- - Saturday, August 22, 2020

Ever wonder how we got to this point? How did a nation that defined itself with the superlatives, “land of the free and the home of the brave,” “America the Beautiful“ and “one nation under God” turn into a broken culture with no boundaries, no borders, no law, no order and no soul so fast?   

How did we lurch from being the United States into a divided people so quickly?

Where did this all come from: the vitriol and vice, the anger and hatred, the looting, the riots, the destruction, the nihilistic confusion, the science-denying gender-bending sexuality, the suicidal infatuation with socialism, the adolescent whining for safety rather than freedom? 

How in the world did these demons possess our national body politic in what seems to be just the blink of an eye? 

The answer may be closer than you think. It might be right there at your kitchen table or on the couch right beside you. Just look over your son’s or daughter’s shoulder, and you might find the answer.

On Aug. 10, Matthew Kay, a Philadelphia teacher, wondered openly on Twitter how he and his fellow teachers would cope with an unwanted intrusion in this new era of online education. In his post, Mr. Kay, who teaches English at the Science Leadership Academy, a Philadelphia public school, expressed his concern about the “damage” that “parents” might cause if they overheard the lessons he had prepared for their children. 

“So, this fall, virtual class discussion will have many potential spectators in the same room,” said Mr. Kay. “We’ll never be quite sure who is overhearing the discourse. What does this do for our equity/inclusion work? How much have students depended on the … secure barriers of our physical classrooms to encourage vulnerability?”

Mr. Kay then described how “conservative parents” are his chief concern when he and his fellow teachers are engaging “in the messy work of destabilization.” “While conversations about race are in my wheelhouse, and remain a concern in this no-walls environment,” he said, “I am most intrigued by the damage that ‘helicopter/snowplow’ parents can do in the conversations about gender/sexuality. If we are engaged in the messy work of destabilizing a kid’s racism or homophobia or transphobia — how much do we want … parents piling on?”

Welcome to the reeducation camp of Mr. Kay, where any parental attempt to challenge the explicit racism of critical race theory and the empirical banality of gender fluidity is labeled as “piling on.” 

“Oh, but this is just one crazy liberal teacher,” you say. “You’ve cherrypicked one extreme anecdote. This is an anomaly. It is surely the exception, not the rule.”

Well, think again. Consider exhibit B. 

This past week the parents of students who attend Rutherford County Schools (RCS) in Tennessee were sent a note telling them that they must sign a form agreeing not to monitor their child’s online classroom sessions during the COVID-19 pandemic.  

In this note, RCS spokesman James Evans said the following: “RCS strives to present [our education] in a secure format that protects student privacy to the greatest extent possible. However, because [COVID-19 online classrooms] will occur virtually RCS is limited in its ability to fully control certain factors such as non-student observers that may be present in the home of a student participating in the virtual meeting.” 

Mr. Evans then continued: “RCS strongly discourages non-student observation of online meetings …” He then explained that the attached form “asks parents for their signature” and warns that “violations of this agreement may result in RCS removing my child from the virtual meeting.”

When pressured a bit, Mr. Evans did retract some of his Orwellian overreach by issuing the following rejoinder, “Parents can assist their students during virtual learning lessons with the instructor’s permission …”   

In other words, parents in the heartland of Tennessee are being told to sign a form agreeing not to observe their son’s and daughter’s education or their child will be expelled from class. Unless, of course, teachers such as Mr. Kay, out of the benevolence of his heart, grant these lowly parents’ permission to engage.

How did we get in the mess we are in? Maybe it is as clear as the nose on your face. Maybe it is because we have allowed ourselves to be removed from the No.1 obligation we have in raising our children: “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it” (Proverbs 22:6).

Call me crazy, but if I’m paying the bill for my kid’s education (which I am), I have the right to be involved in and informed of everything — everything! — you’re teaching him, and there isn’t a snowball’s chance in Texas I’m signing a form forfeiting that right. 

• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host. He is the author of “Not a Daycare: The Devastating Consequences of Abandoning Truth” (Regnery).

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