For ten years, I was a dedicated public school mom—volunteering in the classroom, starting the campus composting program, and more. I enjoyed the community and felt certain that no other educational experience could be as rewarding. But when I pulled my child out of public school in 2021, I joined a culturally diverse, highly social community of homeschoolers in New York City. I didn’t expect my fellow homeschooling parents’ political and philosophical views to be so sweeping. Liberal or conservative, Christian or Jewish or atheist, homeschooling parents cover the whole gamut. They adopt or avoid “preferred pronouns”; they follow strict curricula or practice “unschooling”; they are gay, straight, Hispanic, black, Asian or white; they come from all sorts of socioeconomic backgrounds.
However, what all homeschooling parents have in common is that we put the well-being of our children first and believe that we know best how to guide their education. We don’t all have to believe the same thing, and we don’t need the state to dictate the conditions for our peaceful coexistence. Public institutions and politicians have abused our trust. This November, I will enter a voting booth to express my dissatisfaction with the education system. I expect many parents will do the same.
I’m an artist and environmentalist with a strong belief in social welfare, and I’ve been an anti-Trump and pro-racial equality activist. But I will no longer mindlessly follow party lines. I will vote against politicians who put children last during the pandemic, disrupting their education through masking, social distancing and arbitrary quarantine rules. Years of learning were lost, the effects of which will be seen in years to come, widening the gap between rich and poor. Toddlers were kept masked for weeks after everyone else’s masks were removed, while certain politicians posed smiling in front of faceless youths. Homeschooling moms have different ideas about the Covid measures. But all become single voters when someone tries to take away their right to raise their children according to their own values, standards and ethics.
I will not vote alone against a governor who has remained silent while the state seeks to enforce broad parity for non-public schools by aligning all non-public schools with public school standards – thereby reducing the autonomy of many religious and independent schools is endangered.
I will also vote against the many Democratic state legislators and state senators who support A6616, which promises to mandate comprehensive sex education for kindergarten through twelfth grade. As a mother, when it comes to issues such as sexuality, violence, religion and politics, I want to be the one who determines what and under what conditions my child is exposed. This proposed law embodies state hyperbole. There is a risk that children will be exposed and used to adult content before they are ready.
Another proposed law (again sponsored by Democrats) should alarm parents. Bill A09963 “authorizes minors to consent to medical, dental, health, mental health or hospital services if they understand the need, nature and reasonably foreseeable risks and benefits involved, and any alternatives thereto.” My daughters are responsible and confident . But they are minors and do not know every detail of their medical history. As her mother, I am responsible for her welfare. This law not only removes parental rights, but also gives medical institutions more power over my child than I have.
The worrying scenarios described above could become a reality. Parents should come together across their diverse political and cultural tribes and stand against those who seek to undermine our families and our freedoms.
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