Don’t Mess With Our Kids!

I’ve looked on in horror at quite a few SchoolBoard meetings from across the country where parents who in large numbers are realizing their children are being indoctrinated in public schools about “all-things far-left.” Those “things” run the gambit from CRT (Critical Race Theory) to same-sex marriage, LGTBQ rights, safe sex while in elementary school, transgenderism, and even how to ignore parents who try to teach kids “real” moral values at home.

What is horrible is how these SchoolBoards are becoming militant in their pushback against these parents! “God forbid a Mom or Dad has a desire to handle the teaching of morality to their kids while at home! That inalienable right now belongs to public school educators and administrators.” Twenty years ago, no one would even bat an eye at that statement. Say that in public today and you’ll be immediately cancelled by everyone from the Vice President to the Pope!

They’re getting bolder in their tug-of-war over who has the primary responsibility for educating our children. But the parents are not going to let go. In the last debate before the November election, Democratic Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe was challenged by Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin about his own veto, in his earlier term as governor, of a bill that would have created an alert for parents when sexual material was present in educational materials. McAuliffe responded that he was proud of his veto: “I’m not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision. I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”

When asked about it later by a local CBS affiliate, McAuliffe doubled down. “Listen, we have a Board of Education working with the local school boards to determine the curriculum for our schools. You don’t want parents coming in in every different school jurisdiction saying this is what should be taught here, and this is what should be taught there.”

Youngkin clearly thinks this is a winning issue. He tweeted that McAuliffe might like to look at what Virginia law says about the rights of parents: “A parent has a fundamental right to make decisions concerning the upbringing, education, and care of the parent’s child.” He also released an ad the next day based on the debate exchange in which he replied to McAuliffe, “You believe school systems should tell children what to do. I believe parents should be in charge of their kids’ education.”

The message from progressive politicians and education bureaucrats, however, is clear: parents ought to have no say in what local public education is about. Terry McAuliffe is not alone in this view. At a hearing of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions, Republican Senator Mike Braun of Indiana asked Education Secretary Miguel Cardona whether parents ought to be considered the “primary stakeholders” in their children’s education. Cardona would only agree that they are “important stakeholders,” but that “educators have a role in determining educational programming.” The refusal to acknowledge parents as primary gives us an indication of which role “educators” have in educational programming: it’s the final word. Parents don’t count.

While teachers used to think of themselves as acting in loco parentis, the Latin phrase meaning in place of the parents who were not present, they now think of themselves having taken over the place of parental authority entirely.

Fortunately, there are still enough parents out there who think this idea is plain crazy. School boards in Virginia and all over the country have been seeing more outraged parents coming to school board meetings to complain about the ways in which their own views are ignored on a whole range of issues, but especially sexual content in curriculum and the use of Critical Race Theory (CRT) as the guiding philosophy of education and its corresponding destruction of educational quality in the name of “equity.” While Democrats and their legacy media and higher ed adjuncts have attempted to brush off this rebellion as some sort of partisan or racist (the all-purpose progressive rebuttal when they have no answers) anger, it’s clear that there are many Americans upset with the way in which American public education has become hazardous to children’s intellectual health.

Alas, on the same day that Secretary Cardona refused to acknowledge parents as primary stakeholders in their children’s education, the National School Boards Association, which claims to represent 90,000 school board members across the country wrote a letter to President Biden asking him to crack down on parents who are upset at mask mandates and the teaching of CRT in schools using every federal agency and statute they could think of, including the Patriot Act. Not only does the letter repeat the laughable notion that schools don’t teach CRT because it is “a complex law school and graduate school subject well beyond the scope of a K-12 class,” but it gives a hint as to which offenses the Feds should be cracking down on. Among incidents in which parents or concerned citizens have actually become violent, they also include incidents in which people have mocked school board members and accused them of attempting to sneak CRT into the curriculum.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names are also a violation of the Patriot Act, according to the Education Blob.

So what are parents to do to fight back against the blob? Trafalgar Polling conducted a nationwide survey in July asking over one thousand parents how they should react if CRT becomes part of the curriculum in their children’s public schools. Overall, 29% of parents said they would teach their children what to believe at home without interfering in the school, almost 28% said they would remove their children from public school and send them to private schools or homeschool them, and 24% said they would work to take over the school board (19% said they had no opinion on the matter). These three options seem to be the main ones available.

