Standing on the LAW and respectfully requesting them to do the same.
The first thing you did when you made the decision to enroll your child in public school, you filled out a bunch of papers. Do you remember all of those documents and what they meant? If you are like most parents, it was an annoyance, you moved them from the kitchen counter and forgot about them. Then you child comes home and says “Mom/Dad, the teacher called my name out in class as one of the kids who didn’t hand in their papers. Can you fill them out so I don’t get in trouble?”
Quickly you fill out all of those papers, happy to resolve further embarrassment for your child. But what were all of those papers?
Well, one thing is that you signed consent for you and your child to abide by the policies inside of the school. That might not be as bad as you think. Unless you were hoping that the Constitution was alive inside of that building. But, more importantly is this little legal phrase called “in loco parentis”. Basically, you have agreed to grant permission/authority to the school, acting in the role as the parent. When you place your child into their custody and care, by law, you have granted them “parental authority”.
But, how does an institution, know how you choose to parent your child and is the public education system aligned with your parenting roles and guidance? Is your child’s mental development to the point that they are expected to be obedient, to what they are told by those in authority. As a parent, you get to do model and enact the rules at home. You establish the moral, ethical, and responsibilities based upon your knowledge of your own child. How does that align with every administrator, principal, and teacher in your child’s school?
We all have had different responses to pandemic related pressures. Maybe your child required an IEP. Or, maybe you were guided to follow their rules to seek a 504. But one thing is pretty safe to assume is that you felt you were on your own, or in some Facebook Group, trying to figure it out with others, as you went along.
Cultural Contrarian through the PMA, continues advocating for parents and a few were willing to hear the messaging, interact on social media, and dipped their toes into consuming content and learning. Human nature is we all want the shortcut to achieve what we desire most. Here are some of the most heard comments when speaking with people:
- Just tell me what to do and I will do it.
- What form can I use to get my child to not wear a mask?
- How do I stop my child from being socially isolated in school?
- How can I have my kid use their phone in school and not get a detention.
- My child recorded a video of a fight at school and a teacher took the phone and deleted the video, what can I do?
- The school isn’t following my child’s IEP.
- And many, many more.
So, Cultural Contrarian started teaching in more detail about in loco parentis and more importantly the Americans With Disability Act.
Advocating for your child has only a few options, and it starts at the beginning:
- Whose choice was it to send them to public school? If it was your choice, you accepted the benefits and the terms (policies, guidelines, rules, books, etc.)
- If you consented, is it reasonable that a superintendent, board or teacher, will be expected to change and accommodate your desires?
- What does the LAW require, and how “are” public officials accountable to that law, not how we think/believe they “should be”.
- How do I _______ _______ ______ for my child in his school? Great question? How has it worked so far?
- Children have no “rights” in school, they have permissions and privileges.
A short social Story
The Smith Family was blessed with triplet girls. The Smith Family devoted their energy to bring their little angels up with the combined life experience of teaching from Mrs. Smiths up bringing and Mr. Smiths up bringing. As a solid family unit, they developed their girls moral compass, modeled respect of authority, and constructed a worldview based upon their understanding of how to live life morally and ethically.
As the girls grew up, they navigated through the public education system. They learned the basics, reading, maths, and science. Participated in extracurricular activities and tagged along with their parents, sports, religious, and political interests. Sure, they formed their own sphere of friends with common interests, but were never closed off to having relationships with all different kinds of people.
Moving past high school the triplets scattered about the country to attend college where each of them in their Junior year, found their soul mates. The youngest triplet April, got married and lives in San Francisco. The middle triplet, May, got married and lives in southern Idaho. The oldest triplet, June, got married and lives in rural Pennsylvania.
Strange as biology is, all three sisters birthed twins, and each of them have one child with special challenges. Each of the sisters, put their kids in elementary school and started sharing personal concerns regarding their children. You know the kind, the distraction in the classrooms. The occasional violent outbreaks. Kids wanting to use their smartphones and getting punished. Social isolation when the masks came out. Having to address topics which are being presented by teachers about certain flags, boys dressed as girls, and kitty litter in bathrooms. Sometimes they were shocked at the kids asking questions about reproductive body parts which the sisters all felt was not age appropriate.
The sisters would talk on the weekends about how each were trying advocate for their child. Talking to the teachers, speaking before school boards. They all seemed to rally around a situation of boys going into girls bathrooms and pornographic books in the library. They spent countless hours, preparing 3-minute speeches, attending school board meetings, participating in small organizations rallying about this cause or that cause.
One sister finally found this cool document online which someone reported to achieve the success they all desired. This is what happened.
Amy, printed out the document, read it over with her husband, and they both agreed to arrange a meeting with the school superintendent, principal, and the school psychologist. Everyone greeted each other with pleasantries, and Amy pulled out the document and respectfully said “We would like to show you something which we feel will help meet the needs of our child inside of school.” They read the document, with not much feedback and a request was made for a brief recess.
