School is back in session, and teachers are already voicing frustration about the same problem they've faced since time out of mind: lack of parental involvement.

Most Cherokee County parents are engaged. They show up for open houses and parent-teacher conferences, and help their children with homework and school projects. But a few bad apples don't care about the quality of the applesauce they're producing for the next generation.

There's no question that parents today are juggling a number of responsibilities. Despite boasting from certain quarters about how great the economy is, many Americans work two and three jobs to make ends meet. Sometimes they're too exhausted to invest as much time in their children as they need to. Good parents soldier on, anyway; those who lack the requisite skills just shrug their shoulders and leave it to the teachers to raise their kids.

That problem has been too common for many years. Parents expect educators to teach their kids reading, writing, arithmetic, history and other disciplines. They want those educators to teach their kids how to succeed on the gridiron, shoot hoops, play musical instruments, and a variety of other skills. And that's where it should stop.

Teachers cannot be substitute parents. They cannot give each child the attention he needs to grow into a mature, self-sufficient adult who is making a contribution to society. And they certainly shouldn't be giving children religious instruction, although the push for them to do so continues relentlessly. Some people, perhaps not as up to snuff on their history as they should be, bemoan the perplexing belief that God has been "kicked out" of schools. They advance the narrative that prayer "isn't allowed" in school. This is patently false. Prayer always has been, and always will be, "allowed" in school as long as the First Amendment remains intact. The only thing the law forbids - via Engel v. Vitale and other cases - is a school's developing its own prayer, or a school employee leading it. Students are free to pray whenever they wish, as well as lead prayer around the flag pole, hold meetings of religious groups, and more.

Think about it: If a prayer is "forced" upon a student by a public school - i.e., a facet of "government" - that would violate the spirit of the First Amendment, which paradoxically affords the right to embrace or reject religion. If Christian parents consider an imam or rabbi "forcing" students to pray, the implications become obvious.

When humans have children, they take on the biggest responsibility of all, and that includes helping teachers educate those kids. It means filling that role ourselves for religion, socialization, and other aspects of life teachers can't address. So show up to your kids' games, concerts, teacher conferences, and ice cream socials. Drop by for lunch in the cafeteria. Keep the lines of communication open. Without your involvement, your kids don't have much of a chance.

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