For ten years, I was a dedicated public school mom—volunteering in the classroom, starting the campus composting program, and more. I enjoyed the community and was sure that no other experience of education could be as rewarding. But when I pulled my child out of public school in 2021, I joined a culturally diverse, highly social community of homeschoolers in New York City. I didn’t expect the political and philosophical views of my fellow homeschooling parents to be so wide-ranging. Whether liberal or conservative, Christian or Jewish or atheist, homeschooling parents run the gamut. They embrace or avoid “preferred pronouns”; they follow strict curricula or practice “unschooling”; they are gay, straight, Hispanic, black, Asian, or white; they hail from every possible socioeconomic class.
What all homeschooling parents share in common, though, is that we put the well-being of our children first and believe that we know best how to guide their education. We don’t all have to believe the same things, and we don’t need the state to dictate the terms of our peaceable coexistence. Public institutions and politicians have betrayed our trust. This November, I’ll enter a polling booth to voice my discontent with the education system. I predict that many parents will do the same.
I’m an artist and environmentalist who believes strongly in social welfare, and I’ve been an activist against Donald Trump and for racial equality. But no longer will I follow party lines unthinkingly. I will vote against politicians who put children last during the pandemic—interrupting their educations with masking, social distancing, and arbitrary quarantining rules. Years of learning were lost, the effects of which will be seen for years to come, widening the gap between rich and poor. Toddlers were kept masked for weeks after masks had been dropped for everyone else, while certain politicians posed smilingly in front of faceless youngsters. Homeschooling mothers have varying ideas on the Covid measures. But all will become single-issue voters if anyone tries to take away their right to educate their children according to their own values, standards, and ethics.
I will not be alone in voting against a governor who has stood silent as the state seeks to enforce substantial equivalency for nonpublic schools, making all nonpublic schools conform to public school standards—endangering the autonomy of many religious and independent schools.
I will also be voting against the many Democratic state assembly and state senate members who support A6616, which promises to mandate comprehensive sexuality education for kindergarten through twelfth grade. As a mother, when it comes to issues like sexuality, violence, religion, and politics, I want to be the one determining what my child is exposed to and under what terms. This proposed law epitomizes state overreach. It risks exposing and acclimatizing children to mature content before they are ready for it.
Another proposed bill (again sponsored by Democrats) should alarm parents. Bill A09963 “authorizes minors to consent to medical, dental, health, mental health or hospital services if they comprehend the need for, the nature of, and the reasonably foreseeable risks and benefits involved, as well as any alternatives thereto.” My daughters are responsible and self-aware. But they are minors, unaware of every last detail of their medical history. As their mother, I am responsible for their well-being. This bill not only abrogates parental rights but also gives medical institutions more power over my child than I hold myself.
The disturbing scenarios described above could become reality. Parents should come together across their disparate political and cultural tribes and stand against those who seek to undermine our families and our freedom.
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