Matiak told Bridge that LBGTQ youth should be supported, but students should not know “personal information” about their teachers.
“If I’m a walking billboard for an organization that might be divisive or for things that not everyone will agree with as a professional, that shouldn’t be (a distraction) for my child who is learning English,” she said.
“Parents fell asleep”
Matiak’s activism began during COVID when the administration of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer the first to order schools to be closed in spring 2020 and September 2020. mandatory mask wearing for contact sports such as football, soccer and volleyball in schools.
The blackout and mask restrictions essentially took away school sports from Matiak’s fifth-grade son, who had expressed suicidal thoughts due to isolation in the winter of 2020, she said.
“It was horrible for my kids,” Matiak told Bridge. “When my kid got pulled from sports or when my kids were outside wearing masks and playing soccer, it was just ridiculous.”
Matiak is the president of Huron Valley School Parental Advocates, Inc., a nonprofit organization formed in February, and the administrator of the private Facebook group, Michigan, Save Our Children, Open Our Schools.
The group is now focused on the upcoming elections.
“We really encourage our parents to step up and put their money where their mouth is,” Mathiak said.
“Parents fell asleep for a very long time. And we just circled or ticked the box for local school board candidates,” she added. “We really need people who have skin in the game, and no one has more skin in the game than a parent whose child is actively involved in public school.”
Huron Valley Superintendent Paul Salah told Bridge that the assistant superintendent who oversees finances met with Matiak to answer her questions. The district is audited annually, budget reports are reviewed at board meetings, and the finance and operations committees meet twice a month.
All are open to the public and the district messages online its syllabus, unit calendars and course descriptions for English and Mathematics.
“I would say that Huron Valley schools are unduly high in terms of their transparency,” he said.
How many rights?
Michiganders are in favor of stronger parental controls cited the 1976 revised state school code — the law deeming it a “natural, fundamental right” for Michigan parents to “determine and direct the care, training, and education of their children.”
“PARENTS’ RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE EDUCATION OF THEIR CHILDREN!” Candidate for Michigan Board of Education Republican Tamara Carlone wrote about it on her Facebook page referring to the law. “SCHOOLS ARE ONE TOOL AND THEY SHOULD COOPERATE WITH PARENTS.”
In reality, public schools are designed to serve all children with different needs, said Jack Schneider, assistant professor of education at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.
Parents can opt their children out of a particular school and choose the school and board of education members, he said. They can also opt out of sex education and, in some areas, move the district across the state “Schools of Choice” program..
“If we’re talking about parents wanting to control every aspect of their children’s education, that’s unfortunately not the system we’ve designed in this country,” Schneider said.
He and others have noted that conservative movements for parental rights have sprung up repeatedly in the United States since The Red Scare in the 1940s which led to mass firings of teachers in response to the “rainbow curriculum» during the 1990s.