Today, July 26, 2022, many parents showed up to testify before the House Committee on Public Education about what is happening in their schools, and what we see as barriers to parents partnering with schools for the education of their children.

Unfortunately, we found that our ability to participate here was barriered by 14 panels of invited witnesses before parents—who represent the end users of our educational system—got to speak.

These parents are missing their opportunity to be heard, essentially silenced, due to needing to get back to their children later today.

We want our schools to be exemplary. We want our schools to be the rallying point for our communities. Unfortunately, and thanks largely to state policies, this is not the case.

We cannot, will not, partner with a public education system that insists on straying out of its lane into private and personal issues that should be the province of parents and the churches and community organizations they choose.

To wit:

We object to surveys asking our children about anything from emotions, feelings, depression, anxiety, whether they feel loved at home, or any number of other non-academic and very personal issues.

We believe our schools are solely for their students. They are not a marketplace, as the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center Department of Psychiatry has stated. They are not an industry. They are not a seat of political power.

We object to awareness campaigns that focus our children’s attention on non-academic subjects.

We are horrified that any elementary school would choose to screen a student for such an upsetting issue as suicide without parental consent and involvement. And yet at least one school district discloses in their student/parent handbook that they do this. Texas Education Agency also recommended such a protocol.

We object to our children being encouraged to “seek help” from counselors without parental involvement and consent.

We all want our children to excel. We all want our schools to be safe. We all appreciate the hard work done every day by regular teachers who have been called to this profession.

We encourage the Legislature to return our schools to families and the children they represent, and the sacred relationship between parents and their children.

We believe that we are our children’s first teachers, their first protectors.

We support the proposition that parents have a fundamental right to direct the upbringing, education, health, and mental health care of their children. As a fundamental right, this should not be infringed upon without due process and a narrowly defined compelling state interest. We believe that those who do infringe should face penalties.

We, the undersigned, ask you to join us in making these fundamental rights a fact.

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Lee Spiller

Lee Spiller is the executive director of the Citizens Commission on Human Rights–Texas, a mental health watchdog group.