Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Better a strict Bill Of Wrongs to bind schools down with, than to risk the unforeseen consequences of a Parents Bill Of Rights?

Warning: a possible unpopular opinion here, that I'd like to run by parents and politicians: I have some concerns about this rush for a Parents Bill of Rights , and not about the motivations for why parents think it's needed - few concerns are more obvious and justifiable than those - but for the unforeseen consequences of it's being passed, as well as a serious question about why one seemingly obvious alternative, has not been proposed.

I get the good intentions of those proposing it,
but I question the ability and motives of
 those who will someday be enforcing it
To touch on my concerns first, they run along the lines of those reasons why James Madison, the Father of our Constitution, and the chief drafter or our Bill of Rights, was originally opposed to having a Bill of Rights, and that was partly because such a bill is too easily turned into a restrictive list of privileges. It is not unusual for Govt to behave as if it not only granted the people those rights that they've enumerated in their laws, but that their law covers the full extent and limits of 'rights' that are available to those they've graciously granted them to. 

Is it really so hard to imagine a situation such as this in the near future:
"Oh, we've already passed laws protecting your rights, and this new issue that you've brought up, as you can clearly see, is not one of them."
, or:
"Yes, we did pass a law protecting your right to do [insert unforeseen situation here], but this issue that you've brought up today, as you can clearly see in the record of the debates over this law, were never mentioned as an issue it would apply to, and so, sorry, no... please submit, and have a nice day."
, and in either case you can rest assured that for those with power and influence, loopholes would soon abound.

James Madison finally set his concerns aside (thankfully) when he came up with the idea for what eventually became our 9th & 10th amendments, that gave some protection to the people's Individual Rights and the Powers through the Ninth Amendment,
"The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."
, and to the powers of the states through the Tenth Amendment:
"The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."
But... as brilliant an innovation as the 9th & 10th amendments were, their thinking, and the Americans who voted to ratify them, are nearly lost even amongst 'Constitutional Conservatives' today, who've been known to refer to them as having no more substance than "inkblots on the Constitution", even conservative stalwarts like Judge Bork, as I noted a few years ago,
"... the same Judge Bork who famously referred to the 9th Amendment as having no more meaning than 'an inkblot on the Constitution'. Let's be clear: what that doesn't tell you about Judge Bork, is that he was a Leftist - he certainly was not, and it certainly doesn't tell us that he meant to betray the Constitution - I've no doubt that he'd rather have cut his right hand off. But what that should tell you, and me, and Hammer, about Judge Bork, is that he didn't understand the essential concepts that drove the Founders to formulate and ratify the 9th Amendment, which should tell us that that understanding was not present in his judicial judgment - unless of course, you think that those of the Founders' era who wrote and ratified the 9th Amendment, intended it as a means of splattering the Constitution with meaningless inkblots!..."
Keeping in mind that James Madison feared such shenanigans in our Founders time, I'm in no way confident that either our politicians, or ourselves (and Justice Thomas is the only one on the SCOTUS today that I wouldn't be concerned about... and maybe Gorsuch (in most situations)... possibly Alito too, but much less so, and none of the others, Left or Right), can be trusted to not be hoodwinked by such measures today.

And given that, I'm not at all eager to put such a dangerously manipulatable tool as a 'Parent's Bill of Rights', into the hands of those in Jefferson City (or Washington D.C.), that might later be able to be used to further limit what parents can do in regards to something as important, and something as greedily and deliberately targeted, as our children.

So those being some of my concerns, here's my question:
  • Why are these bills attempting to define what parents can do, rather than targeting what schools are forbidden to do (and should be penalized for)?
Why risk potentially limiting what actions that Parents can take by saying that they have a right to, for instance, demand to see curriculum (and does that mean only textbooks explicitly referred to in curriculum frameworks? And which kind of frameworks? What about teacher's worksheets?...Websites referred to...?), instead of stating something like:
"No school shall deny a parent [or tax payer] the ability to freely examine any materials presented or recommended to students - failure to comply will result in $___ fine on the first instance, and loss of [some valued feature] on repeated offences"
, and so on. For myself, I'd much rather bind our schools down with a strict Bill Of Wrongs (backed with significant penalties), than to risk restricting everyone else's actions, with a 'Parents Bill Of Rights' that might unintentionally go wrong at some point in the future.

For those who have been to the various townhalls discussing the matter (mine was yesterday, and I [insert feeble excuses here] missed it), or who have talked with their reps about these proposals, I'd very much like to hear from you if such questions and concerns have been raised, and if so, how they might have been answered.

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