Michigan Democratic Party walks back education statement

HOUGHTON — The Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) social media page on Monday posted a message in which it announced its deleting a previous post, but did not apologize for its content. The post, which appeared this past weekend read:

“Not sure where this ‘parents-should-control-what-is-taught-in-schools-because-they-are-our-kids’ is originating, but parents do have the option to choose and send their kids to a hand-selected private school at their own expense if this is what they desire.”

The post went on to state that the purpose of public education in a public school is not to teach students what parents want them to be taught.

“It is to teach them what society needs them to know,” the post stated. “The client of the public school is not the parent, but the entire community, the public.”

The MDP on Monday tried to walk back the post by publishing a follow-up statement, but neither attempted to clarify the previous post or apologize for it, nor did it offer an explanation for how it came to post a statement it claims does not represent its party members.

“We have deleted a post that ignored the important role parents play–and should play–in Michigan public schools,” the second post stated. “Parents need to have a say in their children’s education, end of story. The post does not reflect the views of Michigan Democrats and should not be misinterpreted as a statement of support from our elected officials or candidates.”

It was the initial weekend post that received the backlash.

Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) Executive Director Beth DeShone on Monday asked Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, Attorney General Dana Nessel, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson and legislative Democrats in Lansing to denounce and repudiate the weekend Michigan Democratic Party statement that claimed parents – especially low-income parents – do not deserve a voice on what is taught in their children’s school, and that “the client of the public school is not the parent, but… the public,” the GLEP website stated.

According to its website, the Great Lakes Education Project (GLEP) is a bipartisan, non-profit advocacy organization supporting quality choices in public education for all Michigan students. GLEP strongly supports efforts to improve academic achievement, increase accountability and empower parental choice in our schools.

The organization consists of: the Great Lakes Education Project, a 527 Political Action Committee; the Great Lakes Education Foundation, a c(3) education organization; and the GLEP Education Fund, a c(4) advocacy organization.

“The Michigan Democratic Party might not get it, but no one knows what a child needs most like his or her parents,” said DeShone in the GLEP statement. “The Party’s classist attack on low-income and other parents is absolutely astonishing – and very telling. Public school is about kids, not Democrats’ political policy agenda. Parents are demanding Gretchen Whitmer and other key elected Democrats reject this educational extremism and hold their party accountable.”

Bill Azelton of the Saginaw County Republican Party said in a statement that appears on the MDP social media page:

“The Michigan Democratic Party just clarified that they believe that the government controls your children, and that you have no right to any say in that,” Azelton stated. “‘It is to teach them what society needs them to know.’ Or Rather, ‘It is to indoctrinate them in our radical agenda.’

“My fellow Republicans, our opposition is dangerous. We must be united, because we must defeat them in 2022 and beyond.”

The Detroit News on Monday reported that Republicans blasted the message over the weekend, noting that Michigan’s revised school code said determining and directing the education and teaching of a child is the “natural fundamental right of parents and legal guardians.”

The revised school code states:

380.10 Rights of parents and legal guardians; duties of public schools.

Sec. 10.

It is the natural, fundamental right of parents and legal guardians to determine and direct the care, teaching, and education of their children. The public schools of this state serve the needs of the pupils by cooperating with the pupil’s parents and legal guardians to develop the pupil’s intellectual capabilities and vocational skills in a safe and positive environment.

The Detroit News article stated that Senate Majority Leader Mike Shirkey, R-Clarklake took to Twitter to condemn the MDP social media statement.

“This is a slap in the face of parents who might not have the means to afford private school but who still expect and DESERVE a say in the education of their children,” Shirkey is quoted as saying.

Oakland County Conservative businessman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin Rinke aslo took to Twitter to condemn the statement.

“This deep disdain for parents is exactly why our elected officials have failed our children,” Rinke said. “The Michigan Democratic Party believes bureaucrats and progressive extremists know what’s best for our children, and that parents should have no say.”

Whitmer, Rinke said, needs to condemn the rhetoric today.

“This nonsense coming out of Gov. Whitmer’s team will end when I lead our great state,” Rinke said.

The Detroit News report also stated that “The Saturday Facebook post followed months of heated Michigan school board meeting debates about pandemic school closures, student mask mandates and the possibility of teaching critical race theory.”


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