Coronavirus / Critical Race Theory

Public Education – In Trouble


Long before COVID, public education was in trouble.

Distressed parents – seeing educational standards slip, core subjects (like math, science, reading, writing, history) mistaught, untaught, and underemphasized for politics were starting to jump. Today, disenchantment is everywhere. Five reasons explain – and offer a way back. But time is short.

First, before COVID, public education was failing. By reference to past performance and international data, American public schools were leaving kids uneducated in basics, character training, core competencies, creative thinking, logic, analysis. We were below Europe’s average, lagged the top five internationally, Singapore, Macao, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan. See, e.g., Reading scores fall on ‘nation’s report card’ while disparities grow between high and low performers; U.S. Education Rankings Are Falling Behind the Rest of the World.

Second, also before COVID, political excuses were lofted for nonperformance – compared to private education, homeschooling, disparate districts. These excuses, often race-based, bordered on nonsensical. They accelerated in recent years, lowering the bar based on race, nobbling more American students. See, e.g., California promotes ‘dismantling racism in mathematics’ guidance in draft for statewide framework; California seeks end of advanced math courses in name of social justice; California Leftists Try to Cancel Math Class.

Perhaps the saddest irony is that, with standards high between 1990 and 2000, and 2000 to 2009, Black and Hispanic students were gaining, not stagnant, not falling behind. The reverse is now. Human nature performs to expectations; set high, students work hard; set low, they languish. See, e.g., See how U.S. fourth- and eighth-grade students performed in mathematics/.

Third, again before COVID, the power of teachers’ unions were growing – excusing underperformance, pushing union expansion, left-leaning political power, dominance over local and state priorities, union-driven politics.

The two big education unions, the National Education Association (NEA) and American Federation of Teachers (AFT), leaned to Democrats. As “Open Secrets” reported in 2019, they “have steadily amped up their political involvement … From 2004 to 2016, their donations grew from $4.3 million to more than $32 million – an all-time high.” Key: “They have little use for Republicans, giving Democrats at least 94 percent of the funds … as far back as 1990,” with NEA at “about $20 million in 2016” and AFT at “almost $12 million.” See Teachers Unions.

Fourth, during COVID, the first three factors pushed a fourth: Endless remote learning, resistance to returning, indifference to student and family needs. As data showed rising social damage, student suicides, drug and alcohol abuse, family stress, domestic abuse, and retarded learning, unions leveraged a return to classrooms for power. Some jurisdictions stood out. See, e.g., The Teachers Union Has Become a Public Menace | Opinion; Refusal of teachers unions to work illuminates bravery of other essential workers; Teachers Unions Continue To Block School Reopenings Across America; Chicago Teachers Union Refuses Order To Go Back to Classrooms. In short, unions – and complicit administrators – chose power over the mental and social well-being of students and families.

For those who argue data favored staying remote, that idea died a year ago. CDC’s leader in July 2020: “It is critically important for our public health to open schools this fall.” Still, many did not open – and remain quixotic even now. See, e.g., CDC releases new coronavirus guidelines for schools.

Finally, many communities, teachers, parents, and students are rebelling against union pressure to teach Marxist principles, including Critical Race Theory or CRT. The rebranding of Marxism swaps static economic classes for static skin color, arguing individual liberties, opportunity, meritocracy, and achievement are dead.

Why? Because skin color decides fate, not character.

This is, of course, is not true. It is also the opposite of our Constitutional text, aspirations, promise, and empirical history, opposite of what Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, and Lyndon Johnson believed. The last five were Democrats. It is opposite what Republicans Dwight D. Eisenhower, Ronald Reagan, and both Bushes believed. It is anti-opportunity, defeatist, and anti-American.

That is why so many parents are rebelling, rising to contest, condemn, reassert individual rights, remove leaders, disavow unions, jump ship. Numbers are piling up, public education in trouble.

Daily stories track disrespect for students, families, and damage done. Private enrollments are exploding. Vermont private schools, for example, saw an eleven percent pop in enrollment. Nationally, urban public schools are down four percent. Fully 78 of 160 independent schools spanning 15 states are enjoying higher enrollment, the majority open in-person. More than half of all private schools are up. See, e.g., One sector is flourishing during the pandemic: K-12 private schools; PA father says he’s pulling youngest child from public schools over critical race theory; Columbia professor calls on parents to pull kids from NJ prep school over critical race theory.

Nor are parents all going private when they pull out of the public schools. Homeschooling is up. Even in less conservative states, like Minnesota, homeschooling enrollment is up 50 percent compared with two years ago – not a year, but two years ago. Ominously for public education, nine percent of kindergartens are seeing decreased enrollment. That is the public pipeline.

Critical Race Theory, rising Marxism, politically jiggered history, diminished expectations, standards, and quantitative learning are driving the downtrend – not just COVID. Thus, a former Deputy Assistant Attorney General under Bush 41 noted, parents are “challenging these kinds of efforts to use race explicitly in the schools,” and stock in public education is falling.

