Thursday, February 1, 2007

A Letter You Can Send To School

If your child attends a public school and you wish to retain some parental rights while encouraging good school relationships to continue, this might be of use to you. Parents can have a measure of control as to what their children are exposed to in their school by simply sending a letter to be placed in their child's file. The type of letter that I am talking about is the Hatch Amendment Letter and this is a revised sample. The original sample letter was crafted by Senator Orrin Hatch’s (R. Utah) office.

An excerpt of the letter states:
We would like to address the issue of our ability to review classroom material via this letter. Our desire is that we are able to review materials and address issues with our child concurrent with the curriculum and within the framework of our family, as well as having the appropriate knowledge to discern the curriculum’s alignment or lack thereof with our family’s beliefs.

Under U.S. legislation and court decision, parents have the primary responsibility for their children’s education, and students have certain rights that the school may not deny. Parents have the right to be assured that the schools do not unknowingly or knowingly impair or weaken the student’s beliefs, moral values and belief systems within his or her family unit. A student has the right to hold his or her values and moral standards without direct or indirect manipulation by the schools through curricula, textbooks, and AV material or supplementary assignments. Schools and families successfully working together as partners in education and communication of curriculum content will further strengthen the ability to provide students an excellent education in a way that strengthens individual families and our community.

Under the Hatch Amendment, we hereby request that our child not be involved in any school activity or material listed below unless we have first reviewed all the relevant material and given our written consent for their use.

Values clarification, use of moral dilemmas, discussion of religious or moral standards, role playing, open-ended discussions of situations involving moral issues, survival games including life/death decision exercises, contrived incidents for self-revelation, sensitivity training, group encounter sessions, talk-ins, magic circle techniques, self-evaluation, auto-criticism, strategies designed for self-disclosure including the keeping of a diary, journal or log book, sociograms, sociodramas, psychodramas, blindfolded walks, isolation techniques, death education including abortion, euthanasia, suicide, use of violence, discussions of death and dying, curricula or books and reading materials pertaining to religious beliefs, drugs and alcohol, nuclear war, nuclear policy, nuclear classroom games, globalism, one world government, curricula discussing anti-nationalistic views, evolution, discussion and testing on interpersonal relationship, discussions of attitudes towards parents and parenting, health education including human development, and education in human sexuality including birth control and pre-marital sex.

Psychological and psychiatric treatment or adult and peer counseling that is designed to affect behavioral, emotional or attitudinal characteristics of an individual or designated to elicit information about attitudes, habits, traits, opinions, beliefs, or feelings of an individual or group.
There is more to the letter. You can say that you don't wish to have your child participate in mental health screening and other similar surveys. You can, of course, make whatever other modifications that you see fit. Seems to me though, that with the list they present on this model letter there doesn't seem to be much that the school would have left to teach from their current curriculum! (grin) It begs the question... Why don't the schools just stick to teaching academics like reading, writing, and mathematics?

Since not everyone can, or desires to, homeschool their children, this may be a means for a parent to still have a measure of control over their child's education or at least have their wishes regarding their child's curriculum be known and placed in their child's files/record at school.

2 comments:

Elisheva Hannah Levin said...

Uh--Judy, how could history be taught without reference to religious beliefs? I mean one would have a hard time teaching about why the Puritans founded Massachussets without some reference to religion?

Could the child read literature? When I was a teacher (before I homeschooled), I taught Great Books and one of the selections was IBS's short story, The Power of Light, which did make reference to Hannukah. The point of the story was much broader than that, but it was mentioned. Could high school students read "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" since the narrator speaks of Francie's pride in being Catholic and her prayers in the church her grandfather helped build?

Sounds like everyone will just have to homeschool! :)

Judy Aron said...

Oh yeah - I absolutely hear what you are saying, and had the same thoughts. Of course lots of history cannot be taught without discussing religion.

The point of the post though was just to present the fact that such a letter is possible and legal, and that parents do have a say in what curriculum their kids are exposed to in school. For example, they just might not wish to have their kids in 3rd grade participate in sex education presentations etc.

Of course if most everything that is taught is offensive - then one would have to seriously consider homeschooling. :)