by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Let’s face it, Democrats are very good at what they do. No, not governing. I mean what they actually do. Democrats are geniuses at spending your money on things you hate — without your finding out until it’s too late.
The latest Democratic education gambit adds nearly half a billion dollars to President Biden’s fiscal 2023 budget to fund community schools. Does “community schools” ring a bell? I didn’t think so. Few Americans know what community schools are. When first explained, the idea may even sound harmless. In reality, unfortunately, more community schools will mean a whole lot more critical race theory — not to mention more school-sponsored leftist political activism. By what sleight-of-hand do Democrats manage to cram so much mischief into so seemingly innocent a package? Let’s see.
Progressives and teachers’ unions favor community schools as a remedy for low educational achievement in impoverished urban neighborhoods. The idea is for schools to offer an array of services that children in poor communities will not likely get at home: health care, mental-health support, nutritional help, violence-prevention programs, tutoring, etc. If schools can provide what impoverished families cannot, it is claimed, the achievement gap between poor minority students and the middle class just might shrink.
Progressives hope to convert as many low-performing public schools as possible into community schools. They see this as a way to block conservative attempts to create alternatives to poorly performing public schools via charters, choice, and competition for enrollment based on a school’s academic performance as measured by tests. Unions especially love community schools because they prevent teachers at low-performing public schools from experiencing consequences for meager academic results. Conservatives, on the other hand, are suspicious of community schools precisely because they de-emphasize academics in favor of social services. At their worst, as we’ll see below, community schools substitute progressive political indoctrination for academics. Teachers give up on excellence, and progressives get an army of student converts to boot.