One Mother's 'Minority Report'
Even when it is outnumbered, the truth will eventually carry the day
The mother was incredibly confused. She had been invited to join a school committee to evaluate a new, controversial program. She had assumed that other parents would be joining her, but when she arrived she discovered that she was the “token parent” in a group of s c h o o l administrators, counselors, and teachers.
When she asked after the other parents, she was informed that she alone was representing their interests in these deliberations.
She swallowed her misgivings and decided to stay and do her best. The meetings were frustrating. Her questions went unanswered and her research was ignored. It seemed that the outcome of the effort had been decided before she had ever stepped foot into the room; that the endless series of meetings was just a window-dressing of community input covering a pre-arranged administrative decision.
She began to take copious notes: of her questions and their silent response, of the research ignored, of the discussions held, and of the decisions made. At the final working meeting, she wondered what to do with her “scribblings.” The chairman described how the results of the meetings would be written up and presented to the community as the Final Committee Report.
She remembered looking through a Congressional document that listed committee reports on various topics. In each case, there was a Majority and a Minority Report. An idea began to form in her mind.
That night she began to formalize her notes. She worked feverishly to complete her hastily conceived project. When the committee met to sign the final report, she presented her own document—the Minority Report of the Committee, signed by a single member. She sat quietly through the outburst of surprise and anger, and then opened her copy of the Congressional document. She insisted that they change the name of their document from “Report of the Committee” to “Majority Report.”
Both reports were made public. And in the end, the Minority Report was adopted by the school authorities.
In the conflicts currently raging in the schools, many parents and many teachers find themselves in the position of that mother. They are each “the only one.” They are each frustrated by the restructuring juggernaut that ignores research, evades questions, and considers their children the school’ resource instead of the school’ charge. They are each wondering if their constant efforts are making any difference at all.
But the whisper of truth will finally conquer the loudest shouts of falsehood. Every time truth is spoken, someone responds. Sometimes the truth leads a parent to change the educational setting of his own children. Sometimes it inspires a citizen to run for school board or join a committee. Sometimes truth convinces a legislator to change a vote. Whatever the effect, truth is never meaningless.
Even a cursory study of history reveals two interesting patterns. The first is the amazing power of single individuals to change society radically for good or evil. In our own century, Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, and FDR each singly, and through their interactions, remade the political climate of our world. Science had the Wrights, Salk, Bell, Edison, who each made individual discoveries or inventions that fundamentally altered our lives. In fact, in every area of endeavor or interest, it is the single individual who exerts the greatest influence.
The second is that eventually the truth prevails. Witness the spread of the Gospel throughout the world. With nothing but the truth spoken in love, the Gospel message has proven stronger than any political, economic, or military force arrayed against it. The same holds true in the realm of government and its policies. The human spirit craves freedom, and those who speak in its name eventually succeed.
Sometimes the actions of the bureaucracy are instructive. They have gone to great lengths to rewrite history, denying our children the knowledge of their American heritage. They also preach what they have termed the “theology of collectivism”—the religion of group-think. They appear to be desperately attempting to protect their agenda from the two most powerful forces in history—the appeal of the truth, and the irresistible power of one individual who speaks it.
Peg Luksik, a mother of six, is president of the National Parent’ Commission. This article is reprinted with permission fromCrisis in Education.
- January 10-16, 1999