else when he was struck by a car. Sure, you can try to be involved by going to parent-teacher conferences, attending PTA meetings or getting elected to the school board, but when you get right down to it, you are in control of the education of your child.
My wife and I are in the process of adopting a little girl from China. This will be our first child, and even though it will be about a year before we travel to China to get her, we are preparing our home for her arrival. One of our main concerns is her future education. We are still weighing options, but one thing we know for certain is that she will never see the inside of a government school classroom. Why would we rescue her from a lifetime of socialist, atheist indoctrination in one country just so she can have the same experience on the other side of the world? Believe me; if that was our goal, it would be cheaper, less stressful and much easier just to leave her where she is.
For Christian parents, education is a tremendous responsibility. Believers have a duty to ensure that their children received a God-centered education. Scripture says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7a). Why settle for anything less?