Democrats, who made up 39% of the respondents, and those claiming no party/other, were much more likely to say they would just teach their children at home and not interfere (39.9% and 36.2%) than Republicans (12.9%). Republicans were much more likely to take their children out of the schools or try to take over the school board (38.1% and 33.2%) than Democrats (20.9% and 17.9%) or No Party/Other (22.9% and 20.8%).

To put it bluntly, Republicans are more in the right here. Without any effective action, public school bureaucracies will continue to embrace CRT, critical gender theory, and every other destructive fad that comes down the pike. To push back against all this has to be a matter of pushing back—and that involves either getting into their governance (Trafalgar’s third option) or putting pressure on them economically by pulling kids out (the second).

The difficulty with the taking over of school boards is that it takes a lot of time and effort. That doesn’t mean there are not groups out there who are dedicated to doing it. In fact, there are a lot of groups doing it. Ballotpedia has been keeping track of school board recall events since 2006, recording on average about 23 recall efforts against 52 board members per year up to 2020. In 2021, however, they have recorded as of September 71 recall efforts targeting 183 board members. These grassroots efforts to recall board members, win elections, and influence existing boards have been helped out by groups such as Parents Defending Education, a Loudoun County, Virginia, group, and No Left Turn in Education, an organization started by Elana Fishbein in Lower Merion, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia suburb). These groups have themselves been aided by about thirty national conservative organizations and foundations, according to an Associated Press article focusing on efforts in Mequon, Wisconsin (a Milwaukee suburb) to recall board members who have been pursuing divisive “diversity” goals.

In addition to the recall efforts, Politico reports that parents are putting up campaigns for school boards that are explicitly against diversity and oppression curricula. While repeating the “no CRT is really taught here!” lines, the article notes that candidates all over the country are opposing them, many successfully in Ohio, Indiana, and elsewhere. In Houston, all the anti-CRT candidates in a recent school board election won while in Southlake, Texas, two such candidates won with over 70% of the vote. It can be done in many parts of the country.

Many parents, however, do not have the time to both fight City Hall — or its educational equivalent — and make sure their own children are being educated apart from and often against what they’re learning in their public schools. This is why the move to opt-out of public schools has been so great over the last decade. This year, 1.45 million children left the system, a number that was made even greater by so many schools’ determination to stay online. If parents can no longer influence public schools, the best option for them is to take their kids elsewhere. To facilitate this, however, takes money.

That’s why the development of school choice options is so important. Now is the time, given that a RealClearOpinion poll in June showed a striking 74% of American parents support school choice — a full 10% increase since 2020! Perhaps the best development this year has been the passage of HB 2013 in West Virginia, known as the Hope Scholarship program. This education savings account allows students leaving the public school system to take up to $4600 with them to pay for tuition, books, and other costs at private schools or in homeschooling. The American Federation for Children has interactive maps showing the expanded school choice programs in 2021 as well as all those available in the U. S. right now.

Simply helping parents take control over their children’s education where they cannot influence their public schools is a big first step, but one final one remains. State and local governments can work toward building an accountability mechanism into the equation. I mean something guaranteeing local school budgets will be cut when there are lower class sizes. School board members may go along with the wokeness for a while, but if their budgets shrink, they may well ask whether they ought to rethink what kind of loco they want to be in relation to parents.

Legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight used to say that one should lead, follow, or get out of the way. More parents are demanding to be recognized as the “primary stakeholders” in their children’s education. They are refusing to “follow” educators who think that good education involves explicit sex, divisive and harmful notions about race, or the denial of opportunities in the name of equity. They are either going to lead the fight to take back these schools or get out of the way, taking their money with them and building up an education that is truly fit for the public.

Summary

The scariest of all is that it may be too late to salvage at least one full generation of Americans that apparently were “bathed” in this crud beginning in even first grade. Educators then maintained the CRT/Leftist mantra throughout their formative years so as to have them “ready” for the World after college, full of Leftist ideology.

Instead of getting angry about all of this, remember this one thing: those educators and teachers in the public school system are the same folks that back in the middle 60s were marching and protesting against the Vietnam War. Many went to Woodstock in 1969. That meant “free-sex, hallucinogenic LSD, marijuana, and hatred for “The Man.”  These are the teachers and professors who we have sent our kids to for “education?” And this brainwashing operated stealthily for decades without our knowledge!

