News Story

Michigan Democratic Party: ‘The Client Of The Public Schools Is Not The Parent’

Post on party’s Facebook page echoes view of former Virginia Governor

Editor's note: After this story was published, the Michigan Democratic Party retracted the post and issued this statement:
“We have deleted a post that ignored the important role parents play—and should play—in Michigan public schools. 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.”

The Michigan Democratic Party posted a meme on its Facebook page Saturday, questioning whether parents who send their children to public schools have any right to control what is taught there.

“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 to send their kids to a hand-selected private school at their own expense if this is what they desire,” read the post (emphasis in the original).

The post appeared on what is called “The Official Facebook Page of the Michigan Democratic Party.” The page states it is under the control of the Michigan Democratic State Central Committee.

The message continued: “The purpose of a public education in a public schools is not to teach kids only what parents want them to be taught. It is to teach them what society needs them to know. The client of the public schools is not the parent, but the entire community, the public” (emphasis in the original).

Michigan law contains language suggesting something different, however, which was pointed out in a user comment posted on the same Facebook page. Stephanie Buikema, an employee of Rockford Public Schools, cited Section 380.10 of the Michigan Revised School Code. It states:

“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 manner.”

“Michigan Democratic Party,” Buikema wrote, “you should familiarize yourselves with the document.”

The Michigan Democratic Party’s Facebook post has similarities to the statement made by former Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, who was running for a second nonconsecutive term in 2021. In a campaign debate, he made comments about schools that many political insiders say cost him the election.

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” McAuliffe said. Republican Glenn Youngkin won the election.

Michigan Capitol Confidential is the news source produced by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. Michigan Capitol Confidential reports with a free-market news perspective.