Today in a guest post on Valerie Strauss’ Washington Post Education blog, I argue that these kinds of laws just won’t work. In this post, I allow myself to get a little more strident than I usually do on these pages. I argue that rules allowing parents and families to opt out of school rules a la carte just won’t work. Nor are they new. In the 1920s, anger at and fear of a steamrolling anti-religious curriculum drove the first anti-evolution campaign. In the 1970s and 1980s, in places such as Kanawha County, West Virginia, and Hawkins County, Tennessee, battles over school curriculum led to a new generation of conservative school activists.
The maturation of that generation can be seen in laws and amendments such as those in Missouri and Tennessee. I am deeply sympathetic to parents who don’t want schools to dictate hostile ideas to their children. But putting up a wall of separation around each individual student just won’t work.