Don’t tell me educators should be teaching my kids everything. And don’t try to force this Leftist ideology down their throats or mine. The scales have fallen off the eyes of a generation of parents who will not accept this despotism. And we remember marching and protesting WITHOUT rioting, looting, and taking drugs.

We can do it again — minus, of course, the “drugs” thing. Militarism? No one knows how powerful are a bunch of angry Mommas and Daddies whose kids have been indoctrinated by their school teachers!

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Critical Race Theory Lights The Fires For “School Choice”

States are making school choice legislation a priority at a time when teachers’ unions blocked the safe reopening of schools for in-person learning and, backed by the Biden administration, have embraced Critical Race Theory indoctrination for K-12 students. “It is difficult to understate just how huge a year school choice has had in state legislatures across the nation,” Mike McShane, director of national research at EdChoice, noted at Forbes Monday.

School choice legislation has been included just within the last several weeks in the budgets of four states, a fact that is not surprising given its popularity among American parents and families.

A RealClear Opinion Research Poll published in April found 71 percent of voters support school choice, an outcome the American Federation for Children (AFC) says represents “the highest level of support ever recorded from major AFC national polling with a sample size above 800 voters.” When race and ethnicity were considered as factors, voters of all cultural backgrounds overwhelmingly supported school choice. According to the poll, 73 percent of whites back school choice, as do 66 percent of blacks, 68 percent of Hispanics, and 66 percent of Asians. The poll also found 65 percent support “parents having access to a portion of per-pupil funding to use for home, virtual, or private education if public schools don’t reopen full-time for in-person classes,” AFC noted.

“The need for education freedom is at an all-time high and it’s reaffirming to see many state policymakers stepping up and supporting school choice across the country,” said John Schilling, AFC president. He also observed 32 states “have introduced 36 bills to create or expand educational choice and we urge policymakers in these states to get these bills over the finish line on behalf of families and students.”

Teachers’ unions’ vehement opposition to safe in-classroom instruction has “done more to advance school choice in the past year than could have ever been imagined,” Corey DeAngelis, national director of research at AFC, wrote at National Review in February.

The National Conference of State Legislatures hosts an interactive guide to school choice laws that allows visitors to the site to learn about which education options are now available in their states. At the end of June, for example, Pennsylvania Democrat Gov. Tom Wolf signed his Republican legislature’s budget bill that boosted an education tax credit scholarship program with an additional $40 million.

As the Center Square reported, the plan Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers negotiated will allow the state’s educational improvement tax credit (EITC) program to provide an additional 13,000 scholarships for families choosing private education. Pennsylvania Senate Education Committee Chairman Scott Martin (R) had hoped for an even bigger boost for school choice, but noted the EITC increase for the current budget was “one of the largest in the history of the program.”

“The allocation, Martin said, “shows that the commonwealth is placing the focus on children, not on any one educational model.”

“EITC is important because as I have said many times, we need an education system that allows parents to put their children in the kind of environment that suits their needs and helps boost student achievement,” he said.

West Virginia saw an interesting twist of events this year, as the Federalist noted. While in March 2018, a week-long teachers’ strike in the state helped launch the radical #RedforEd movement after it won the union a five percent raise, in March of 2021, West Virginia became the state to have advanced the most expansive education savings account (ESA) program in the nation. Gov. Jim Justice (R) signed a bill that created the Hope Scholarship Program, to become effective July 1, 2022. The program allows families who withdraw their children from public schools to receive about $4,600 per student, per year for private and homeschooling expenses, reported the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Families with very young children may also receive the funds even if they never intend to have their children register for public schools. “Republican supermajorities passed this legislation (House Bill 2013) without a single Democrat vote,” noted the Gazette-Mail.

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) signed a budget bill into law two weeks ago that authorizes the state to establish education freedom accounts to provide funding for families who choose private, parochial, and charter schools, as well as homeschooling, over public schools. The Sununu administration expects the new law to save the state between $360 to $393 million over the next decade, the Center Square reported, noting that data released by the Josiah Bartlett Center for Public Policy in March found that allowing funding to follow the children to the education setting of choice would cost 25 percent less than for traditional public schools alone.