Returning from the recess was another individual and it was the school lawyer. A nice friendly woman who introduced herself and began uttering comments about IDEA, IEP’s, 504 Testing, and pretty much overwhelmed April and her husband. Everything sounded very legal, the school had to follow the law, and they didn’t know up from down. They walked in feeling empowered, proud advocating for their children, and WHAMO, they were put on their heels. The document was metaphorically ripped apart and Amy and her husband left the meeting sad and consoled each other with the sentiment at least they tried.
May and her husband had the identical document, and they spent a little more time in research and preparation in advance of the meeting. They made a similar presentation, but after the brief dismissal, a few more people came into the room. It was evident that tension was building and May’s husband perceived that this was a kind of intimidation tactic. Bruce, May’s husband, a potato harvesting farmer took more of a leaning in posture. The lawyer offered the same legal language, not from any authoritative commanding kind of voice, but it was assertive. The same type of responses flowed back and forth. Bruce, was able to make some really solid points. The theme of the interaction was that everyone acknowledged and appreciated a collaborative involvement in their children’s eduction. They looked Bruce directly in the eyes and said “Sir, we truly appreciate you advocating for your children, its very important to have involved parents like you. What you presented is really intriguing and we want to give you all the attention you deserve. Just give us a little time to take this information back and review with our team. We want to make every best effort to do the best we can for you, your children, and to balance that with what the school may need to do.” May and Bruce left feeling really good. Fist bumping each other in the car and said “See, that wasn’t as bad as we thought.”
After May and Bruce had left the parking lot, the school meeting participants gathered in a little huddle and conversed about that meeting. The Superintendent spoke directly to the attorney. e”Well, that was interesting. You guys know this family and kids? We probably need to keep a closer eye on them.” The lawyer spoke up and said “We don’t have to do anything about this right now. Just let me know if you see any correspondence from that family and I will take care of it.” What happened next is they didn’t hear back from the school. Emails were sent and the school would provide positive affirming words that they are still doing some research with the State and Federal Laws and will get back to Bruce and May when they have a response. Intervals between emails were every 3 months.
The third sister, June and her husband Amos, they learned about this Private Membership Association (PMA), and were learning about constitutional rights, the law, and the limits of authority. They had spent some time talking with other people in the PMA, listening to videos, reading eBooks, and were kind of in a boot camp to train and exercise their rights.
June and Amos had the same experience as May and Bruce with a team of people coming into the room. Amos and June were a team. The lawyer started with the first volly, June respectfully came back with a reply. The lawyer needed to open her laptop for quick verification and redirected with what she thought was a bigger arrow. June looked at Amos and they smiled at each other and June replied by pointing to the document. June said, “I’d like to stay on this topic right here before we go to a different issue.” The school officials attempted to move the goal post and shift the messaging. June and Amos were prepared for this avoidance tactic. This meeting was a bit longer than the other sisters. The school officials used all kind of tactics to avoid addressing the merits of the document. Obfuscation, avoidance, redirection, and appeals to higher authority. But June and Amos had been investing time learning in the PMA about the communication tactics use by public officials (verbal judo). Sure, It had a bit of anxiety producing moments but June and Amos had coping mechanisms in their mental inventory. At the end of their meeting, the document was agreed upon, signatures were added, and June and Amos celebrated reclaiming their parenting rights back from the school.
Each of the sisters had the same material, and were entering into similar environments with the same goals for their children. The difference was that April and May, didn’t know, what they didn’t know, and truly did they best that they could and were both hoping for a different result.
And what did June and Amos have? They had tools, resources, support, information, and a plan, to achieve the goal they desired. They all had a document with words on it. What made the difference was how those words were stood upon with knowledge.
Sometimes it is wise to pause, take a step back, and ask yourself, is anybody achieving success in school? In the Cultural Contrarian PMA the answer to that is yes. But what was the pre-requisite to achieve that success? It was learning about the Law, the School’s obligations to their superiors (Some say the money, contracts or government influence), and learning how to stand on the Law. You don’t just walk in with a document and say “The LAW says this, and you are violating your oath to the constitution.” (Expecting them to follow some emergency use authorization option.) But, that is what the majority of parents and caregivers appear to be doing and the preferred path folks seem to believe will work. Some folks believe that changing board members is a significant step in the right direction. For some areas, it absolutely is. But is moving chairs at a board, affecting a change for your child in the classroom?
Cultural Contrarian continues to be busy teaching about in loco parentis and disabilities of minority. Unfortunately, most are unaware of these topics, or the law to the point of engaging with the CulturalContrarian-PMA. So, this was intended to respectfully give you an opportunity to see which sister or husband aligns with your family. If you desire a June and Amos result, you can privately just download the eBook below.