For parents across our country, you could say 2021 was a renaissance year. Fueled by the virtual learning systems implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, parents had a chance to see firsthand what their children were learning in school. More importantly, many were surprised by the teaching methods, or pedagogy, of what was being taught.

In essence, the veil of curriculum content and pedagogy long-shielded by the brick and mortar of school walls was lifted. It revealed the soft underbelly of progressivism that had made its way into the educational system, which some parents obviously found objectionable. And delays in the return to in-person learning coupled with mask and vaccine mandates led some enraged parents to show up en masse to school board meetings in protest.

This divide between parents and schools was quite evident in the 55% of respondents to a 2022 Gallup poll who stated they were either “completely dissatisfied” or “somewhat dissatisfied” with the nation’s education system. And they’re not wrong — academics and standardized test scores have fallen; and some parents feel disenfranchised over withheld information and controversial policies.

However, there is one overarching reason why parents have stood up: Schools have gone too far in shifting the decision-making power dynamic away from parents and giving it to the education bureaucracy. A bill I’ve introduced, L.D. 1800, is meant to counter that shift and reaffirm the long-held convention that parents have the proper authority over their children’s lives.

Research has repeatedly shown that the number one indicator of student success is parental involvement. Put another way, educational curricula, school administration, the Maine Department of Education (DOE) and even the single best teacher you’ve ever had don’t compare to the impact parents have on their child’s success in school.

Studies have consistently shown that those schools with high student achievement, even those in low socioeconomic neighborhoods, have strong and positive school-home relationships. Students are more likely to experience academic success if their home environment is supportive.


Instead, it’s become apparent that an activist minority feel they should be in control, thereby casting parents aside to an almost inconsequential, all too easily discarded role. This must change.

L.D. 1800 seeks to reestablish that parents have the fundamental right to make decisions regarding the upbringing, education and well-being of their own child. It also reaffirms that parents are entitled to all information regarding their child’s school activities, including a right to review all teaching or instructional materials, required textbooks, course syllabi, lesson plans and other teaching aids used in the classroom or during virtual or remote learning.

In addition to lower test scores, we have seen other disturbing outcomes such as falling graduation rates, increased chronic absenteeism and huge jumps in mental health issues over the last couple of years. Given these progressions, we need to seek greater parental and community involvement, not less.

Therefore, this bill also requires school administrative units to notify parents of certain activities relating to student health and well-being, especially since this country is facing a mental health crisis among our children. It seeks to adopt procedures related to parental notification about, involvement in and addressing concerns about a student’s mental, emotional or physical health and well-being.

Quality education is of paramount importance; teachers and schools are an invaluable part of the equation. However, they are only contributors – the overall well-being of children is ultimately the responsibility of parents.

Maine schools should be a place of collaboration between parents, teachers, counselors and other school personnel; but parents must always be in the driver’s seat. We need laws to reaffirm that and put parents firmly in charge of the upbringing, education and well-being of their own child while respecting the valuable role of educators. It shouldn’t be a controversial issue.

With rare exceptions, no person is more invested in a child than their parent. That’s the way it should be.

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