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The Dartmouth
April 14, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Letter to the Editor: Parents Should Not Have a Say in Students’ Education

If we cede public education to parental rights groups, we may condemn ourselves to even wider division between citizens.

Re: Marino: Ballots and Bookshelves

I agree with Jack Marino 27’s main point that Dartmouth students should steer clear of voting in Hanover’s March 5 school board elections, but I disagree with his implication that the empowerment of parental rights is necessarily a good thing.

First, and most obviously, parents are not a monolith. What one parent believes should be taught is not necessarily the same thing another parent thinks is appropriate.

Second, squeaky wheels get greased. Even if we ignore the fact that different parents have different interests, it will likely be the parents who most effectively — and most loudly — advocate for their positions who win, regardless of whether their views create better education.

Third, given diverse political perspectives, it is likely that no consensus will emerge as to what schools in various locales should be teaching. Today, we have state boards of education and national frameworks that at least provide some assurance that public school curricula will coalesce around some common points like math, reading, sciences and social sciences. If the functions of state and federal education policymakers are usurped by parents at the local level, we may lose the kinds of common threads that stitch the nation together.

Regarding school boards, I generally agree with the humorist Mark Twain: “In the first place, God made idiots. This was for practice. Then he made school boards.”

Patrick Mattimore is a member of the Class of 1972 and is a retired school teacher. Letters to the Editor represent the views of their author(s), which are not necessarily those of The Dartmouth.