The time for parental choice in American education is now

Star Parker
Conservative Opinion

Star Parker

Founder & President, Center for Urban Renewal and Education
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It’s no secret that the present-day United States of America is bitterly divided. I’m not just talking about differing political views but also ideological beliefs. The hyper-partisanship in Washington only serves to reinforce what many Americans already feel: that the schism between conservatives and liberals has widened too much.

From government spending to cancel culture and race relations, there are split views on so many issues that we can’t simply just chalk it up to a difference of opinions. We even disagree on U.S. history and the foundation of our great nation.

On one side stands the people who support critical race theory and believe America was founded on racism and oppression. The opposing viewpoint sees the U.S. as a beacon of liberty unlike any other in the history of mankind. That is not a difference of opinion. We’re talking about fundamentally different perspectives. It’s not just my opinion. Polling backs it up.

In a 2020 survey done by Pew Research just prior to the presidential election, 80% of Donald Trump supporters, and 77% of Joe Biden supporters said, regarding the opposition, “Not only do we have different priorities when it comes to politics, but we fundamentally disagree about core American values.”

Well, if half the country disagrees with the other half about “core American values,” what exactly can we expect public schools receiving federal funds to teach regarding the nature and purpose of our Constitution or about our nation’s history?

How can we expect a public school system to adequately serve children from families that hold such different points of view? The answer is: we can’t. This is why giving parents the freedom to choose the school they believe is best for their kids is the only sensible solution here. Parents have the right to want their kids to be taught within the prism of the values and viewpoints they believe in, and not be beholden to generalized lesson plans in an outdated universal public school system.

Parents deserve the freedom to choose the right education for their children. It’s time to give it to them.

The issue of critical race theory is raising a more fundamental question about our nation: education.

Education is about more than teaching children to read and write. 

It is about transmitting values, transmitting a worldview, that will define how our youth think and how they will live.

Per the Department of Education, in 2020, 56.4 million children were enrolled in K-12 education. 

Of these, 50.7 million were in public schools, and 5.7 million were in private schools.

So, government plays a substantial role in the education of our children.

Per the Department of Education, “Each educational institution that receives federal funds for a fiscal year is required to hold an educational program about the U.S. Constitution for its students.” 

In a 2020 survey done by Pew Research just prior to the presidential election, 80% of Donald Trump supporters, and 77% of Joe Biden supporters said, regarding the opposition, “Not only do we have different priorities when it comes to politics, but we fundamentally disagree about core American values.”

Well, if half the country disagrees with the other half about “core American values,” what exactly can we expect public schools receiving federal funds to teach regarding the nature and purpose of our Constitution or about our nation’s history?

In a more recent survey done by Morning Consult/Politico, of those who said they had seen, read or heard “a lot” about critical race theory, 7% of Democrats and 78% of Republicans described it negatively.

Among all voters, 36% said it should not be included in K-12 curricula, and 32% said it should be included.

We’re not talking here about a difference of opinion regarding enacting some new national holiday, or difference of opinion about particular government spending programs.

We’re talking about fundamentally different worldviews about our national history and culture.

In one view, our nation is rooted in and defined by racism and oppression. In the other view, the nation’s founding was a landmark moment in human history, in which, for the first time, a society would be defined by liberty, justice and equality before the law.

Can we have a school system that mixes oil and water? I don’t think so.

Americans are not just deeply divided in understanding our nation’s history. We are deeply divided in our values regarding life itself.

According to a new Gallup poll, for the first time since they have been asking the question, more Americans define themselves as social liberals than social conservatives.

Thirty-four percent define themselves as social liberals, versus 30% defining themselves as social conservatives.

We’re talking here about deep differences in attitudes regarding sex, marriage, family, and abortion.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states and the District of Columbia require their public schools to provide sex education.

But what are they teaching?

We all know that the culture war raging in our divided nation today is about two different and distinguished worldviews that cannot be reconciled.

So, the question regarding how we educate our nation’s children is one that needs attention.  

I think it not rational nor reasonable to continue to insist that we can have a universal public school system.

I think there is only one answer.

And if we can all agree that our nation is about freedom, then we should be able to agree that it is time for parental choice in education across the nation. 

It is time to let parents decide what their children will learn and give parents the freedom to select a school for their child that teaches the worldview and the values that they want.

It is time for money to follow children to whatever school the parents want.

And my hope is that the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Maine School Choice case of Carson v Makin this spring, will put a final nail in the coffin of teachers’ unions and other outside interests trapping children in schools against their parents’ values and interests.

It is the only way forward to keep the culture war civil.


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