November 13, 2021

Steve Nelson: Drowning Education In A Bathtub

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Substacking at First Do No Harm, Steve Nelson writes about the existential threat to public education that he sees.

The same fine folks who brought us the Critical Race Theory (CRT) scare tactic to win the Virginia gubernatorial election are now poised to bring our public education system to its knees and then put it out of its misery.

In an alarming New York Times column, Michelle Goldberg recounts an exchange with Christopher Rufo, the manipulative wizard behind the weaponizing of CRT for broad political purposes.  Rufo gleefully admits that the CRT gambit, combined with widespread pandemic frustration, provides a perfect storm for completion of the decades-long conservative goal of weakening and effectively eliminating “government schools.”

Conservatives have similarly weaponized the phrase “government schools” as an emotional trigger intended to disingenuously characterize public schools as institutional agents of a sinister plot to indoctrinate children into a socialist, anti-religion agenda that violates parental rights, freedom of choice and traditional values.  That none of this is true is of no consequence to the likes of Rufo or other conservatives.  An example of Rufo’s propaganda landed on my desktop as I wrote this post, fresh from his Twitter account:

Language tip: school choice advocates should always say “scholarships” instead of “vouchers.” It gives a connotation of opportunity and forces our opponents to take the unenviable position of denying scholarships to families and children.

This calculated campaign gives fresh energy to persistent efforts to divert billions of tax dollars into religious education, voucher schemes and charter schools.  Despite all the claims made by charter advocates, study after study shows that public schools do as well or better than charters, even by the relatively meaningless metric of test scores.

The pandemic has turbocharged the school choice movement by also mobilizing anti-mask and anti-vaccine sentiments.  In communities all through the nation, efforts to follow public health protocols have subjected school officials to attacks, up to and including death threats.   The few school systems that have begun to offer vaccinations are under vicious attack for supposedly sacrificing innocent children to a government campaign to impose unproven medical treatments.

These falsehoods run in tandem with local and state elections for school boards and state legislatures.  The evidence is rapidly mounting that this mandate for parental “rights” will spawn new voucher legislation and other school choice measures in unprecedented numbers.

Read the full piece here.

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