So, what is the answer? The answer is local activism, belief in ourselves, each other, our Constitution’s promise of equal protection and opportunity, individual liberty, American Dream. Our Founders, plus Lincoln, King, all prior presidents, believed in that dream. Our mission is to stand up, defend competition based on the “content of our character, not the color of our skin.” That was Lincoln’s and King’s dream, the American dream; that is what public schools should teach.

We hope you've enjoyed this article. While you're here, we have a small favor to ask...

Support AMAC Action. Our 501 (C)(4) advances initiatives on Capitol Hill, in the state legislatures, and at the local level to protect American values, free speech, the exercise of religion, equality of opportunity, sanctity of life, and the rule of law.

Donate Now

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter
and Download the AMAC News App

Sign Up Today Download

If You Enjoy Articles Like This - Subscribe to the AMAC Daily Newsletter!

Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Tony Robe
1 year ago

Public teachers are really just another democrat labor union. They are almost useless at teaching, preferring to get as much salary as possible. Many other nations do much better with their non-union teachers that care more about their students. Just like their union auto builders counterpart, they can’t do a better job than workers of other countries.

JJ Johnson-Smith
1 year ago

AMEN to that! Covid, Common Core, and now, CRT, are the BEST things to happen to American kids in DECADES! These things have shone a bright light on the decay of traditional, and valid, education and the Evil Push to turn our youth into Socialists and Marxists. Parents have FINALLY opened their eyes and are putting their children’s minds, first.

Kathy West
1 year ago

There are parents who are more interested in making sure their children receive the BEST education and NOT crt indoctrination and have learned through the pandemic THEY can do better for their children then the UNION Teachers. The school systems better wake up or they will have no children to teach and a surplus of WOKE teachers on their hands. Then I will make sure that I vote NO on any school millage which appears on the ballot. We The People CAN make a difference.

Mickie Enders
1 year ago

Our liberal public educational system has been quietly brainwashing and indoctrinating our kids for years now! Sadly, today our society is seeing the results. The one good thing about the push to teach CRT is that parents are waking up and seeing what their children are being taught!

1 year ago

Thank those union teachers!! answer… fire all of them !!

Susan D. Campbell
1 year ago

Perhaps I am being naïve, but it seems to me that public schools are the closest to the electorate in control. The local school board has quite a bit of control over curriculum (even with the federal and state $$ strings that are attached), plus the hiring of superintendents, principals and teachers. I am a retired teacher, and mother of two, with almost 40 years of experience in classrooms from pre-school through university level and in public, private, and church settings.

If more of us conservatives ran for school board positions we could take back our schools. Apathy on the part of society in general and parents in particular has lead us to this place. That may sound overly optimistic, but I know there are still dedicated, common sense teachers in classrooms. Those who like me, would never let a Junior leave a civics or history class without knowing that there is no such thing as a free lunch and with a deep appreciation for what sacrifices were made to create our system of government.

steve sperry
1 year ago

I wonder: is there any movement beginning, in view of this swelling exit from public to private and home schooling, for tax-paying parents of children (who have been short-changed by public schools) to collectively demand relief from, or return of, property and other taxes, so that the funds can be spent where effective education results can be expected? It would seem that if folks receive no services from public schools, they would have a legitimate claim. Also, if competent and truly dedicated educators wanted rewarding work, good compensation would be available in the private sector.

Stephen Russell
1 year ago

Public Ed solutions:

Expand charter schools
Expand STEM, Voc/Tech Ed
Reuse idle schools for local area needs
Downsize UC CA bureaucracy alone
Revamp PTA
& add your ideas

J. Farley
1 year ago

Public School Education, in the last 50 years has become a joke and not a funny joke, it has done nothing for the educational system except bring us to the brink of socialism / communism ——- New slogan – DEFUND PUBLIC SCHOOLS !!!!!!

dee mabuhay
1 year ago

The American Public School System is filled with uneducated liberal teachers who do not know how to teach but just to indoctrinate according to their distorted beliefs.

Lauren R Macarthur
1 year ago
Reply to  dee mabuhay

Unfortunately, absolutely true. It began more than 50 years ago, as the egghead professors, who never left the campus, began indoctrinating their students.

Debbie Rockwell
1 year ago

I am one of the parents pulling my daughter out of public and putting her into private school. It will be a big sacrifice, but one that will be well worth it.

James Kelly
1 year ago

Public Education – In Trouble
Has been for a long long time.

Break the unions, fire the liberals;get more private schools with school choice.

1 year ago
Reply to  James Kelly

Defund Public Education!

Gunny Joe
1 year ago
Reply to  James Kelly

Stop the tenure of commie professors, the state run University and Colleges is the breeding grounds. Look to reputable vocational/tech schools better to know how to do something, than a education of nothing but feelings.

1 year ago

This article mentions Minnesota as a conservative state! Not according to a friend of mine from Minnesota! Minnesota has been leaning left for some time now! But its good to read that government schools are in trouble! Serves them right replacing education with indoctrination!

Janet Barton
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol

The article says….”even in LESS conservative states”.

Lauren R Macarthur
1 year ago
Reply to  Carol

The article says “in less conservative states, like Minnesota,” etc. It was comparing to conservative (red) states where homeschooling is popular. You are correct, though, Minnesota is definitely not even slightly conservative. It is definitely a blue state.

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x