The issue of parent rights has emerged as part of a larger strategy to control what topics can be taught in school and which books students can read. Teacher professionalism has been pushed aside as Republican politicians advance legislation to protect parent rights.

Jan Resseger points out that basic parent rights already exist: parents can decide whether to enroll their child in a public or private school. But the issue becomes heated when politicians seek to give parents power over curriculum, reading lists, and teaching.

The issue of parent rights is directly related to the manufactured controversy of “critical race theory” and conflicts over COVID protocols. “Parent rights” politicizes decisions about mask mandates and vaccinations. Some very noisy parents insist that they can send their children to school without masks or vaccines. Their “right” to ignore public health requirements puts other children’s safety at risk. Similarly, rightwing ideologues are using the CRT issue to claim that parents have the right to control or censor what their children are taught.

Children too have rights, she maintains, and among them are the right to learn free of outside political interference.