A Michigan State professor on Wednesday called the issue of parental rights a “made-up crisis” during a panel discussion called “Crisis In The Classroom” on a local ABC News affiliate.
After a debate on school choice, the discussion host Armstrong Williams shifted the conversation, asking Texas State Board of Education member Staci Childs if parents should be made aware of what their child is being taught in the classroom.
Childs responded that parents should know what their children are learning.
“However, I don’t think that that gives rise to allowing us to manipulate what has happened in our country and manipulate the truth and cherry-pick what we’re going to teach students. That’s two different things,” Childs said.
Armstrong proceeded to ask for Dr. Joshua Cowen, the professor of education policy at Michigan State University, to respond. Cowen said that as a parent of five children in public schools, he is going to meet with his children’s teachers and help out with their extracurricular activities. Earlier in the segment, Cowen criticized school vouchers, claiming that “Betsy DeVos-style voucher schemes don’t work.”
“Parent-teacher conferences are all over the place. You can walk in. The idea is that parents aren’t involved in public schools and have no say. I mean–I just don’t know where it’s coming from. I think it’s kind of a made-up crisis, to be honest with you,” Cowen said.
American Federation For Children senior fellow Corey DeAngelis pushed back against Cowen’s remarks.
“Yeah, look, Josh, you’re talking about experiences, right? You went to a private school yourself. I’m glad you had that opportunity, but, other families should have that opportunity as well. And you shouldn’t turn around after getting that opportunity close the door behind you and tell less advantaged families that ‘oh if they get a choice it’s actually going to hurt their kids if they choose for their whole families.’ They know better than you about what is best for their own children. They know better than bureaucrats sitting in offices hundreds of miles away.”
Cowen told Fox News Digital that his expertise is more geared toward school vouchers.
“I’m a program evaluator by training, I was asked to appear on that panel to talk about the research surrounding school vouchers, which overwhelmingly shows that the bigger and more recent the voucher program, the worse the academic results. The reason is that these programs mainly prop up struggling private schools that would otherwise close,” Cowen said.
He continued, “So voucher schemes are not solutions to what I otherwise acknowledge were very real COVID-19 related declines in academic outcomes. In fact, in so far as effect sizes are concerned, the last decade of voucher impacts have been on par with or even worse than what COVID-19 did to NAEP.”
“As far as the rest of the parents rights issue goes, as I said in the full segment—and as a parent myself—I think most parents worry that their kids will find friends, will get home safely every night, will have enough food at school every day, and will find the tools and experiences around them to succeed on their own.”
DeAngelis also sent Fox News Digital a statement.
“Leftists are doubling down on gaslighting parents. You have to live in quite the socialist echo chamber to believe that parental concerns about public education are just a ‘made-up crisis,’” he said, “Parents should show these radical Democrats that their concerns are real by holding them accountable at the ballot box. Maybe then these communists who think kids belong to the government will wake up and listen to parents instead of fighting to silence them.”
Cowen’s comments underscore that issues in education have become a top concern among voters. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, school board meetings have often become contentious battles between parents and school board officials, reigniting the debate on how much control parents have over their children’s education.
The book bans during the 2022-23 school year came amid lawmakers across the United States implementing rigorous book review policies and other education reform legislation that addresses progressive curricula like critical race theory and gender theory being taught in classrooms.
Most notably, Florida Gov. Ron Desantis’ Parental Rights in Education Law, which critics dubbed as the “Don’t Say Gay” law, currently prevents school employees or third parties from giving classroom instruction on “sexual orientation” or “gender identity” in all grades in K-12.
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