I firmly believe that parents want the best for their children and, more importantly, know what is best for their children; at least better than a bureaucrat. It used to be a universally accepted principle – the idea that parents should have more voice and more control over their children’s education.
But in recent years, we have seen federal, state and local officials attack this presumption and try to freeze parents from educating their children. Unlike former Virginia Gov. Terry McCaliff, who sadly said, “I don’t think parents should tell schools what they should teach,” I firmly believe that it is the duty of parents to take care of their children’s education. I don’t think it’s the task of the state to raise parents. It is expected that parents will do their best for their children and their education.
That’s why Missouri leaders continue to push for education reforms that allow families to make choices about their children’s education. A few years ago, Missouri passed a law that establishes the option of a fully virtual public school where a family can recall their student from their brick public school and transfer them to virtual learning. This option, the Missouri Virtual School Access Program and Virtual School (MOCAP), provides an alternative to families who are desperate to protect their children’s education. It is important that the school district would have to pay for this option because it is a public education and the family is eligible to enjoy tax dollars.
Many families choose this option because of fears of bullying or because their child has special learning needs or medical needs that the personal environment simply cannot meet. Whatever the reason, parents have the right to choose a state-funded virtual option for their children if they believe it is in their child’s best interests.
But, as we have seen with other reforms, school districts and some “bad apple” superintendents are finding ways to pump up the gaps and families aspiring to this option. Not all schools have done this, but they need to bring to justice the districts that are doing this to fix this ship. Parents should have unimpeded access to this program, and school districts should respect the wishes of parents and approve their children to participate in the program. Instead, some caregivers seem to play the role of caretakers – they refuse to approve a child in the MOCAP without showing the parents a good reason.
Instead of trusting the parents ’desire to choose the type of public education they like, these lousy overseers seem to think the law instructs bureaucrats to have the final say in a child’s education. This is not true at all.
Families should not stay cold about their child’s education, and should not wait for long delays or hearings on evidence before gaining approval. The current resistance from some school districts should stop, and parental control should return to education. Either the Missouri General Assembly needs to act – and rest assured you’ll see that I’m talking more about the issue – or Gov. Mike Parson needs to use his executive powers to get DESE to implement an emergency waiver for families so they can start access to MOCAP.
Contrary to what some big government hooligans and bureaucrats think, parents are not morons or “domestic terrorists,” as the National Association of School Councils describes them, for caring about their children’s well-being. MOCAP is a choice that our state gives to families, and families should have every right to access this program if they believe it is in the best interests of their child.
Senator Cindy O’Loughlin is a Republican representing SD 18. She is chair of the Senate Education Committee.