Parents in middle of divergent views |

Parents in middle of divergent views

“Extremism is so easy. You’ve got your position and that’s it. It doesn’t take too much thought. And when you go far enough around to the right, you meet the same idiots coming around from the left.” – Clint Eastwood, Time magazine.

That’s one of the things I like about Clint Eastwood. He has a way of getting to the nut of things when he’s not too busy blowing someone’s head off.

I’m tired of extremists, and I suspect most rational human beings feel the same way. We are sick and tired of every single issue – from Terri Schiavo to parental rights – becoming fodder for the far right and far left in an endless battle for our heart and minds.

Many of the same people who wanted to pull Schiavo’s feeding tube and support abortion are generally the first to scream against the death penalty for cold-blooded killers. “Pull her feeding tube, not his. It’s cruel and unusual punishment!” Selective application of morality. We have 622 inmates on California’s death row, and most of them should have had their feeding tubes removed long ago.

The same people who rant against the fundamentalist Christians don’t seem to have the same concerns with radical Muslims who want most of Western Civilization dead.

Conversely, the far right would have a world where only the wealthy and truly “saved” survive. Where we follow our leaders into battle without question and in the name of freedom. Never mind that freedom is narrowly defined to those who follow the true party line and can afford to go to the dentist.

I thought about this while contemplating the recent flap over the high school’s privacy policy. If you’ve been keeping tabs, you know that a student (grades seven through 12) may leave campus for a medical appointment without parental consent, or notification. The high school district board says it’s the law, in spite of the fact that 30 or so other California school districts have “parent friendly” policies. Those districts probably determined that if they require parental approval for a field trip to the zoo, it’s a good idea to notify parents when their child leaves campus to get some birth control pills or treatment for a sexually transmitted disease.

This issue was brought to light by Nevada County Supervisor Sue Horne, who asked the school board to revisit its policy. She was speaking as a parent and as a supporter of Capitol Resources Institute, a Christian-based, family advocacy group headquartered in Sacramento. Her position and ties to CRI drew the immediate ire of the pro-choice crowd, which gets concerned every time Christians try to push their family values down our throats. Especially when a bunch of “out-of-town” Christians try to do it. So they immediately organized, and even launched their own Web site, to warn us all against the dangers of allowing Christians to tell the school district how to run things.

Somewhere in the middle of all of this are the parents. You know … the ones like me and my wife, who assumed the school district would contact us if they allowed our children to leave campus before school gets out. We assumed that because it seems the schools have to check with us every time our children cough. Some of us are conservative. Some of us are liberal. Most of us, however, are just parents who care about our children and want to know where they are.

It’s not that we don’t understand the need for some students to leave campus for medical reasons without telling mom or dad. As someone recently pointed out on these pages, these are not “Leave It To Beaver” times we live in, where each home has a mom, dad, two kids and a dog. The policy exists because some parents don’t deserve to be parents, so the rest of us must suffer for that. The policy exists for the exception, not the rule, but we pass rules for all. It seems to me the school district ought to be able to make an exception when a student demonstrates a need to seek medical attention without the parent knowing. If, for example, a young woman was raped by her father and needed medical attention, logic ought to dictate that the father probably should not be contacted. In fact, there are supposed to be counselors and school nurses to help deal with those extreme cases.


Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears on Tuesdays. Contact him at 477-4299,, or 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley 95945.

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