Parents' Rights

- August 12, 2022
Should they have full control over the education of their children?
Photo of woman protesting against critical race theory in Leesburg, Virginia, on June 12, 2021. (AFP/Getty Images/Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
From Oregon to Florida, parents are asserting what they say is their right to direct the education of their children. The discontent has focused on questions ranging from anti-racism instruction to library book selections and COVID-19 pandemic issues, including school reopenings, whether masks should be worn at school and virtual and remote learning. Often, however, these parents have protested in ways that are angry and aggressive.

What are parental activists' main complaints against local school boards? What tactics have they used to press their complaints?

What specific issues have been particular flash points in recent controversies involving parental rights and school curricula?

1950s–1970sCourt-ordered school desegregation triggers protests by white parents.
2016–2019President Donald Trump endorses local control over school curriculums; new anti-racism classroom materials draw protests.
2020–PresentThe COVID-19 pandemic upends classroom instruction; anti-racism education triggers increased controversy.

Should parental rights outweigh state prerogatives in determining education policy?


Robert Pondiscio
Senior Fellow, American Enterprise Institute.


Elena Aydarova
Associate Professor, Department of Educational Foundations, Leadership and Technology, Auburn University.


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