Wednesday, June 10, 2020 : By Isa Ryan
For homeschool parents like myself, the last five months have been very weirdly vindicating.
First, as the coronavirus pandemic suddenly forced millions of families to facilitate their child’s education at home, we hoped that this would lead to an increase in parental awareness of what their children were learning or what’s involved with schooling at home.
While it is irrefutable that crisis homeschooling was in most cases a likely far cry from actual homeschooling, the experience nonetheless inspired parents across the nation to seriously consider homeschooling for the first time.
Then, the upheaval of the coronavirus made way to the ideologically-driven civil unrest that has been the George Floyd protests and subsequent ideological madhouse shone a harsh light on what decades of progressive, anti-American indoctrination has done to our younger generations.
From the narratives of systemic racism to the ill-fated urban dystopia that was the CHAZ, it has become painfully and abundantly clear to many that what ideas our children are exposed to each day and how they are taught to discern right from wrong and logical from fallible is actually incredibly important.
And while I’m a huge fan of homeschooling, as millions of parents face the reality of public schools deciding against in-person classes this fall, it is striking me how desperately our country needs to take back education.
I never thought I would say this, but I think preserving a public school system is incredibly important. But it is clearly in need of some major changes.
Reforming our education system may seem like an insurmountable task. But it’s never been more important, for our children and for the future of our republic.
For many of us who were already homeschooling, this period of time has highlighted not only the style of education we had already embraced but the deeply philosophical reason that we were homeschooling. The very wide world of classical Christian education, which is not limited by any means to homeschoolers, seeks to instill in young students the academic tools necessary for life in a representative democracy.
And in this regard, the public school system has completely failed. We are no longer civilly discussing the most serious moral issues of our republic for the sake of passing laws that best preserve the natural rights our nation was founded to protect.
Conservatives aren’t the only ones waking up to the realization that the way culture is hashing out ideological differences is incredibly unhealthy. Earlier this month, decidedly left-wing authors and writers including Noam Chomsky and J.K. Rowling penned an open letter warning about the dangers of cancel culture.
Complete with the requisite digs at Trump and laughable claims that the “far-right” normally has the monopoly on censorship, these writers make the incredibly profound and objectively true statement that, “The restriction of debate, whether by a repressive government or an intolerant society, invariably hurts those who lack power and makes everyone less capable of democratic participation.”
The belief that education must be used to instill young citizens with the tools they need to participate in the representative democratic process is not exclusive to Christians, social conservatives, or Republican voters, nor should it be!
The Founding Fathers addressed this plainly, sometimes linking education inextricably with the basic sense of virtue they imagined the citizens of our republic would take for granted.
John Adams wrote in Thoughts on Government that, “Wisdom and knowledge, as well as virtue, diffused generally among the body of the people, being necessary for the preservation of their rights and liberties, and as these depend on spreading the opportunities and advantages of education in the various parts of the country, and among the different orders of people, it shall be the duty of legislators and magistrates… to cherish the interest of literature and the sciences, and all seminaries of them.”
He also stated, in a quote that will surely trigger any fiscal conservative, that “Laws for the liberal education of the youth, especially of the lower class of the people, are so extremely wise and useful, that, to a humane and generous mind, no expense for this purpose would be thought extravagant.”
Speaking of spending on education, Adams perhaps never foresaw the political behemoth that is the relationship between politicians and the notoriously powerful teachers unions engaged in an incestuous exchange of donations, endorsements, and funding.
“State-run schools have undercut two fundamental conditions of a healthy tolerant society. First, they’ve created millions of civic illiterates who are disconnected from long-held communal values and national identity. Second, they’ve exacerbated the very inequalities that trigger the tearing apart of fissures,” David Harsanyi wrote for National Review earlier this month.
The school system is not only no longer empowering the lower classes Adams hoped it would elevate, it’s become an unimaginably bloated bureaucracy that has our nation and culture trapped in a vicious cycle of political favoritism that has nothing to do with the welfare of any students.
Prosperous Americans already enjoy school choice — and not merely because they can afford private schools. Anyone who has ever tried to buy a suburban home in a major metro area can tell you how acutely school districts influence home prices. Many middle-class and working-class families are priced out of areas with good schools because of inflated home values and high property taxes. And families who might otherwise choose to live in more diverse areas are kept out because of failing schools.
This entire dynamic is driven by the antiquated notion that the best way to educate kids is to throw them into the nearest government building. It’s the teachers’ unions that safeguard these fiefdoms through racketeering schemes: First they funnel taxpayer dollars to the political campaigns of allies who, when elected, return the favor by protecting union monopolies and supporting higher taxes that fund unions and ultimately political campaigns. So goes the cycle, decade after decade, one failed student after the next.
Homeschool is one solution to this disturbing trend, but us homeschool parents need to be the first to admit that it does not work for everyone. I’d love to strive for a nation in which parents were more empowered to homeschool, absolutely, and I’m so excited to see how many parents are willing to take the plunge into the wide world of home education.
But it’s not enough. We need to take a stand for the non-partisan, patriotic principle of good public education. We need to take back the narrative from the partisan entities who seek funding for these schools that so rarely seems to translate into academic success.
If you’re a tax-payer, you are funding these schools, and you have a right to vocalize your concerns, most particularly if these schools serve your children. We can’t simply turn our back on this broken system. If we do, we are turning our back on the future of our republic.
“The best means of forming a manly, virtuous, and happy people will be found in the right education of youth. Without this foundation, every other means, in my opinion, must fail.” -George Washington