The Tennessee Department of Education issued a letter this weekend completely withdrawing child wellbeing guidance that last week caused a tremendous outcry due to parental rights and family privacy concerns.
That letter, addressed to the Tennessee legislature and forwarded to us by one of our friends there, is attached here.
Last week’s policy guidance, created by the Child Wellbeing Task Force, set a goal for government agents to make contact with every child in the state. We cautioned that such a policy, if adopted, would threaten the right of parents to be presumed to act in their own child’s best interests. The policy would have treated every parent like a suspected child abuser.
The response letter states, “Governor Lee has asked our department to remove the guidance document and go back to the drawing board so we get this right.
“I want to assure you that we recognize the concerns that you and your constituents share, and we realize why those concerns exist…. I also acknowledge the vast difference between providing support for vulnerable children as opposed to any potential overreach into what parents determine is best for their children.”
(Their stated intention of providing support for vulnerable children is, tragically, necessary and a valid goal for state government.)
At this point, we have every reason to believe the letter is sincere, and that future steps to protect vulnerable children will not intrude on the rights of fit, loving parents to uphold their family’s privacy. We count this as a win for parental rights and for all families in your state.
In Tennessee as in every other state, however, we must remain vigilant against such threats as may arise in the future.
Thank you for standing with us to protect children by empowering parents, in Tennessee and across the country.