Burke has celebrated defunding public education through “education savings accounts” as a way to “restore parental control” over education, a frame that contains both the typical free-market conservative argument against public education and the Christian right argument against exposing children to the immorality of “government schools.” In the decades-old fight against public education, a figure like Burke represents something of a united front.
Melissa Gira Grant: The Right Is Winning Its War on Schools
Writing for The New Republic, Melissa Gira Grant looks at the work of some far right groups, particularly the Heritage Foundation and their education point person, Lindsey Burke.
The linchpin in that fight is what is now called “parental rights.” In August 2022, at a Heritage event in Washington, Burke introduced a coalition working for what she called a new “values-based case for school choice.” In 2021, Burke co-wrote a paper with a colleague for the American Enterprise Institute that argued for “allowing families an escape hatch from government schools pushing an agenda that runs counter to their values,” like critical race theory and “transgender ideology.”
This “values-based” coalition Burke said she was introducing in 2022 involved “not just education choice groups,” she explained, “but also groups like Moms for Liberty,” who helped force “parental rights” onto the agenda in school board elections while also aligning with the far right, and “partners” such as Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian nationalist law project focused on anti-LGBTQ and anti-abortion cases, which argued both the Dobbs case and a recent fake same-sex wedding website case. These groups, Burke said, “understand that the school choice movement is the solution to current cultural battles.” Conveniently, these groups also instigated these “battles.”