"Innovators and creative geniuses cannot be reared in schools. They are precisely the men who defy what the school has taught them." ~ Ludwig von Mises
Sending a child to school is a sacrifice of control, theoretically in exchange for a better experience than the parent can provide alone. Since students aren't receiving that at school, parents are re-evaluating. But those who consider alternatives are often at odds with others, even their own parents—because community elders remember an American school that no longer exists.
For those without recent experience, it is assumed that parents still have two-way communication with teachers who are open and willing to receive feedback and discretion to implement it. Still, attitudes at the school have moved toward less consideration of parent choice and feedback. Entering a modern front office as a parent too often brings prejudicial contempt. Judgmental authorities there skeptically search for the 'warning signs' they are trained to find and tribally reinforce that attitude in the teacher's lounges. Children need to be saved from their parents, you see—because parents aren't certificating holding graduates of Topics in Child Behavioral Development for the Structurally Oppressed like teachers are.
In these conditions, schools suffer attrition. High achievement teachers, who are smart enough to prefer environments where they are allowed to teach children what children ought to learn, tend to leave their posts. Those who remain are of lower quality, lower aptitude, and lower intelligence. They trend ideological and idealistic, adopting a hero persona while not being accountable to any sort of quantifiable heroism. Overrepresented are the personalities with a mission to put their stamp on a child, and therefore the world. Similarly, more of those who remain in schools are the ones who would seek part-time work on full-time salary with unchallenged authority to tell rooms full of people what to do than is otherwise found in the real world.
It isn't universal. School workers are usually more or less cooperative and obedient to procedures designed by someone else—guidelines that are woven through their training. Many are totally unaware that rebellion would be either possible or necessary, and the rest is predictable human behavior. But some amount or combination of these problems and attitudes are sure to be present in the institution that teaches your child.
And there are more problems than just those. There's "designed to fail" Common Core and No Child Left Behind mandates, which make one size fits all curriculums with federalized accountability systems, resulting in "teaching to the test." There's the centralization and Federal takeover of educational policy that has decreased the power of those close to the students, replacing local discretion with regulations that are written to compel compliance. And there is the way that schools mirror top-heavy corporate America—employing more higher-paid administrators to manage fewer low-paid teachers per student over time. This all before the recent changes that schools have adopted in response to Covid.
Is it all a reflection of a change in opinion in America? Is it a philosophical disagreement between those who make public policy and those of us who find these policies offensive?
I submit that it is not.
These changes, including centralization and regulation, are not only too often designed by lawyers to benefit lobbies, special interests, and the well connected—but they also create a lever that an adversary can control. It can help to view the decades-long shift toward centralization, along with the corresponding decline in quality, as a multi-generational silent war based on age-old military strategy against the last bastion of individual freedom from the children up. Such an operation aims to undermine the natural cohesion borne of human cooperation in the freedom that we enjoy, and the reason for it being covert is the Second Amendment.
Though Communists are but one faction with an incentive to weaken the world's greatest superpower, Cleon Skousen describes this totalitarian youth-targeting strategy well in his 1958 book The Naked Communist. The aim is to infiltrate, gain control of educational systems, dumb them down, alter facts, remove history lessons, and replace them with subversive curricula designed to undermine the child's natural development, and therefore society.
The 'long march through the institutions' is a plan from Marxist theorists Antonio Gramsci and Georg Lukacs in which culture is corrupted gradually from within by identifying and infiltrating each institution which gives the society strength. Carole Hornsby Haynes, Ph.D., wrote in 2019, "The traditional family would be the first target followed by churches, schools, entertainment, media, labor, civic organizations, history, literature, and science. By proceeding slowly, they could conceal their true in tent of a communist takeover." Included in the takeover plan was the destruction of traditional sexual morals by implementing 'sex education' in public schools that the Bolsheviks invented in Hungary circa 1919. Rather than the overt violent takeover, this gradual corruption became known as Cultural Marxism or neo-Marxism before being euphemized as Multiculturalism and Political Correctness.
