MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Dear Conservatives: It’s Time to Separate School and State – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on January 7, 2022

Nikole Hannah-Jones, of the New York Times‘ fact-deficient 1619 Project, let the mask drop completely

“I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press” – as if this was a suggestion recently floated and not the entire basis on which the government-run school system fools parents into believing that teachers and administrators give a damn what they think.

https://www.fff.org/explore-freedom/article/dear-conservatives-its-time-to-separate-school-and-state/

by Scott McPherson

For decades, so-called “progressives” and other leftists have claimed that elected local school boards give parents control over education. Everyone knows it’s a lie, but few have had the courage to speak up. Still, the delusion persists. On the day after Christmas, Nikole Hannah-Jones, of the New York Times‘ fact-deficient 1619 Project, let the mask drop completely.Let parents and families find the best school without government interference
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“I don’t really understand this idea that parents should decide what’s being taught,” she told NBC’s “Meet the Press” – as if this was a suggestion recently floated and not the entire basis on which the government-run school system fools parents into believing that teachers and administrators give a damn what they think. “We send our children to school because we want them to be taught by people who have expertise in the subject area.”

No, Ms. Hannah-Jones, children go to school to learn fundamental skills, like reading, writing, and arithmetic. Across the nation, “public” schools are failing to deliver – despite their large staffs of credentialed faculty. Schools are instead expensive indoctrination centers, “day jails for kids,” as John Holt once wrote, completely hostile to parents and focused on promoting mind-destroying concepts like “gender fluidity,” “critical race theory,” “restorative justice,” “psychoeducation,” and other modern tenets of Marxist ideology. Still claiming otherwise is the height of perfidy.

Hannah-Jones’ view of parental involvement is no outlier. Pennsylvania’s governor, Tom Wolf (D-Teachers Unions), recently vetoed a bill that would have put curricula online, and in Scottsdale, Arizona, the school board is actually conducting opposition research on uppity parents. Scariest of all, the National School Boards Association, the Department of Justice, and the White House all colluded to brand protesters at school board meetings (read: concerned parents and taxpayers) as domestic terrorists! What was once said quietly at cocktail parties is now becoming public policy.

Most people are (finally) waking up. A survey by Free to Learn found majorities expressing concern over the politicization of schools and access to curricula. Sixty-seven percent support the ability of parents to exempt students from anything they believe is “harmful or inappropriate,” and a resounding 81 percent said they were “concerned” about the overall quality of education children are receiving – 48 percent saying they were “very concerned.” Driven in part by COVID-19 hysteria, an exodus from government schools to private and religious schools is currently underway, and according to the Census Bureau, the percentage of homeschooled students has more than tripled in the last year.

Conservatives are the most alarmed by the state of public schools, and with good reason. Right-leaning ideas, individuals, and organizations in schools are treated with hostility, while leftist insanity goes unchecked. For example, in Michigan’s Farmington Public Schools, students are encouraged to join Black Lives Matter protests and to “donate to bail efforts” for those arrested. The Mankato School Board in Minnesota voted unanimously in favor of “additional” pay for non-white teachers. A teacher in Paso Robles, California, told members of a high school Conservative Club to “jump off a bridge.” Taft High School in Chicago denied students the opportunity to form a chapter of Turning Point USA.

Unfortunately, conservatives are drawing the wrong conclusions. The trend seems to be in favor of taking over schools, believing this will improve quality. In a commentary for RedState, Kira Davis told her readers, “It’s time to get unpleasant.”

“There’s no playing nice with these people. The whole thing has gotten out of hand, and we parents are to blame. We got too comfortable. We believed the people we elected to our school boards were on our side. After all, they are our neighbors, they are our fellow citizens. These aren’t hardened politicians. They’re local concerned citizens who want to serve.

“But we were wrong. They are not just regular citizens. They are not on our side. They are not here to serve.”

Davis is correct, but her prescription that conservatives should run for school board positions is flawed. “I say the time has come to cause trouble and keep causing it until we get what we want,” she writes. A few states, like Arizona, Florida, Missouri, and Tennessee, are considering making school board elections partisan. Another mistake is so-called “parental rights” bills being considered in state legislatures. The conservative group U.S. Parents Involved in Education, which lobbies for an end to federal meddling in education, warned that the actual language in these laws could undermine the stated intent.

Conservatives who want to “take back our schools” or implement a system of “school choice,” are certainly acting in good faith; they genuinely want good schools where kids can learn and where teachers and administrators respect parents’ values. But viewing parents as “customers” is simply misguided when the government is running the show. In this politicized atmosphere, every decision related to a child’s education is a zero-sum game: one side must lose in order for the other to win. A sense of triumph over political enemies may bring temporary gratification, but that will soon evaporate when the “other side” wins the next election. It is in the marketplace alone where diverse demands can be met without one side losing.

If conservatives want better schools, they really should “cause trouble, and keep causing it.” What is missing is an accurate assessment of what that requires. Many political analysts are predicting a swing to the right in the years ahead, which could well place conservatives in positions where they have an opportunity to radically alter the status quo. Nothing could better guarantee an end to the monolithic power of teachers’ unions and government-school bureaucracies, and a rebirth of quality education in America, than a complete separation of school and state.

Let parents and families find the best school without government interference. That’s real choice.

This post was written by: Scott McPherson

Scott McPherson is a policy adviser at the Future of Freedom Foundation, and author of Freedom and Security: The Second Amendment and the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. An advocate of the Free State Project, he lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

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