In a recent column I asked conservatives why their children are still in public school. The point of the column was that subjecting children to leftwing indoctrination six or more hours a day five days a week for twelve years is bound to have an effect and not the effect conservative parents would want for their children. The column got a big response—mostly positive—but I did step on a few toes. Several conservative readers became defensive and claimed they had no choice but to send their children to public school. These few responded that the alternatives I listed in my column—private schools, Christian schools, charter schools, and homeschools—will not work for them, although none of them explained why.
Over the years, I have heard all of the reasons why conservative parents feel compelled to put their children in public school, no matter how inadvisable this choice might be. Now I am going to give my side of the argument and explain why conservative parents who knowingly subject their children to twelve years of leftwing indoctrination and academic tripe need to look in a mirror and decide what is important. I will begin my explanation with a quote from Pastor Randy Booth’s essay, “Rethinking Education.” Booth writes: “Government education, because it is nearly universal, monolithic and a self-sustaining institution has more power to create our worldview and character than almost anything else in America. It strongly influences what we feel and how we will do the work of the mind (even when we don’t realize its influence). This should not be surprising when you think about it. Growing up, each week we spend two or three hours in church and thirty to forty in school.”
Booth might have added that the number of hours public school children spend with their parents is also minimal compared to the amount of time they spend with teachers who preach politically-correct but factually-inaccurate and morally-regressive propaganda all day. Booth wrote, quite accurately, that education “has the power to shape our worldview and character…” My question for conservative parents is this: Who do you want shaping your child’s worldview and character—you or teachers who preach leftwing orthodoxy either because they believe it or because they are coerced into doing so? Regardless of which of these two types of teachers your children have, the result will be the same: fully indoctrinated children who eventually and inevitably reject their parent’s beliefs.
J. Gresham Machen (if you to public school as I did, Google him), once said: “If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might as well give them everything else.” If left-leaning public educators are allowed to shape the minds, attitudes, worldviews, and characters of America’s children, why should we be surprised when America elects a statist president and the Senate is controlled by big government liberals who supplant individual liberty and personal freedom with government coercion, regulation, and control?
In his book Inside American Education, conservative economist Thomas Sowell wrote: Too often American educators are like the Wizard of Oz handing out substitutes for brains, bravery, and heart… Too many American schools are turning out students who are not only intellectually incompetent but also morally confused, emotionally alienated, and socially maladjusted.” It is no accident that American school children fare so badly when compared to those of other countries in the key subjects of Math, Science, and Reading. It is also no accident that so many public school students are “morally confused,” “emotionally alienated,” and “socially maladjusted.” This is what happens when young people are subjected year after year to daily doses of leftwing indoctrination that runs counter to common sense, critical thinking, and everything their senses tell them. It is also what happens when the teaching of self-esteem becomes more important than the teaching of self-discipline and when entitlement replaces merit as the focus of instruction.
I have heard all of the reasons conservative parents give for sending their children to public school, but when I observe the results in the negative attitudes and inadequate academic and moral preparation of their children these reasons sound more and more like paltry excuses. A conversation I recently heard sums up my argument on this topic better than anything I can write. I had just spoken to a TEA Party group and was mingling in the crowd. I heard one parent ask another: “Where do your children go to school?” He answered, “They both go to the local middle school.” The one who had asked the question then asked another—a stunner: “Why? Don’t you love them?”