Yaron Debates: Battle of Ideas Panel: Revolting Parents Lessons from The Schoolgates—Woke education

Live discussion from the Battle of Ideas 2022 with Yaron Brook, Christina Jordan, Toby Marshall, Nancy McDermott & Jo-Anne Nadler.

When American children began remote learning during the pandemic, many parents received the shock of their lives. Rather than a focus on proficiency in reading, maths, and history, many found that lesson content was geared towards issues of race, gender, climate change and other political issues.

History classes claimed that America’s founding ideals were ‘false when they were written’ and that the American Revolution was fought to preserve slavery. Classes used Critical Race Theory (CRT) to teach children about systemic racism and ‘white privilege’. Others were reportedly told that sex was simply something ‘assigned at birth’.

In response, groups of protesting parents began raising their concerns in school meetings. They have since been smeared as ‘dangerous authoritarians’ and ‘white supremacists’ by the media – even characterized as ‘domestic terrorists’ by the Biden administration. Despite this backlash, these parents are swinging elections, and forcing schools to change tack on everything from mask mandates to decolonization.

Is this movement likely to be replicated in the UK? Certainly, groups of parents are now demanding to see the material used in, for example, sex-education lessons, fearful about the promotion of gender ideology. This push led the Department for Education to publicly back parental access to course materials. But are all parental curriculum protests positive? What about those parents who took over the gates at Batley Grammar School forcing a teacher into hiding for showing an image of the Prophet Mohammed in class?

The parent-teacher relationship is clearly under strain. Parents from Boston to Bolton are starting to question how schools are educating their children. But is there a danger that pushy parents, with their own agendas, could determine curriculum content? Or is the lesson from the US that parents should be trusted to safeguard children’s education?

Yaron Brook, chairman of the board, Ayn Rand Institute; host, The Yaron Brook Show; co-author, In Pursuit of Wealth: the moral case for finance
Christina Jordan, commentator on diversity policies; former Brexit Party MEP
Toby Marshall, film studies teacher; member, AOI Education Forum
Nancy McDermott, author, The Problem with Parenting: how raising children is changing across America; former adviser to Park Slope Parents
Jo-Anne Nadler, political commentator; campaigner, Don’t Divide Us
CHAIR: Christopher Beckett, religious education teacher, Holy Family Catholic School; writer; educationalist
PRODUCER: Claire Fox, director, Academy of Ideas; independent peer, House of Lords; author, I STILL Find That Offensive!

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