Helicopter parenting gets new meaning in New Hampshire

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The New Hampshire state legislature just passed a bill that gives parents the right to request personalized curriculum changes for their children. Some states already have laws enabling parents to opt their child out of sex ed or subjects that aren't aligned with their religious beliefs. But New Hampshire's legislation requires schools to go a step further: if a parent objects to any part of a lesson or subject matter, then the school has to come up with alternatives for the child (the parent is at least required to foot the bill). The governor vetoed the original bill, but the legislature overturned it; the new law has since become the subject of much debate.

It's likely most of the objections will be over sex ed and evolution, but the law itself was inspired by a parent's objection to the book Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich (a worthwhile examination of minimum wage America). Most parents will not go to the trouble of objecting to phonics instruction or double digit subtraction, or the method by which either is taught, but it is theoretically possible. We could, however, see parents say things like multiculturalism is overused, the holocaust was overstated, or the civil rights movement was a mistake.

While schools shouldn't be platforms for teachers to share their political views, they also can't constantly answer to the whims of parents. Teachers already differentiate their instruction toward different levels, IEPs, 504s, and other accommodations. Differentiation based on parents' political leanings is not what public schools are designed to accomplish.

Tom Byrne