The National Educators Association of New Hampshire is mulling a lawsuit to block the school choice law.

“Taking funds away from certified, qualified, and financially transparent public schools and teachers to hand them over to unaccountable and untraceable private schools not only make our jobs harder, it is also fiscally irresponsible,” the organization’s president Megan Tuttle said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the union also backs teaching the concepts of Critical Race Theory, which it refers to as “honest history,” and has condemned another provision of the budget law that bans the teaching of “inherent racism.”

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) also signed into law school choice legislation provisions in the state’s budget bill that raised the value of scholarship programs to $5,500 per student in grades K-8 and $7,500 per high school student. Additional increases were provided to scholarship programs based on income and to those focused on special needs students.

McShane noted DeWine also signed into law “a new tax-credit scholarship program open to all students in the state:”

Individuals who donate to organizations that grant scholarships to K-12 students can get a 100 percent credit against their state tax liability up to $750 per person. Legislators also created a new microgrant program for low-income families (who will receive $500 to use for educational expenses) a $250 personal-use tax credit for families to offset homeschooling expenses, and a $500 to $1,000 personal-use tax credit for private school families to help recoup some of their costs. Taken together, this makes Ohio home to one of the most diverse sets of school choice policies in the nation.

In a summary of the bounty of school choice legislation that has passed in the states this year, McShane added:

In total that means that three states (Indiana, New Hampshire, and West Virginia) have created new education savings account programs this year. Two states (Kentucky and Missouri) created new tax credit-funded education savings account programs, the first of their kind in the nation. Two states (Arkansas and Ohio) created new tax-credit scholarship programs. One state (Florida) expanded its ESA program. Six states (Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, and Ohio) expanded their voucher programs, and 10 states (Arizona, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, and South Dakota) expanded their tax-credit scholarship programs.

“It was finally made clear to a critical mass of legislators that families need options, and the one-size-fits-all nature of the contemporary public education system is not fit for purpose in an uncertain and changing world,” McShane observed. “Funding a more diverse and decentralized system means creating a more resilient system and a system better tuned to the needs of the people it serves.”

Does School Choice Work?

The pandemic forced all 50 states to reevaluate education policy in the coming years. Even now, we are starting to see the first shifts from the necessarily frantic “emergency mode” to a more long-term rethinking of policy for the new reality.

Let’s face it: those parents who in the past felt their children should not be forced into public school systems still pay in taxes the same amounts as do those parents who choose public schools. Every one of the 50 states has a public education budget. One could extrapolate from those numbers the per-student cost of one year for each child in each state. Doesn’t it seem sensible for each state to structure a program for ALL students’ education that allows parents to choose the education program that is best for their children?

Give Parents the ability to choose for their children!

“If we do that, the public school system will collapse!” That’s the cry from the teacher’s unions and bureaucratic educators. Let’s face it: if parents are given the option to choose the best school for their kids, EVERY school should fight to get each student and the education tax dollars allocated to teach each child. How would that be structured? Simple:

  • The parents choose the school they feel best could serve their child;
  • They meet with that school and enter the application process;
  • Once a final decision is made by both the parents and schools, that student will be enrolled, “IF” there is sufficient space;
  • School choice will, therefore, operate in what is really a capitalistic structure: based totally on “supply and demand;”
  • What determines which schools get which students? CHOICE! That means that the school with the best teachers, best programs, best environment, and the best record of success with previous students will be the ones parents and students flock to!
  • Yes, there may be waiting lists of students who want specific schools. How will that work? Other schools will need to fight for those students by finding what parents think is best for their children, implement it there, and prove THEY are willing to stop forcing kids into a particular model but refine their operations to fit the parent’s model for the education of their child. Free Market competition at its best!
  • In that model, many public schools will be chosen. If not, it certainly will be because of unwillingness to provide for kids and convince those parents “their” school is best for those kids.

Isn’t that how it should work rather than allowing the Teacher’s Union bureaucracy to take total control of every aspect of the process of educating our children? Shouldn’t parents decide?

The best schools will thrive. The schools that do not offer good programs will be required to improve their quality of education to attract more and better students. They will have to do that to survive: marketplace competition.

Tax dollars follow the children who each have equal opportunity to get the best education parents and children decide.

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