March 20, 2023

In Brief: The Right Cannot Afford to Abandon Public Education

Our schools and universities are ours. We built them, we paid for them, and we want them back.

The nation’s public schools are a mess and were long before the pandemic. Few would really dispute that. The increasing response from conservatives has been to abandon the sinking ship. Hillsdale College professor Kevin Portteus argues that we might want to rethink that idea.

He begins with Ron DeSantis’s work to overhaul the New College of Florida.

The importance of this move cannot be overstated. DeSantis’ previous efforts, outlawing critical race theory, rejecting the hate-filled mess that is the proposed AP African-American Studies course, and attacking the infiltration of LGBTQ ideology into our schools, were a good start, but they pale in comparison to this latest push.

Anyone who has ever worked in any organization, be it corporate, government, nonprofit, or educational, knows that personnel is policy. The people you put in key positions are the decisive factor in determining the character of an organization. Ban whatever content you want; require whatever curriculum you want; until you have the right personnel, and are rid of the wrong personnel, you won’t solve the underlying problem.

Portteus commends his own Hillsdale College (as would we) for being an example of this because even though faculty require reading things like the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision or White Fragility by the “execrable” Robin DiAngelo, students don’t become “battalions of woke Marxists.”

Strategically, this sort of learning is exactly what should be happening in red states all over the country. For decades, taxpayers have been funding the sinecures of leftist radicals, providing them with a tenured platform from which to wreak havoc on the country, and corrupt the minds of generations that follow them. If allowed to continue, then the destruction of America is inevitable. We may win elections, but we can’t win in the long run.

Governors, executive branch officials, and legislators must use every weapon in their arsenal to wage unremitting war on these people. DeSantis is showing the way. What can be done varies by state. Hit them where they live. Deprive them of those sinecures. Cancel their programs, departments, and majors. Revoke their tenure. If necessary, close entire institutions. No Republican in state government should be taken seriously unless he seeks to use every available weapon to reclaim our universities.

Moreover, we ought not stop with the universities. DeSantis’ New College strategy should be extended to every educational institution in the state. Teachers, principals, and administrators who support Marxist ideologies like critical race theory and LGBTQ ideology should be identified and driven from their positions. No legislation prescribing alternative curricula or banning this kind of indoctrination will stop them. Marxist ideologues will never stop; they must be actively prevented from propagating their ideology, and the only way to do that is to be rid of them.

“Most on the Right have all but given up on the idea of recapturing the public schools, but in giving up on the public schools they are abandoning those children who remain to be indoctrinated by the Left,” he argues. Most families, after all, cannot homeschool for a variety of reasons. “Like it or not,” he insists, “the vast majority of our nation’s children are and will continue to be educated in the public schools. If the republic is to survive, we need those students to become good citizens, too.” Portteus concludes:

How many institutions will conservatives abandon? How much more ground will we cede? In acting on the maxim that “personnel is policy,” DeSantis has said “no more.” Our schools and universities are ours. We built them, we paid for them, and we want them back. If we don’t take them back, we cannot save our country. The Left understands that, and it’s time we did, too.

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