Tuesday, June 29, 2010

SB293--The Parents Right to Know Act

SB293, the Parents Right to Know Act, is struggling to make it's way through the State Legislature despite the support of a very vocal and committed constituency including the Delaware Family Policy Council (DFPC).  You can read the bill here.  It's quite short.  You can get some background here at the 912 Delaware Patriots website.  Here's the synopsis.

This Bill would require schools to notify parents of information being taught to their children relating to human sexuality issues, sexual acts, profanity, violence, drugs and/or alcohol. Such policy would ensure parent/guardian notification no less than 48 hours prior to introduction or instructional use. Such policy would afford parents or guardians the flexibility to exempt their children from any portion of said curriculum or materials through notification to the school principal.

As a Libertarian, I have some reservations about the bill. I believe it's intent is honorable, but it strikes me as a means to facilitate yet one more special interest to control the agenda, in this case school curricula, by introducing still another layer of bureaucracy.  I understand the goals and share some of the concerns of the sponsors, but I am unhappy that they resort to adding more check boxes to be filled in by school administrators.  Here are some of my thoughts on the subject.

Parents have valid concerns with liberal special interests trying to force their agenda through the schools.

I know of no evidence that schools in Delaware are not already responsive to parents wishes without adding another layer of bureaucracy. (If anybody wants to cite some examples that I am unaware of, please reply to this post).

Libertarian principles would suggest that action at the school board level would be more appropriate where parents can get involved with their childrens' schools directly.

To take it further, Libertarians believe that government should not be in the education business in the first place other than perhaps to administer a voucher system where parents can choose religious education, arts oriented education, vocational education, traditional college prep education or even Satanic education if that's what they want.  OK, so maybe not Satanic education.  But pretty much anything the market can provide that parents want for their kids.  No more fighting the bureaucracy.  Don't like the curriculum?  Vote with your feet.  Choose a school run by people who share your values.  The market will sort this out.

We won't get from A to C over a single summer vacation.  That is, we won't go from where we are now, to Libertarian Nirvana overnight, but why not start now with a pilot voucher program, and grow it as it's success evolves?  Maybe a government school should always be an option for parents who want that.  That would be OK.

What are your thoughts?