Niagara Gazette

Columns

January 27, 2014

CONFER: State bill would mandate parenting classes

Niagara Gazette — Three weeks ago a bill was submitted to the state Senate’s education committee that would pose a significant attack on parental rights. S142-2013, sponsored by Ruben Diaz, D-Bronx, and cosponsored by Adraino Espaillat, D-Washington Heights, and John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, would require persons in parental relation with a child of elementary school age to attend parent support programs and complete four workshops, one of which must be related to physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children.

In the bill, as the penalty for non-compliance (or what the lawmakers would consider the reward for compliance), a child’s advancement to the seventh grade is contingent on the parents’ completion of these courses.

The language of the bill expresses its purpose as providing “… parents with educational and support systems that would enhance parenting skills and to provide parents with guidelines and resources necessary to prevent instances of abuse and neglect.”

This bill, the first of its kind, would dictate to parents how to do their job, regardless if they are “bad” parents or “good” ones. It assumes there is a standard, one-size-fits-all approach to parenting that all households should conform to.

As any one will tell you, there isn’t. Each and every family has its own unique chemistry, traditions, norms and culture. That’s what makes each family — and each person – on this planet so interesting, so unique. Sameness is the bane of human development. And it is the symptom of total control.

Not only is the bill a disappointing and insulting assault on parenting (despite its alleged intentions), the impact on the Empire State’s educational infrastructure — and taxpayers — would be unfathomable.

The bill is constructed in such a way that the classes offered to parents could not be presented by the typical places where they might now voluntarily seek out ideas and assistance (churches, parental support groups, county social services, etc.). Instead, the state education commissioner and the Board of Regents are charged to develop a dozen workshops and institute them through our existing school systems.

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