(Benjamin Yount | The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s state superintendent of schools and at least one Democratic state representative are dismissing the parents who turned out at the Capitol on Thursday to ask to be more of a part of their children’s education.
State Superintendent Jill Underly issued a statement before the parents appeared in front of the Assembly’s Committee on Education saying the parents are taking sides against teachers in the state.
“Our schools – and our kids – need so much right now. They need real solutions to real problems. These bills are decidedly not that, and the fact that the authors of these bills seem to believe that their bills are, in fact, what our schools and students need is yet one more illustration of how out of touch they are with the reality on the ground,” Undery said in her statement.
The parents were at the Capitol to show their support for the Parents Bill of Rights. The plan spells-out that parents, not local school districts, are in charge of their child’s education.
“The legislature is proposing bills that will do nothing to help our public schools. They are proposing bills that are intended to divide us, to pit parents against teachers, and parents in rural communities against parents in suburban communities,” Underly added in her statement.
Mequon mom and school board candidate Scarlett Johnson told lawmakers parents should be at the center of the relationship between kids and their teachers.
“Over the past few years I have come to realize just how much parents have been frozen out of our kids’ schools,” Johnson explained to lawmakers. “We have been made to feel utterly powerless. The real power over our public schools is too often held by a select few, who I have realized have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo.”
As Johnson and other parents were testifying, Rep. Lee Snodgrass, D-Appleton, expressed her disdain for the Parents Bill of Rights on Twitter.
“If parents want to ‘have a say’ in their child’s education, they should home school or pay for private school tuition out of their family budget,” Snodgrass said in a now-deleted tweet.
Libby Sobic, Director of Education Policy at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty said lawmakers are not wrong to make parental involvement in local schools the cornerstone of their education reforms.
“We should be encouraging parents to talk to teachers. We should be encouraging our communities to be involved. We want to empower parents with information,” Sobic said.
The Parental Bill of Rights, as well as several other education reforms will likely pass both the Republican-controlled Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate. They are then most certainly likely to die once they reach Gov. Tony Evers desk.