By Ken Blackwell | February 4, 2023 | The Cincinnati Enquirer
Public school administrators wield a great deal of power over our children’s lives − too much power. The only solution is school choice.
A recent undercover investigation in Ohio by the watchdog group Accuracy in Media underscores the troubling arrogance of administrators who think they know best what values and lessons children should be taught − better than the elected officials who set curriculum guidelines, and better even than those children’s parents.
The investigation took place last year, when Ohio lawmakers were contemplating legislation to ban the teaching of critical race theory − a radical pedagogy that essentially encourages students to judge others based on the color of their skin − in public schools. Posing as parents interested in enrolling their children in the local public schools, AIM investigators got administrators to speak frankly about how they would handle such a restriction.
It turns out, they had no intention of abiding by the intent of the law. Rather, as one administrator put it, they determined that there was “more than one way to skin a cat” − in other words, they would find a way to skirt the ban and expose children to CRT anyhow.
Another administrator had an even more disturbing take when discussing parents who oppose having their children taught divisive concepts in school. Complaining that those parents just “don’t fully understand,” she said the solution is simply to “trick them” by pretending to observe the ban while covertly teaching children CRT behind the backs of parents and lawmakers alike.
There’s a word for this approach: it’s wrong. These administrators were perfectly happy – even proud – to think that they would pull one over on parents. They were willing to boast, in front of perfect strangers, that they wouldn’t let parental concerns, or even the law, stop them from introducing impressionable young minds to concepts that many people believe encourage racial division and hostility.
Shockingly, the school districts that employ these administrators responded not with contrition, but by expressing anger toward AIM for exposing their duplicity. They actually tried to portray themselves as the victim of a set-up, rather than acknowledging that AIM had exposed an extremely troubling tendency entrenched within their school administrations.
We need to remember that children belong to their parents. They don’t belong to the state, and they certainly don’t belong to the bureaucracy. We require parental consent to administer aspirin to elementary school students, yet these administrators thought they should be able to promulgate these potentially poisonous concepts despite explicit instructions from elected officials to leave that decision to the parents.
Parents should be empowered to direct their children’s lives and education. They shouldn’t be forced to “counter-program” their kids to counteract the political propaganda being fed to them all day long in school.
Parents send their children to school so they can receive an education that will prepare them to succeed in life, not so they can receive political indoctrination. Schools should teach children things like reading, writing, math, and history. We don’t allow public schools to teach religion, largely because we respect the fact that different parents have different values, and should be free to instill those values in their own children. Yet, too many public school teachers and administrators think they should be free to teach students the secular religion of progressivism in the form of concepts such as CRT.
That’s one of the reasons school choice is so important, and so popular. Universal voucher programs allow parents to choose a school that offers quality education and does not contradict the values they are trying to instill in their children. It gives them an alternative to public school administrators who think and act like they have a right to mold young minds according to their own preferences and values, regardless of what parents want.
Public school administrators wield far too much power. It’s time for lawmakers to give that power back to the parents.
Read the original op-ed in the The Cincinnati Enquirer
Ken Blackwell served as the mayor of Cincinnati, the Ohio State Treasurer and Ohio Secretary of State. He currently serves on the board of directors for Club for Growth and Concerned Communities for America, and as an advisor to the Family Research Council.