Know Your Rights
Parents, you have a right to know everything your children are taught. It is important…
Parents, thank you for having the courage to advocate for your children. Communicating with school leadership about concerns you have is your right, and you are protected by law against retaliation.
Here’s how to get started:
Ask them about the books they are reading in class, what is being read to them in class, and what they discussed that day. Help your children understand your family’s values and what is okay and not okay for them to be taught in school. Teach your children to trust their instincts. Take photographs of the content that is causing you concern, download written documents whenever possible, and document anything that might be helpful to support your concerns.
If your children have shared troubling curriculum materials or literature with you, bring those concerns to their teacher. Give the teacher a chance to explain his or her perspective. Don’t attack. Document your correspondence either in writing or through recording — Minnesota allows recordings if one party (you) consents to the recording.
“I am concerned the materials being used in the classroom don’t promote dignity and respect of all students. Would you be open to discussing this further?”
“My child showed me the book the class is currently reading, and I am concerned it undermines a positive classroom community. Is there an alternative lesson my student can do instead?”
If your children’s teacher is dismissive of your concerns, or if you are unsatisfied with the teacher’s response, reach out to the school principal. Document your correspondence either in writing or through recording — Minnesota allows recordings if one party (you) consents to the recording.
“I spoke with my child’s teacher about a book I found concerning, but the teacher got defensive and didn’t want to discuss it further. Could we explore alternative lessons my child could complete or consider having my child transferred to another class?”
“My child participated in a classroom activity that focused on racial groups either being oppressors or victims. Do you believe people should be treated differently in our school based on the color of their skin?”
If the school principal unsatisfactorily addresses your concerns, escalate to the district superintendent. Document your correspondence either in writing or through recording — Minnesota allows recordings if one party (you) consents to the recording.
“I have attempted to speak with my child’s teacher and school principal regarding concerns I have with some of the curriculum and subject matter being taught in the classroom. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel like my concerns were heard. Could we discuss how the material at hand fits into school policy?”
“After speaking with my child’s teacher, I am concerned that how certain subject matters are being taught in the classroom violate state statute, specifically the Code of Ethics for Minnesota Teachers and a teacher’s commitment to not suppress or distort subject matter. Could we discuss this further?”
“I have received communication from school leadership stating the school is systemically racist. What specific incidents led to this statement being made and what actions were taken?”
Attend school board meetings and curriculum meetings. Bring other parents with you — it is easy to dismiss the concerns of one parent, but much harder to ignore two, 10 or 20. Find out if the school board approved the literature, curriculum, or program you find concerning. If they did not, request that the inappropriate materials be removed from the classroom. If they did approve it, request that they remove it from the approved list. All curriculum is a local decision, not a state decision. Document your correspondence either in writing or through recording — Minnesota allows recordings if one party (you) consents to the recording.
“According to our district policy, curricula should be standards-aligned, balanced, and nonpartisan. The book my child is reading does not align with this policy, was not properly reviewed by the school board, and should be removed.”
“I am concerned that the district’s priorities are shifting away from academic excellence. As a parent of a third grader who moved to the area for the schools, I am asking the school board to reconsider this new program.”
“I am concerned about the school’s announcement that it is focused on being ‘antiracist.’ Antiracism explicitly condones a cycle of retaliatory discrimination. According to the leader of the antiracism movement, Ibram X. Kendi, ‘the only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.’ What policies will the school specifically adopt to become “antiracist”?
Most districts adopt the Minnesota School Board Association (MSBA) model policies, which include education program policies numbered in the 600s that contain specific policies on curriculum and instruction goals and curriculum development. A quick search for these policies on a district’s website will allow you to review each policy and identify whether the materials or curriculum in question violate school policy and any Minnesota state statutes it may be tied to. When voicing concern to school leadership, citing a school policy violation is an effective way to push back.