Republicans attack Michigan Dems for telling the truth about public education

Republicans continue to attack teachers' autonomy in the classrooms. - SHUTTERSTOCK
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Republicans continue to attack teachers' autonomy in the classrooms.

The prospect of students learning about the impact of institutional racism has thrown Republicans into a tizzy.

Michigan is among a growing number of states where Republican lawmakers have introduced bills limiting what schools can teach about race.

Other states are going further. In Indiana, a recent bill would give parents a say in the curriculum and require schools to post lessons and materials online.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis introduced a bill that would enable parents to sue school districts that teach critical race theory, a decades-old academic concept that examines systemic racism.

Over the weekend, the Michigan Democratic Party responded to the attack on school autonomy by posting a screenshot that pointed out that public education is intended to teach students “what society needs them to know” and “not to teach kids only what parents want them to be taught." Parents who want more say on classroom curriculums “have the option to choose to send their kids to a hand-selected private school at their own expense,” the post read.

None of this is untrue. The point of a public education is not to teach students only what parents want.

But Republicans jumped on the post and said it’s proof that Democrats don’t want parents to have a say in their children’s education — a position not taken in the post.

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

"This is a slap in the face of parents who might not have the means to afford private school but who still expect and DESERVE a say in the education of their children," Shirkey said on Twitter.

Former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, who is running for governor as a Republican, said “parents are the true stakeholders” in their children’s education.

"Parents that expect more out of their local public school, and hold them accountable, should not be told to get out their checkbook and hit the road," Craig said in a statement. "They have already opened their checkbooks by paying their taxes and deserve high-quality education for their children."

Kevin Rinke, a metro Detroit businessman who is also running for governor as a Republican, said he will put an end to “this nonsense” if he wins.

"Parents, not bureaucrats, will make the decisions on what's best for their children's education," Rinke said in a statement.

On Monday, the Democratic Party deleted the post.

"Parents need to have a say in their children’s education, end of story," the party said on Facebook. "The post does not reflect the views of Michigan Democrats and should not be misinterpreted as a statement of support from our elected officials or candidates."

Gustavo Portela, spokesman for the Michigan Republican Party, said deleting the post “is an admission of guilt.”

“They know they are in the wrong and for the sake of our children’s successes in Michigan after a tough year of learning loss, parents must be involved in their children’s education,” Portela said. “There’s no ifs ands or buts. We want all Michigan children to have equal opportunities in education and while Democrats disagree — parents are the key.”

But equal opportunities aren't dictated by parents or lawmakers. Teachers know their curriculums, and removing race from the classroom only deepens inequality.

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About The Author

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling is an award-winning investigative journalist who operated Motor City Muckraker, an online news site devoted to exposing abuses of power and holding public officials accountable. Neavling also hosted Muckraker Report on 910AM from September 2017 to July 2018. Before launching Motor City Muckraker,...
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