Michigan Democratic Party removes role of parents after questioning in schools

The Michigan Democratic Party deleted a weekend Facebook post that questioned the role of parents in choosing what is taught in public schools and drew criticism from conservative and school choice groups.

The Democratic Party post, which appeared to be a screenshot, said the purpose of public education was to teach students “what society needs them to know.”

And parents who want more information about what their children are learning, the message says, “have the option of choosing to send their children to a selected private school at their own expense.”

“The public school client is not the parent, but the whole community, the public,” according to the post.

In a social media post on Monday, the party said it had deleted the post from its Facebook page. Before it was deleted, the Facebook post had been shared around 2,500 times.

“Parents must have a say in the education of their children, end of story,” the Democratic Party said on Monday. “The message does not reflect the views of Michigan Democrats and should not be misinterpreted as a statement of support from our elected officials or candidates.”

Republicans blasted the message over the weekend, noting that Michigan’s revised school code stated that determining and directing a child’s upbringing and teaching is the “basic natural right of parents and legal guardians.” .

“The public schools in this state meet the needs of students by cooperating with the student’s parents and legal guardians to develop the student’s intellectual abilities and vocational skills in a safe and supportive environment,” the law says.

Saturday’s Facebook post followed months of heated debate at Michigan school board meetings over pandemic school closures, student mask mandates and whether to teach critical science theory. race. The post also came amid push for a tax-incentive scholarship program that could be used in private schools.

Republican operatives launched a petition initiative to push through the scholarship program after Governor Gretchen Whitmer vetoed legislation proposing the same plan. The Democratic governor compared it to the failed DeVos-backed school voucher proposals and said it would violate the state Constitution by giving public funds to private schools.

By pushing the policy through the ballot initiative process, organizers can send the signed petition to the GOP-led Legislature for approval and avoid the governor’s veto.

Michigan’s Republican gubernatorial candidates as well as conservative and school-choice groups across the country criticized the Democrats’ Saturday message on social media and in press releases.

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, a candidate for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, said “parents are the real stakeholders” in their children’s education.

“Parents who expect more from their local public school and hold them accountable should not be asked to pull out their checkbook and hit the road,” Craig said in a statement. “They have already opened their checkbook paying their taxes and deserve a quality education for their children.”

Metro Detroit businessman Kevin Rinke, also a GOP gubernatorial hopeful, said “this nonsense will end” if he becomes governor.

“Parents, not bureaucrats, will decide what is best for their children’s education,” Rinke wrote.

School choice group Great Lakes Education Project has called on state leaders to speak out against the “classist” message.

“The party’s classist attack on low-income parents and others is absolutely stunning and very telling. Public school is about the kids, not the Democrats’ political agenda,” said Beth DeShone, the group’s executive director.

Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake, also condemned the message.

“It’s a slap in the face to parents who may not be able to afford a private school but still expect and DESERVE to have a say in their children’s education,” Shirkey said on Twitter.

Former Republican State Rep. Gary Glenn of Midland pointed to the success of Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin in overthrowing the Democratic leadership in Virginia on promises to restore parents’ right to have a say in the program.

“Thank you MI Democrat Party,” Glenn wrote on Facebook. “Double down despite what happened in the Virginia gov’s race, the gift that keeps on giving.”

GOP State Senator Lana Theis used the post in a fundraising email for her re-election campaign, calling the post a “shut up and sit down” message to Michigan families.

“That’s what I’m up against at Lansing,” said Theis, R-Brighton. “Teachers’ unions, government bureaucrats and bullies who make the rules as we go and tell us to shut up and let it be.”

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Joseph K. Bennett