|I am concerned about what my 4th-grade child is learning in her classroom. Do I have the right to look at the material she is exposed to and if so, how do I go about getting it?
The Liberty Council (www.lc.org) points out that in the 1983 case of Franz v. United States, a federal court ruled, “Among the most important of the liberties accorded... special treatment is the freedom of a parent and child to maintain, cultivate, and mold their ongoing relationship....The constitutional interest in the development of parental and filial bonds free from governmental interference has many avatars. It emerges in a parent’s right to control the manner in which his child is reared and educated and in the child’s corresponding right not to have the content of his instruction prescribed by the state.”
In the 1965 case of Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court favorably referred to the importance of a parent to control his child's education. In order to properly control your child's education you must, first, know what that education is.
Hopefully, you won't need to refer to court cases to gain access to all the instructional material used with your child. Try this approach first: go to the teacher and politely request to see the material in question. For instance, if you are concerned about sensitive subjects such as sex education, you can ask to review films, videos, and any software as well as textbooks and photocopied handouts.
It is better to approach the teacher with the attitude that everything is fine, and you want to stay on top of your child's education in order to be an involved parent.
In most instances, this will be the key that unlocks the door to the material your child is taught. But, remember, reviewing your child's instructional material is your right. Don't be intimidated by an educator who is reluctant to help you and simply expects you to trust him. While your request can be viewed as conveying a lack of trust, it can also be viewed as a desire to have absolute confidence in the teacher.
If the teacher or principal prevents you from seeing all the material used in the classroom, you can check your state's laws regarding parental access to classroom material. To find out your states laws, call your department of education or your state Attorney General's office. You can also find the laws in a public library or ask for help from the state legislator who represents you.
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