Illustration by Chrissy Curtin
In light of this history, which is uncoincidentally rarely taught in modern American schools, the way that Elvis the Pelvis, Madonna, Drag Queen Story Hour, and drug-addled Hollywood came to be is no longer such a mystery. Though it is possible that a culture can devolve without adversarial forces conspiratorially engineering its demise, we can rationally assume that various historical and contemporary world leaders, intelligence agencies, and militaries that oppose the United States, along with pseudo-private market actors, have had an incentive and opportunity to steer our citizenry where they could—whether that be through an ownership stake in media corporations, by blackmailing or grooming politicians, or by leveraging celebrities to normalize debauchery. We must assume these amoral actors and tactics will be used where they exist—or we are easily defeated by them.
We look back at a decades-long self-destructive downward spiral of schools and their teacher pools that have made them gradually less and less able to prepare students to properly raise the children that those same schools will fail to educate. So what can we as parents do? Not all of us can push back or vote with our feet. Not all neighborhoods have multiple options, and not all parents can afford to shop around. Even where we do have options, because consumers have largely abdicated their responsibility to assert consumer power to a vague notion of public trust, there is a lack of market force keeping private schools from following the path of public schools.
The good news is that the more ridiculous the school's actions become, the greater the incentive to change it, and the larger the market for an alternative. More parents are seeing it for what it is for the first time as we move toward critical mass, and what is seen cannot be unseen. After all, it's not as though fewer parents are waking up to the fact that the institution responsible for teaching their children science has been requiring them to wear facemasks without first consulting science.
In the same way, the incorporation of Critical Race Theory and application of Ambiguous Concepts like Social Emotional Learning and Equity, in which schools "focus less on knowledge of academic content and more on student attitudes, mindsets, values, and behaviors," and in which fairness is based on equality of outcome rather than equality of opportunity and has produced bizarre results such as the time a charter school announced ditching their slogan “Work Hard, Be Nice” for its inability to "dismantle systemic racism,” are not converting homeschoolers to the public option, but the other way around.
Likewise, it's not as though the trend toward creating centralized databases of cumulative 'permanent records' on children—like internet search history, test scores, health records, family background, biometric data, survey answers, lunch choices, and incriminating disciplinary information—then selling it to 3rd party data brokers, is making parents more comfortable. It's making them create tools for each other like this Toolkit for Student Privacy.
Toolkit for Student Privacy
And fortunately, we can expect that when teachers, counselors, and school nurses respond to a developing child's off day with a psychological evaluation, diagnosis of 'oppositional defiance disorder,' and medication, it will create radicals out of parents who used to go along to get along, rather than creating more supporters for public school.
Many parents have seen these issues and have chosen to homeschool. Where others take responsibility on themselves to seek change from administrators, they are often viewed through the same lens as those homeschoolers—with preconceived stereotypes distorting what the status quo sees. But sometimes it works: parents are positively taking back control and challenging the schools and school boards, standing ground and reforming the government solution. And we can attempt to return sanity to schools from within by vetting and voting on school board candidates or by running for those positions ourselves, thereby being involved in choosing administrators and policies. Organizations exist to help, such as Asra Nomani's Parents Defending Education, which empowers parents to follow in her footsteps to investigate the source of indoctrination in their community schools through FOIA requests.
Whatever individual choices are made, they should reflect an active role for us as parents in our children's lives and in our community. And as for schools—certainly, this utterly unacceptable cold and prickly behavior on the part of adults who should know better must stop; we must instead favor warm and fuzzy, solutions-based plans that incentivize better choices for both them and us. If we "Believe In Ourselves," "Anything is Possible." Because we're "In It Together," "For The Children."
"Is there an idea more radical in the history of the human race than turning your children over to total strangers whom you know nothing about and having those strangers work on your child's mind, out of your sight, for a period of twelve years? Could there be a more radical idea than that?" ~ John Taylor Gatto