While watching the election returns in Virginia, the analysts — you know those people with those slick boards which move pictures with the flick of a finger — were talking about what a shock it was that a Republican was favored on the issue of education. At this time in America, why would anyone favor the Democrats on this issue?
Did anyone happen to notice that once public employee unions were legalized back in the 1960’s, the cost of public education soared in this country while the quality of said education plummeted? A scientific theory, of which subject teachers are completely inept, would tell you that the two are not necessarily cause and effect. An honest person would state there are other factors involved. Is it a coincidence that these things happened simultaneously? I think not.
The country’s largest city which operates the country’s most populated school system has an (outgoing) mayor who has been an ardent enemy of charter schools. These are the same charter schools that have thousands vying for limited spots via lottery to get their children into schools not controlled by the mayor and his teacher union supporters. The same charter schools that enable minority students to perform at levels that far exceed the performance of their public schools’ counterparts. Yet for some reason, the perception is that Democrats are better on the issue of education. What is wrong with this picture?
In California, the teachers’ unions make a tremendous effort to get the legislature to crush charter schools. They lie about the performance of the charter schools to enhance the performance of the public schools to no avail. While the leaders wail about white supremacy, the performance of the black and brown students under their guidance is atrocious.
The Democrats like to say you should never let a crisis go to waste. In Virginia’s case, it backfired on them. I and many other critics of teachers’ unions and the current public-school systems seemed to get nowhere with middle-class and upper-middle class parents. Parents were too busy working and just getting through their days trying to provide a safe and healthy home for their children. We could write and speak and scream at the top of our lungs about the gross injustices being done to minority children. But if their school district was hiding the damage and their kids were getting a “good” education, they ignored the plight of others or were just too overwhelmed with their lives to take on the task of fighting the system.
Then we came upon a pandemic. Their kids were stuck at home and their teachers refused to show up to teach even after being vaccinated. Parents began to see not only the poor education being foisted upon their children but the poor education foisted upon all children –particularly in urban districts. They saw advanced education programs being canceled as racist because too many white or Asian kids were in the programs and not enough black or brown kids. They did not see the sense of that. They came to realize if the black or brown kid received a vapid education it was harmful to all of us down the line. They saw the schools were focused on issues other than math and English and science and history. If history was being taught, the values with which they were raised that made this country great were being trashed. Immigrant parents saw their kids being told that those things they cherished about America and caused them to fight so hard to become an American were bad or dangerous. The parents saw that their world was not being turned upside down. It already was.
Democrat elected officials who were funded by public employee unions that owned the politicians were the catalyst. The parents realized the people they trusted were cheating on them behind their backs. The funds from bond issues they were told to vote for and did so religiously were being wasted. Bright new schools were not the cure. The sickness was inside the schools. That means the curriculum, the school boards, the administration and, yes, the teachers who went along with all of it.
The other political party had been telling them that they cared. They argued for charter schools and parental choice and vouchers so parents could make the choice of a better way. The other party stood up and waved their hand and said we are still here. We still want to help. We still believe a public education monopoly has failed us. They reminded parents there is a reason the public-school establishment argues against the competition. When competition happens, the establishment loses, and the kids win. They reminded parents that they not only have a say in their child’s education, but they should also actively participate in the process.
Many black and brown parents have already realized the establishment and their political allies have left them in the dust. Now white parents have woken up to that reality. They have realized the Democrats are owned by the teachers’ unions serving them instead of their kids.
We have a breakthrough. Republicans should grasp that opportunity and press it to the wall. Not because it is a political opportunity. It is the right thing to do. It is not throwing money at a dysfunctional system. It is improving the outcomes for all our children. Republicans are the party of education. It just took a pandemic for many parents to wake up on the issue.
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