Opinion
Families & the Community Letter to the Editor

Don’t Politicize Parenting. We Need Bridges, Not Fences

April 16, 2024 1 min read
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To the Editor:

The opinion essay is a fair acknowledgement that a perceived right-left divide can inhibit communication and partnerships between communities and schools (“Why Educators Often Have It Wrong About Right-Leaning Parents,” March 4, 2024). However, I believe there are also many ways to reduce this gap and find common ground on points on which we can agree. Unfortunately, the title of the essay immediately contradicts this goal; it already assumes that this is a one-sided issue because “educators often have it wrong.”

I could respectfully refute many of the examples in the piece and suggest that there may be other variables at play. Then, to highlight this polarization even further, the authors provide situational binaries that describe parents’ positions in one way and the schools in another, throwing a spotlight on differences. A rebuttal piece may offer right-leaning parents further explanation about why some educators feel as they do. In fact, this is how “40 percent or more of the nation can wind up feeling maligned or misunderstood.” As one example of the differences, the authors cite parents who are concerned that books in school expose their children to undesirable, “sexually explicit” text. But what if parents (right and left) listened carefully to one another, leading to places in which they, in fact, might agree.

Again, the solution is only considered in binary terms: The educator sees it this way and the right-leaning parent sees it another way.

I saw no solutions here or a desire to be a partner in bridging the gap; rather it was a defensive posture on the authors’ position.

Deborah Shea
Professor & Educational Leadership Program Director
Russell Sage College
Troy, N.Y.

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A version of this article appeared in the April 17, 2024 edition of Education Week as Don’t Politicize Parenting. We Need Bridges, Not Fences

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