Parental rights advocates call out Indiana professor for op-ed against parents

An Indiana assistant professor is being criticized after pitting parents’ rights against children’s “right to learn to be free thinkers” in a column for the Indianapolis Star.

Sarah J….

An Indiana assistant professor is being criticized after pitting parents’ rights against children’s “right to learn to be free thinkers” in a column for the Indianapolis Star.

Sarah J. Reynolds, an assistant professor at the University of Indianapolis, was criticizing Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita’s Parents’ Bill of Rights roadmap, which states parents “have a constitutional right to direct the upbringing and education of [their] child in the manner [they] see fit.” The roadmap’s goal is to inform parents of their rights when it comes to their children’s education.

In contrast, the professor thinks the community has a “collective” responsibility to ensure “children’s education is not determined by or dependent on the whims of a few” and to prepare children to be “independent, free-thinking citizens in a world beyond their parents’ control and vision.”

The AG’s roadmap also says parents also have the right “to question and review the curriculum taught in [their] child’s school,” “request a transfer for your public school child to attend another public school that is either within or outside the boundaries of your public school district,” and “apply for school choice offerings through the Indiana Choice Scholarship Program, Indiana Educational Savings Account Program, or a Scholarship Granting Organization to reduce the cost of private education.” 

Reynolds’ column did not come without backlash from both school choice and parental rights advocates on Twitter. 

“They think they own your kids. Wake up, parents,” school choice advocate Corey DeAngelis said.  

“The child is not a mere creature of the state,” education policy analyst and Ph.D student, Garion Frankel tweeted, quoting former Supreme Court Justice James C. McReynolds, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters

The 1925 Supreme Court ruling struck down an Oregon statute requiring all children to attend public school.  

“Imagine using the term ‘free-thinking’ and then in the same breath refer to State education as ‘independent’ AND advocate for a separation between parent and child because… wait for it… ‘parents need for control,’” Jonathan Prescott, a homeschool consultant, said. 

“Government education is not independent education,” tweeted Jon England, education policy analyst at Libertas Institute.  

“Public schools have always been the site of culture wars. In the late 1800s, Horace Mann proposed the first “common” schools,” England previously wrote for the organization.  

Horace Mann, the so-called “father of American education” created the concept of the “common” schools in the 1800s with a goal of creating a uniform education system for the purpose of having “political stability and social harmony.” Some have argued his education system “muted all diversity of culture and thought.” 

Some education reform supporters have argued microschools, learning pods, and other innovative methods of education are need to foster environments for children to “think critically and solve complex challenges.” These schools are also known to build strong relationships with families, the Economic Times found. 

A 2018 study by the Reboot Foundation found 48% of parents believe they should be responsible for nurturing critical thinking, while 41% believe it is up to educators and 22% say it should be up to children. 

“That column is insanity. Those radicals aren’t even trying to hide their agenda to indoctrinate our kids anymore,” AG Rokita’s office tweeted about the professor’s column. “The Indy Star should spend less energy promoting anti-parent content like this, and instead focus on ending their own journalists’ strike.”