Education performance in the United Sates has fallen from #1 in the world in 1973 to #17 in 2013. Middle of the pack in science, math & reading in 2015. During that timeframe we added the DOE, lowered standards, lowered grading scales and spent trillions of dollars, only to see results dramatically decline against the rest of the world. The left wants more money spent to solve the problem. The right wants the DOE eliminated and local control restored. State Rankings by Size & Money. State Rankings Best & Worst. State Funding per Student. Textbooks are also a political battleground. Tax dollars are being used to buy textbooks that make claims like: 1. Christopher Columbus ordered the 'complete genocide' of Native Americans. 2. Members of the Boston Tea Party were 'terrorists'. 3. Lee Harvey Oswald shot President John F Kennedy because he was a 'deeply disturbed Marine'; not because he was a committed Marxist. 4. During Ronald Reagan presidency the 'poor got poorer', inferring that his policies were targeted to such a result. Where is the truth? See the debate in this section.

Education as a Battleground

by Dr. Larry P. Arnn, President, Hillsdale College,
from Imprimus,
November, 2022:

If you want to see the problem with American education, look at a chart illustrating the comparative growth in the number of students, teachers, and district administrators in our public schools in the period between 2000 and 2019. (See the chart below.)

The number of district administrators grew by a whopping 87.6 percent during these years, far outstripping the growth in the number of students (7.6 percent) and teachers (8.7 percent). In illustrating the difference in these rates of growth, the chart also illustrates a fundamental change that has come over our nation as a whole during this period—a change in how we govern ourselves and how we live. To say a change is fundamental means that it concerns the foundation of things. If the foundation changes, then the things built on it are changed. Education is fundamental, and it has changed radically. This has changed everything else.

One way of describing the change in education today is that it provides a different answer than we have ever known to the question: who owns American children? Of course, no one actually owns the children.

Not many people raise this question explicitly, but implicitly it is everywhere. For example, it is contained in the question: who gets to decide what children learn? It is contained more catastrophically in the question: who decides what we tell children about sex?  Are these decisions the province of professional educators, who claim to be experts? Or are they the province of parents, who rely on common sense and love to guide them?

The natural answer to this question is contained in the way human beings come to be. “Natural” here does not mean what every single person wants or does—it means the way things work unless we humans intervene. 

ublic education is as old as our nation—but only lately has it adopted the purpose of supplanting the family and controlling parents. 

One can look in history or in literature to see the danger of where the idea of supplanting the family might lead. Study the education practices that existed in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany and that exist today in Communist China. Or read the terrifying account in Orwell’s 1984. They tell us that children, by distorting their natural desire to grow up and end their dependence, can be recruited to the purposes of despotic regimes, even to the extent of denouncing their parents to the state. We do not yet have this in America. But we do have children being turned against their country by being indoctrinated to look on its past—of which all parents, of course, are in some way a part—as a shameful time of irredeemable injustice.

Christopher Rufo has discovered, on the website of the Michigan Department of Education, detailed instructions for how teachers should open the question with students of their sexual orientation ... Also on the website are detailed instructions on how to keep this activity from the parents. And as we learned last year, when parents get angry and complain of things like this, the FBI is likely to become interested.

The revolutionary force behind this social engineering project is a set of ideas installed in just about every university today. Its smiting arm is the administrative state, an element of America’s ruling class. The administrative state has something over 20 million employees, many of them at the federal but most at the state level. Directly and indirectly, they make rules about half the economy, which means they affect all of it.  Most of the bureaucrats who staff the administrative state have permanent jobs. The idea behind this was that if they do not fear dismissal and have excellent pay and benefits that can’t be reduced, then they will be politically neutral. Today, of course, the public employee unions that represent this administrative state are the largest contributors in politics and give overwhelmingly to one side. They are the very definition of partisanship.

If it should ever become settled doctrine that the bureaucracy is constrained by the strict letter of the laws made by elected legislators and enforced by elected executives, that will exercise some restraint upon the administrative state. That explains why, after decades of defending judicial supremacy, progressives are beginning to question the authority of the courts and speak openly about packing the Supreme Court.

In every state, the result has been to remove authority and money away from the schools where the students learn. In every state, the authority and money drained from the schools have flowed toward the bureaucracy.  The political battle over this issue is fraught with dishonesty. Any criticism of public education is immediately styled as a criticism of teachers. But as the numbers show, the public education system works to the detriment of teachers and for the benefit of bureaucrats. The teachers unions themselves, some of the largest of the public employee unions, claim to be defending teachers and children.

I have said and written many times that the political contest between parents and people who make an independent living, on the one hand, and the administrative state and all its mighty forces on the other, is the key political contest of our time. Today that seems truer than ever. The lines are clearly formed.

...the Declaration of Independence ... in naming the causes of the American Revolution, it gives a guide to maintaining free and responsible government. And in an apposite phrase, it says of the King: “He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.” So it is today. And so it is our duty to defend our American way of life.

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