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Concerned parents, mayor help safeguard standards in schools and community

One repercussion of the COVID-19 pandemic that American parents have been forced to deal with for over a year has been the impact on education.

COVID-forced school closures have definitely impeded the progress of children. A recent poll by USA Today and Ipsos showed 55 percent of parents “believe online learning caused their children to fall behind in school.” That was a major increase from May 2020, when 46 percent of parents felt that way.

In statewide Polls, nearly 9 in 10 parents said they are worried about their children falling behind academically and that ranks higher than any other financial or socioemotional concern. Eight in 10 parents say their child(ren) are experiencing heightened stress levels.

Aside from the pandemic, another reason why parents have been crowding to school board meetings is the renewed concern about their child’s classroom experience. Earlier this year, Joe Concha, a media and politics columnist for The Hill, said that curriculum in an increasing number of school districts has become a warped mix of wokeness and progressivism.

He told how the board of education in San Francisco decided to strip the names of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington, both whose faces appear on Mount Rushmore. Their resolution stated that these American historic figures “engaged in the subjugation and enslavement of human beings; or who oppressed women, inhibiting societal progress; or whose actions led to genocide; or who otherwise significantly diminished the opportunities of those amongst us to the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Concha said that although our children aren’t being taught very much about topics like personal finance, avoiding opioids, the power of social media or the right to free speech, educational issues were low on the list of topic discussions during the 2020 presidential campaign.

In one Ohio school district near Cleveland, parents exercised their right to free speech to protest resource material being used in a writing class intended to prepare students for college. According to Amanda Kocher, vice-chair of Moms for Liberty Summit County, a group dedicated to advocating for parents’ rights at all levels of government, the controversy was exposed when a parent found the book - “642 Things to Write About” - in their child’s backpack.

Some of the topics included:

• Write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom.

• Rewrite the sex scene from above into one that you let your mom read.

• Describe your favorite part of a man’s body using only verbs.

After the book surfaced, its contents quickly exploded on Facebook. Outraged parents, maintaining that such material is inappropriate for children, flocked to their local school board meeting to demand answers.

One irate parent, Morris Norman, stated that students were told not to take the book home so their parents couldn’t see it. He said the “raw filth that snuck past the gatekeeping functions of the board of education was disgusting.”

Another parent, Eric Durker, demanded that there be cameras in the classrooms as a matter of public record so parents know what’s being said to the students.

Monica Havens, a mother of a high school senior, took issue with the sex- and alcohol-themed writing prompts. She said that one lesson, asking students to drink a beer and write about the taste, is illegal and that she “didn’t sign off on breaking the law and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.”

She added that this type of controversy isn’t something that you just apologize, take the book and move on … it needed to be investigated.

Principal Brian Wilch responded with an apology, admitting that several writing prompts are not appropriate for high school audiences and that school officials did not exercise due diligence in reviewing the material

The school superintendent, Phil Herman, also released a statement, noting that the district did not properly review the resource, that it immediately determined that the writing resource should not be in the hands of our students, and that an independent investigation was underway to determine how the supplemental materials were reviewed and approved.

The strongest protest came from Craig A. Shubert, the mayor of Hudson, who compared the writing book to child pornography and then delivered a rigid ultimatum.

“It has come to my attention that your educators are distributing essentially what is child pornography in the classroom,” he said. “I’ve spoken to a judge this evening. She’s already confirmed that. So I’m going to give you a simple choice. You either choose to resign from this Board of Education or you will be charged.”

A few days after the mayor’s ultimatum, the leader of the Hudson school board said he and his four colleagues did not intend to resign.

With all the challenges facing schools in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s good to see these concerned Ohio parents and proactive mayor rising up to focus on curriculum. Their initiative regarding textbook content safeguards the standards in the local education system and within the community as a whole.

By Jim Zbick | tneditor@tnonline.com

The foregoing opinions do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editorial Board or Times News LLC.