By Published: Jan. 20, 2016

Young students

Philosophers and education experts get together to discuss the issues faced by parents of school-aged children.

How does parental choice affect public education? On Wednesday, Jan. 27, a panel of scholars from the University of Colorado Boulder School of Education and the Center for Values and Social Policy will tackle the legal and philosophical issues parents face as they make decisions related to state testing, vaccinations and school choice.

The panel discussion, “Choosing, Refusing, and Opting Out: Parents’ Rights in Public Education,” is free and open to public and will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in the Canyon Theater at the Boulder Public Library, 1001 Arapahoe Ave.

Panelists and topics include:

  • Kristen Davidson, postdoctoral researcher for the National Center for Research in Policy and Practice, on how parents in the Boulder area choose schools and the consequences of choice processes and outcomes for public education in a democratic society;
  • Adam Hosein, CU-Boulder assistant professor of philosophy, on parents’ rights related to opting out of vaccinations and the impact of those choices on public schools;
  • Kevin G. Welner, director of the National Education Policy Center, on the legal precedents and issues involved in claims about parents’ rights in public education;
  • Terri Wilson, CU-Boulder assistant professor of educational foundations, on policy and practice regarding philosophical issues and tensions that are emerging in the movement to opt out of tests.

The panel will be moderated by Michele Moses, CU-Boulder professor of educational foundations, policy and practice, and attendees will be invited to an interactive question-and-answer period following the panelists’ remarks. Interested community members are also encouraged to join the conversation via social media. Some of the Twitter questions tagged with the hashtag #EdChatCU will be incorporated into the Q&A.

“National movements about opting out of tests or vaccines are especially prominent in Colorado,” Moses said. “In the Boulder Valley School District alone, 65 percent of high school students refused the PARCC English Language Arts test last year.”

Moses added that these are issues that matter to public education, students and their parents.

“We are excited about the opportunity to spark an engaging community conversation about the moral and political implications of choosing, refusing and opting out in a public education context.”

The panel is co-sponsored by the CU-Boulder Center for Values and Social Policy, Office for Outreach and Engagement and School of Education.

“The philosophy department is particularly pleased to be collaborating with the School of Education on this important event,” said David Boonin, department chair and associate director of the department’s Center for Values and Social Policy. “This is a great chance to bring philosophers and education experts together to discuss a set of issues that are both philosophically interesting and practically important.”

For more information, visit or call 303-492-9019.

Julie Poppen is a senior news editor for the CU Office of News Services.