Do The Kids Matter?

“I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” Terry McAuliffe, who previously served as Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018, said during a debate with Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin.” If this wasn’t bad enough, things got even worse.

 On Oct. 4th, according to N.Y. Times, “The Justice Department, in response to pleas from national groups representing school administrators, is deploying federal law enforcement officials around the country to help address instances where people have threatened and harassed educators over divisive policy issues such as mask mandates and teaching about racism, and possibly pursue prosecutions.” In other words, If you forcibly speak up at a school board meeting, you just might find the FBI at your door. Sounds more like China than America.

How did we get to this point? With our children being subjugated to remote learning, parents became aware of what was being taught to our children. In some areas, the youngsters were being told whites were privileged and oppressors. Blacks are at a terrible disadvantage throughout their lives. Some classes use the NY Times 1619 project to teach students that the U.S. was founded and dependent on slavery. Some parents found this odd and checked. They found top historians and economists deride the project as inaccurate and misleading. 

Many of these parents couldn’t question schools about these lessons because they were closed. While schools were open and in-person in some states and most of Europe, teachers’ unions lobbied to keep them closed until their demands were met. Numerous non-union charters and private schools found a way to stay open.

Instead of putting the kids first, the educational establishment, teachers, administrators, and school boards were exposed as self-serving. Parents had to take the lead in educating their children. Trust was lost.

Meantime, many parents are faced with the reality their children have lost considerable learning ground because of closed schools. Parents need to know how the schools plan to reduce the deficit. The worst legacy of the Covid pandemic may be the lifetime losses our children will suffer. 

When schools finally reopened, many parents had a lot of questions. It didn’t help some schools forced the little ones to mask up all day. There is little if any science behind the mask mandates in the face of massive data from unmasked European schools. Parents have more questions.

Instead of solid discussion with honest answers, many parents felt dismissed by their school boards. . Some school board meetings became contentious. While the justice department (DOJ) only sees the problem coming from the parents, Nicholas Tampio, a Fordham political science professor, looked into the situation and found anger on both sides. He pointed to a school board meeting where a parent yelled at a school board member to be respectful. He added, “it isn’t about you, Bud.” ” at which point, the board member called the parent an expletive. He pointed out, “schools should want parents invested in the well-being of their children.”

The professor echos the widely held belief, students do better in school when parents are involved. The DOJ can only discourage parents from expressing their views to schools boards. What is the Department doing in local issues anyway? 

Could it be politics at work? Everyone knows the teacher’s unions are a strong supporter of Democrats. School boards have long been dominated by unions. 

Taxpayers pay our public schools to provide education to their children. This is a service provider-consumer scenario. In the private economy, a firm telling their customers these are the services they will give even if the buyers want something else won’t survive for long. All too often, in the public sector, the motor vehicle department attitude prevails. You have to suffer lousy service because you have no other choice. The Department has a monopoly on licenses and plates. Make a fuss, and security will take care of you.

K-12 Education is too important to be left in this bureaucratic mess. It’s time to put the power in the hands of the people most likely to have the best interests of children, their parents. The educational establishment’s response to the pandemic revealed where its loyalties lie. It wasn’t the children.

The only way out of this dilemma is a voucher for every child to cash at school of their parent’s choice. Children learn differently. We need a system that is flexible enough to bring out the best in all our children. Our 19th-century public school system has placed the U.S. behind our international competitors, even though we spend more per student.  

 We are finally at a point where” School Choice” has been around long enough to be evaluated in some places. Arizona, an early adopter of School Choice, was the subject of a study of the Federal National Assessment Progress Test results from 2005 to 2017. The Arizona gains on the test were roughly double the national average. This success shouldn’t come as any great surprise; more choices are always better. Sweden’s youngsters outperform ours at less cost. That nation gives each student a voucher they cash at the school of their choice. To meet our changing needs, deregulating our educational system at every level is critical.

The utter pandemic failure of the K-12 educational establishment led to droves of those who could to abandon the system. We need variable-rate vouchers for the less fortunate to also have choices.

Having a single voucher amount might leave low-income children at a disadvantage. Will good schools be located in bad areas without more incentive? The kids may have to travel some distance to the desired school. 

In the same way, special needs children will need enhanced vouchers to attract proper attention to their needs. Everyone can agree these children are more expensive to educate. The voucher’s value will match the cost.

Now is the time to facilitate to change to a total voucher system. K-12 education is the providence of the states, and some have made progress in this direction. Still, it has to be akin to deregulation. A half measure would be like the advent of the industrial revolution and accommodating the horse lobbies. Federal educational funds should be used to facilitate the states instituting their voucher systems.

Dedicated educators will find the best places for their skills, and our children will be better served.

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