Letter To The Editor

I read “VITAL POLICY – OPINION – SOCIAL EMOTIONAL LEARNING (SEL), a Slippery Slope of Questionable Education Practices Has Arrived in Jefferson County, Tennessee” (June 23, 2022) with interest. I am an educator–have a Masters Degree in education, spent two decades of my career teaching, mostly in private settings. I chose to homeschool my own children until secondary school, so that I could offer them learning opportunities that aren’t available in the classroom. I offer this background information of my own credentials, not because I think it makes me qualified to make judgments concerning other people’s children, but to assure them that I hear them and can offer perspective as a parent and educator.
There are all kinds of policies in every school district in this country. They were all arrived at by people getting together and trying to solve a problem that came up in classrooms, or with individual students, or with schools’ lack of resources, or with some other difficulty. The people who come up with the policies usually have lots of experience in education, but they don’t have experience with YOUR SPECIFIC CHILD, and may be unfamiliar with YOUR SPECIFIC VALUES, and they feel that with thousands of kids in a school district, administrators don’t have the time or money to adopt different policies for every single child and family.
The problem with policies is that somebody is going to disagree with the policy no matter what it is. If the writer of this perspective piece managed to get rid of this policy, which he feels is detrimental to children and their parents, and a different policy was put in its place that he and other like-minded citizens agree with, there would be parents and others in the school district who would disagree with THAT policy for their own legitimate reasons.
It’s great for citizens (including parents) to voice their opinions. But we can’t possibly make the schools ideal for every parent’s idea of what education should include or exclude, because no two parents completely agree on how children should be educated or kept safe from real harm. Really the only way to be sure that your child is getting the exact information you want them to get, as well as your values, and to shield them temporarily from ideas you deem harmful, is to homeschool them or form your own small private school with other parents who have your same beliefs.
We still need public schools because most parents don’t want to homeschool their kids. But we have to acknowledge that there will be stuff taught in the schools that we don’t all agree on, because somebody else really does think those things are important and helpful. It would be great if all parents and teachers showed up at PTA meetings and had respectful conversations about these topics.
Submitted by Abby Hillman, Jefferson County resident