Lauren Moye, FISM News
Michigan Democrats found themselves in hot water this weekend when the public condemned their statement that parents should not have a say in their children’s education. Under pressure from Republicans and parents alike, the Democrats have since attempted to backpedal from the controversial post.
On Saturday, the official Michigan Democrats account posted on their Facebook page: “Not sure where this ‘parents-should-control-what-is-taught-in-schools-because-they-are-our-kids’ is originating, but parents do have the option to send their kids to a hand-selected private school at their own expense if this is what they desire.”
The post, deleted on Monday morning after a weekend of intense scrutiny, continued, “The purpose of public education in public schools is not to teach kids only what parents want them to be taught. It is to teach them what society needs them to know. The client of the public school is not the parent, but the entire community, the public.”
they didn't learn anything from Virginia. pic.twitter.com/i1KLMT9Rwg
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) January 16, 2022
After nearly two years of unusual learning environments caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the post was seen as insensitive to the role that parents have stepped up to take during distance learning. Others, like the education reform group Great Lakes Education Project, viewed it as a classist attack on the poor who cannot afford the expenses of a hand-picked private school:
The Michigan Democrat Party’s classist attack on low-income and other parents is absolutely astonishing – and very telling. Public school is about kids, not Democrats’ political policy agenda. https://t.co/FP9FBZTO9Y
— GLEP (@GLEP_MI) January 17, 2022
Republican Governor candidate Tudor Dixon also pointed out that the state’s law specifies that parents are, in fact, clients of the school:
Gov @GretchenWhitmer’s Democrat Party: “The client of the public school is not the parent”
MI State Law: “public schools of this state serve the needs of the pupils by cooperating with the pupil's parents”
Dems want a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy for school curriculum.
— Tudor Dixon (@TudorDixon) January 16, 2022
On Monday, the Michigan Democrats issued a new statement that attempted to distance themselves from the original post, saying, “We have deleted a post that ignored the important role parents play—and should play—in Michigan public schools. Parents need to have a say in their children’s education, end of story. 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.”
Republican Governors Association regional press secretary Chris Gustafson ripped into the Michigan Democrats flipflop with the suggestion that they meant to say was, “We understand that our strongly held beliefs were not appreciated by voters, so we’ve deleted them, but rest assured, we still believe that parents should have no role in education.”
Gustavo Portela, the communications director for the Michigan GOP, stated, “Deleting a 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. 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.”
In a statement to Fox News, Portela accused Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) and her party of being “in the pockets of teachers unions.”
Gustafson also attacked Whitmer in a Monday statement to Fox News, saying, “Gretchen Whitmer must condemn the Michigan Democrat Party or admit that she believes teachers unions should control public education, not parents.”
The GOP Party is capitalizing on school choice as an important issue for voters, especially after the recent Virginia election where Republican Glenn Youngkin became the governor-elect after his rival, Terry McAuliffe, made a similar statement against parent involvement in public education.
The current Michigan governor has ignored her party’s controversial post so far.