For quite some time I've had a problem with public schools sidelining parents and stepping out of their defined roles. A teacher should be left to teach and leave the raising of and caring for a child up to the parent.

There are so many examples of NJ public schools taking over the role of parents but I'll just give one.

Character Ed.

Character Education is stepping beyond math and science, beyond language arts and social studies. It brings true education to a grinding halt and has often unqualified teachers once a month teaching lessons in honesty, lessons in empathy, lessons in kindness, etcetera.

Now a report, Youth at Risk: Substance Misuse and Mental Health is pushing for screening for all students. A questionnaire on their mental health and also concerning substance use. After this, if red flags go up an intervention is done. Counselors are brought in.

Now I know the public education system is going to say they need to do this because not all parents are looking out for their kids. Honestly though, is a brief questionnaire or a once a month Character Ed class going to change the arc of a student's life whose parents are terrible human beings? If a mother and father hasn't taught their child by 8th grade how to get out of their own skin and think about other people's feelings, is a 20 minute lesson going to do a damn thing? If parents haven't looked out for depression and anxiety in their child, or worse, is the school really going to save them? Besides, pediatric checkups now have these questions asked concerning mental health and substance abuse. If the parents aren't even taking their kids to a doctor to begin with, do we as a society really think the school is going to manage to change all that?

The sad fact is a small percentage of kids are always going to have terrible parents who aren't looking out for them. Those kids are usually going to rise above it or be doomed by it. Doomed despite these feel good attempts at public schools as faux parents. Should valuable education time be taken away from 100% of the students for the sake of the occasional awful parent? It's an exercise in tail chasing because a teacher undoing years of bad parenting in a one page questionnaire or a 20 minute class is dubious at best.

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