An elementary-school principal in Washington State threatened to punish young children if their parents did not show up to a school event or provide an excuse, according to media reports. While the official was eventually forced to walk back his bizarre threats, analysts and veteran teachers said the comments were a troubling indication of what is to come if citizens do not resist the trends.
The saga began when Principal Ralph Wisner of Thompson Elementary School in Bethel became angry that more parents did not attend his event for 3rd grade parents and teachers. In response to the poor attendance — less than 20 percent of the 3rd graders’ parents came — Wisner demanded that students provide written notes from their parents explaining their lack of attendance.
“In the note, please explain why you were not here and let me know that you will be at the Parent Night on Monday,” read a letter sent home with the children. “If your child comes to school tomorrow with no note, they will serve a double detention (recess and lunch). If they do not come on Monday with the note, they will again have a double detention (recess and lunch).”
“We are a team, and unfortunately, too many of you let down our kids, and your child tonight,” Wisner continued. “I do recognize that your child is being punished for you not coming to the parent night, but if we do not work together now and in the future, then your child will be the one who pays the price when they do not have the sklls [sic] required to graduate from high school or college.”
More than a few parents were shocked, and outraged, that their children would be punished. “I was completely shocked,” said one working mother of four who spoke to KING 5 News, a local outlet, adding that her child had never been in trouble. “My child should not ever be in detention or anything because I can’t get out of work.”
Following a wave of parental outrage, the principal eventually withdrew the threat and apologized. “My intent was to convey to you the importance of us working as a team in education [sic] of your child,” Wisner said.
Mary Black, a veteran teacher who spent decades in the classroom before helping to lead FreedomProject Academy, was troubled by the letter. “It seems that the principal doesn’t understand that the parents are not answerable to him. He is answerable to them,” Black explained.
And if parents and taxpayers do not take action, the trend will continue to become even more alarming. “This is an example of the control that educrats want to exert over families,” Black added. “Parents need to understand that this is the intended impact of ESSA [the Every Student Succeeds Act] in all schools.”
Principal Wisner may have had the best of intentions. And parents should certainly be much more involved. In fact, even the idea of a “partnership” between parents and government is troubling. In a free society, parents should be leading on education, with government serving as an agent of the parents, at most, rather than a “partner.”
With government schools now trying to control parents, too, the trends are clear and ominous. Americans must recognize the danger of governments’ perpetual expansion of power — and they must resist if faith, freedom, and family are going to survive the accelerating onslaught.