Writing at Law & Liberty, Boise State University political science professor Scott Yenor posits that school choice won’t suffice to root out corruption in the nation’s K-12 education system.
“School choice advocates are insufficiently radical” to solve the problem, Yenor writes.
Although choice is a good thing, what is really necessary is a concerted public effort to dismantle the current education institutions and replace them with better ones, Yenor argues:
The only way to beat bad, corrupt institutions is with new, uncorrupt ones. This means first dismantling the current institutions, with popular support and with intelligent leadership. Efforts to ban CRT and its associated ideologies may help conjure up popular support for dismantling the system. A political community that adopts school choice has already come to hold the purely public system in lower esteem. Efforts to expose the public system for what it really is are indispensable prerequisites for a fundamental dismantling of the corrupt system.
State legislatures could get out of the business of banning and get into the business of demanding—demanding that certain conclusions about American history be delivered, for instance. Legislatures could require that schools spend three weeks on the American Revolutionary War, and that they know the role played by George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, the Articles of Confederation, Benedict Arnold, Saratoga, Yorktown, the meaning of the Declaration, the participation of the French, the incomplete movement toward the emancipation of slavery in some states and so on. Perhaps the Hillsdale K-12 History curriculum could be adopted.
School days could be shortened. Standards should be adopted so that there is no room for anything else. All curricula could be put online. Teacher training could be put online. A back-to-basics approach to math. Legislatures could even demand that certain reading books be adopted, certain science curriculum. A demand that students learn the parts of speech, diagram sentences, and so on. Legislatures should demand results in line with a new rigorous education—or threaten funding.
Tons of money is shoveled into our school systems and there are no effective accountability mechanisms. We tend to treat education as if it were a scientific domain of experts. Education is always political, and experts alone have revealed that they cannot be trusted with it. Only political dictation to education institutions can work in the short and medium term, until a new elite taken with a vision of civic renewal can arise. Here’s hoping many people are working on that project too.
I would like to draw attention to two points. One, Yenor is right in his assessment that the current disarray in the K-12 education system may make such a “fundamental transformation” politically possible. Two, directed implementation—and, I would add rigorous enforcement—of positive standards regarding what should be taught is essential.
State legislators must accept their responsibility as lawmakers and dictate precisely what will be taught in the schools the taxpayers are required to pay for.
Lawmakers should not be allowed to hide from this responsibility.
Read the full article here.