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April 13, 2023

Save Our Children, Save Our Country

Wake up, America — our education system is hard at work producing a generation of one-dimensional thinkers.

I cannot shake the gnawing fear that the next generation of Americans — the children of today who will one day lead our nation — will reach adulthood with a set of core principles entirely different than those on which this nation was founded. And then the wheels will come off.

Sadly, that’s possible. Our children are captive to an educational system that embraces hard-left ideology and rejects all else. In many respects, the prevalent viewpoints held by American educators are out of step with mainstream American thinking and yet are likely to have outsized influence on formative young minds.

The sharp political tilt of American public education is undeniable. About 90% of American elementary and secondary school students go to public schools; 70% of American school teachers are unionized, and of those, about 90% are affiliated with either the National Education Association (NEA) or the American Federation of Teachers (AFT).

These are labor unions — the NEA is the largest labor union in the United States — and labor unions are traditionally and overwhelmingly Democrat. Nearly all teachers union political support (94% of NEA and AFT contributions) go to Democrat candidates, and in return they are supported — and funded — by Democrat lawmakers.

Make no mistake, teaching is an honored, critically important calling; the teachers I know are all dedicated professionals. But most are members of bargaining units that dictate compensation, benefits, and job security and directly or indirectly control classroom practices and performance. As a result, most American school children are immersed in progressive thinking from preschool through 12th grade.

Nor does it stop there. Higher education is notoriously progressive as well. Ours has become a one-dimensional education system, from top to bottom.

Without a doubt, the unions’ leftward political allegiances ultimately influence what students learn about today’s controversial issues. LGTBQ adherents, for example, are a political constituency.

Within that spectrum, gender fluidity is the touchiest of touchy issues, with chilling anecdotes of teachers who encourage children to search for their “true” identities, help them to pursue extreme measures to adopt their chosen identities, and in some horrifying cases actively withhold that information from parents.

And while the popular new view on the Left is that gender is fluid, most adult Americans on Main Street believe that gender fluidity is hogwash. We accept the reality that every human being on this planet (roughly eight billion of us) is here by virtue of fertilization of a female egg by a male sperm. We’re quite sure that no man has ever been pregnant, and no woman has ever given birth without a male contribution. And so, from our perch as adults who have lived real lives, we want nothing more than for teachers to help our children navigate those tough formative years and to mature as healthy adults in the bodies they were born with.

That fundamental contradiction between our core beliefs and what we suspect — or know — our children are being taught in school is just one example. Critical issues of today — abortion, racism, gun violence, immigration, and others — are also likely points of sharp disagreement between progressive educators and many Americans.

So how do we avoid my nightmare scenario of a next generation stuck in a one-dimensional worldview? A few thoughts come to mind:

1.) School choice is an obvious answer, providing parents realistic alternatives and putting in place meaningful competition among education providers.

2.) The role of teachers unions is to protect the interests of their members, NOT to achieve their preferred political ideology. As in other fields, unions that lose perspective in that respect will ultimately lose traction.

3.) Balance in education is critical. There’s nothing wrong with teachers presenting their own views (progressive or not) on controversial current issues, provided they present the counterviews as well. Parents and boards must insist on that.

4.) One non-negotiable element: teachers must provide honest, open, and full disclosure to parents on all matters affecting children’s mental and physical health.

5.) Disagreement with progressive views on LGBTQ or other matters should never open the door to prejudicial behavior. Educators and parents alike must teach our children to respect the views of others, whether we agree with them or not.

6.) Boards of Education serve as the bridge between teachers and parents and between schools and the teachers unions. Board membership is not a symbolic position — boards must be actively engaged, open, and responsive, and voters must hold them to it.

American society, even though sharply divided, is nonetheless exposed to the marketplace of ideas. Collectively, we can sample the offerings from both sides and choose our nation’s path forward. Education should provide to our children that same balanced perspective. Exposure to one side only with no consideration of alternative viewpoints is not education; it’s indoctrination.

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