In our culture, which claims to be committed adherents to the principles of diversity, inclusion and equity for all people, those who issue that clarion call are decidedly against all forms of diversity and equality when it comes to educational choices. This is particularly true for those children and families who most benefit from the ability to exercise liberty in their education choices.
Families of poor and minority children are fervent supporters of school choice:
“There’s a strong undercurrent of support for alternatives from African-Americans and Latinos who have gravitated toward school choice—from charter schools, which are considered a less radical step, to publicly financed vouchers that pay for tuition at private schools. Many minority parents are impatient at what they see as the plodding pace of school reform; they’re concerned that their own children won’t benefit from long-term improvements to the current public school system.
Some national education-watchers believe that minority parents’ growing interest in school choice demands greater attention.
“This new movement from communities of color and low-income parents is certainly a threat to leaders in public education,” said Warren S. Simmons, the executive director of the Annenberg Institute for School Reform in Providence, R.I. “If these parents opt out, who is the constituency in these urban areas?”
The idea that these perpetually promised improvements to government schools will ever come to fruition is pretty preposterous. Government schools are increasingly decreasing their already nonexistent rigor in the very areas of study in which American students need the most improvement. Several school districts, including California, are gutting accelerated math instruction, even for advanced students, in the name of equity:
California’s Department of Education is working on a new framework for K-12 mathematics that discourages gifted students from enrolling in accelerated classes that study advanced concepts like calculus.
The draft of the framework is hundreds of pages long and covers a wide range of topics. But its overriding concern is inequity. The department is worried that too many students are sorted into different math tracks based on their natural abilities, which leads some to take calculus by their senior year of high school while others don’t make it past basic algebra. The department’s solution is to prohibit any sorting until high school, keeping gifted kids in the same classrooms as their less mathematically inclined peers until at least grade nine.
Unfortunately, the constituencies who most benefit from and value school choice seem inexplicably addicted to supporting, at the ballot box at least, the very people who would leave their children trapped in under performing schools. I hope to explore that in the very near future. However for now, I want to look at the first front in the left’s ongoing war against all school choice. There has been a sudden onslaught of articles in the mainstream liberal press attacking Christian homeschooling and Christian education in general. I also believe there is a way to circumvent the charges being levied. From the Epoch Times article, Attacks on Christian Homeschooling are No Longer Subtle:
“Early in 2020, Elizabeth Bartholet, a professor at the Harvard Law School, became notorious for advocating a “presumptive ban” on homeschooling.
The 3 to 4 percent of U.S. parents who chose to educate their children at home would have to prove to educational authorities that “their case is justified,” and if they couldn’t do so, would have their children sent to public schools.“
Then COVID 19 was released on the world, and this chatter, which was pretty loud at the time, stopped:
“Then came the coronavirus lockdown. With public schools shuttering their brick-and-mortar classrooms and teachers’ unions promising to keep them shuttered throughout the 2020–21 school year and beyond, the percentage of homeschooling households suddenly surged—to 5.4 percent in late April 2020 and to 11.1 percent by the end of September 2020. Many of the new homeschoolers were otherwise politically liberal urbanites, and the anti-homeschooling movement quickly faded as a progressive cause.“
Recently, in a not so stunning twist, the heat was turned up again in opposition to homeschooling. However, rather than skirting around the real issue, the opponents of school choice revealed their true motivation for opposing homeschooling:
On Jan. 15, the Huffington Post ran a scathing critique of Abeka Publishing and the Bob Jones University Press, which publish textbooks and other materials used by many homeschooling evangelical parents: “Language used in the books overlaps with the rhetoric of Christian nationalism, often with overtones of nativism, militarism, and racism.”
A March 2 article in Ms. Magazine focused on “extremist, white supremacist” homeschooling curricula as “the product of a decades-long crusade to deregulate home- and private-school education, the fruits of which are visible in such phenomena as QAnon, COVID denialism, the Capitol riots …”
On April 22, numerous media outlets, including The Washington Post, ran a (now-deleted) article from the Religion News Service by progressive pastor Doug Pagitt, declaring that “homeschooling in conservative evangelical communities is a key channel for ideas to feed into Christian nationalism.
“The conservative evangelical education system has become a pipeline of extremism,” Pagitt wrote.
Notice that last sentence (emphasis added). Pagitt pivots from “homeschooling” to “the conservative evangelical education system”. It is clear that this is not just about homeschooling, but about Christian education in aggregate. One of the things that they use as a weapon in this ongoing battle to stifle school choice is to rip, out of context, excerpts from Christian education curriculum. The Huffington Post used an excerpt from Abeka Publishing, an extremely popular Christian curriculum, as an example of what they’d consider dangerous ideological dogma in Christian schools:
This provides an excellent opening argument to my belief in the superiority of classical Christian education. Our children currently attend a classical Christian school which is strongly committed to teaching Christian virtues by focusing on the good, the true, and the beautiful. However, the Christian virtues are not taught via compartmentalized, heavily opinionated, heavy-handed preaching of political ideologies that align with the author’s interpretation of Scripture.
In the near future, I hope to make the case that Christian education can be effective without being political, with a focus on classical, transcendent values, and taking the wind out of the sail of those who use excerpts from evangelical curriculum as a lob in their real war, which is actually against school choice.