In the wake of a (for mostly the elderly) deadly pandemic, Americans might just have been given a potential boon…a one-time opportunity to remake public education. As you are quite aware, no matter the lockdown status of each state, the one thing that has been consistent is that up until now, kids were being kept at home while school districts struggled with distance learning.
This has had some deleterious effects, especially for folks who have kids with special needs. My colleague Joe Cunningham wrote an excellent piece on this particular issue. Cunningham notes that children with special needs requires more in person contact, something the virtual classroom just cannot provide.
But learning what helps a kid and what hurts a kid in the classroom takes communication and it takes learning the child just as much as the child is learning you. In a virtual setting, it is much harder to build those bonds and, as a teacher, meet those needs.
There is no question that we need to get our kids back into the classroom, sooner rather than later. The questions then become: How soon? and How do we do it safely? Depending on who you listen to, the answers can vary widely. One mantra we keep hearing from the left, is that we need to “listen to the experts.”
It would be easy to trot out the old saw, “The Ark was built by an amateur while the Titanic was built by experts.” Instead, I’ll just point you towards my friend and sometime writing mentor, Charles Lipson, who has a great article out on listening to experts. He writes:
…complex questions involve experts in multiple fields, but there is no supra-expert to aggregate their differing advice. Even if we assume all experts within a field give similar advice, who can aggregate it across fields? No one. There is no “expert of experts.”
And further down (emphasis mine):
Sorting out the answers is ultimately a question for voters and their representatives, not for experts in hydroelectric engineering, wildlife conservation, or regional economics. We need the best advice, but only we, as citizens, can weigh it and make a final decision. In a representative democracy, we elect officials to make those decisions. If democracy is to work, we must hold them accountable.
Those discussions are ongoing across the country. What has slipped largely under the radar however, is the response of many parents to distance/virtual learning and what that could mean going forward. One interesting side effect was noted by my colleague Bonchie who writes:
Leftist teachers aren’t happy that you can now hear them programming your child with social justice ideology.
The left owns our public education system due to years of infiltration, coercion, and strong-arming. They’ve apparently become so comfortable and cocky in the position that they’re not openly complaining that you’ll now be able to hear their attempts at brainwashing your children.
Referring to one particular teacher, Bonchie notes:
He goes on to say that while conservative parents are definitely the biggest problem, he’s also concerned about leftist parents who might not see eye to eye with his attempts at guiding his students towards his way of looking at racism and homophobia.
So we now have both liberal and conservative parents actually seeing what is being taught in the (virtual) classroom and the left being concerned about that. That’s over and above concerns regarding the efficacy of online learning, especially for younger children. You don’t need to be Nostradamus or Jimmy The Greek (is that racist?) to see where this ends up.
Over at American Thinker, Monica Showalter notes that Google (TM) searches for, “homeschooling” are off the charts and for pretty solid reasons.
Rather than have children, including small children, staring at a computer screen with Zoom squares all day for their daily lessons from teachers with zero experience in effectively teaching online learning, they can have in-person schooling from their own parents, often with professional homeschooling kits and programs, as well as a community of other parents and kids in the same boat. It’s been done very effectively for years by some, and now with kids now facing a third-world style schooling experience, with basically no school at all, no teachers to study their reactions in classrooms to see if they are getting it, and mentor them and take an interest in them, as well as no friends to socialize with, it’s not surprising that parents are now looking at this alternative. It takes a lot to effectively teach online learning, which can be done, ideally with older kids, but it’s still no substitute for an in-person experience.
The homeschool movement must have the teachers union and the rest of their leftist fellow travelers terrified. Have a look at what one California Teachers Union is trying to get put in the current relief bill. From KUSI News, San Diego (emphasis mine):
Their demands include implementing a moratorium on private schools, defunding the police, increasing taxes on the wealthy, implementing Medicare for all, and passing the HEROES Act, which allocated and additional $116 billion in federal education funding to the states.
The unions demands also took aim at charter schools.
Don’t be confused by the laundry list of typical leftist demands. Private Schools, Charter Schools and Home Schools are the real focus because they all pose a threat to the leftists. One reason is that they diminish the power of the Teachers Unions. However, the single greatest reason, is the threat Private, Charter and Home Schools pose is to leftist messaging. They know that beginning in kindergarten and even preschool, they can get virtually unobstructed access to developing young minds and mold them into the shape leftists desire.
This isn’t a new concept . it has also been adopted by some pretty nefarious characters throughout history.
Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.
-Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov (Lenin)
The Wuhan China Virus lockdown has given us the opportunity to change that dynamic. More parents are now directly aware of what their kids are bing taught…and in real time, not hearsay. This makes the teachers and their unions especially vulnerable right now due to their own policy positions. The most significant of these, is a refusal by teachers in some areas to go back to work. Parents faced with a classroom pedagogy that promotes disordered behavior and a hatred of America and its culture, coupled with teachers refusing to work, have decided to opt out.
This is a huge opportunity. Instead of continuing to throw taxpayer dollars at indoctrination camps run by leftist union members, we should adopt the idea that tax dollars for education should “follow the child.” President Trump agrees. As reported by CBS Channel 8 San Diego:
“If schools do not reopen, the funding should go to parents to send their child to public, private, charter, religious, or homeschool of their choice,” President Trump said Thursday. “The keyword being choice. If the school is closed, the money should follow the student so the parents and families are in control of their own decisions. I would like the money to go to the parent of the student, this way they can make the decision that is best for them.”
This could be a huge game changer. However, the President needs to go one step further and eliminate the If schools do not reopen language. All federal dollars dedicated to P/K-12 education should flow through parents in the form of a refundable tax credit. Parents could then use those dollars to pay the for school of their choice, be it Public, Private, Charter or Home School.
I realize that states and counties provide the vast majority of school funding. On the other hand, the Federal portion is no mean bit. It is critical enough that states and counties rely on and even budget for that Federal contribution. Taking it away should end up making even public schools more competitive, especially in Red counties and states. Funneling education funds through the parents, makes them the customers, putting them in the driver’s seat not the Teachers Unions. Individual states that adopt this model in parallel with the Federal government would reap a huge benefit.
Now is our chance. The left is vulnerable on this. We merely require the courage to take this opportunity to wrest control of our children’s future from these idealogues.