by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It has become clear over the past several months that the U.S. public education system is a failure. Reading and mathematics scores in K-12 schools were falling even before the COVID pandemic began, but the learning loss students have suffered as a result of school closures has set them back years. It’s estimated that 40% of elementary school students are below grade level in both reading and mathematics. More than 70% of public schools have reported chronic absenteeism among their students, and nearly 90% said their students’ social and emotional development has been stunted significantly.
At the same time, liberal teachers unions and public schools have launched an aggressive effort to force a radical ideology onto students and their parents. Toxic theories such as gender ideology and critical race theory are now commonplace in the classroom, as many families discovered during their children’s pandemic Zoom classes. And although parental pushback against leftist ideology has had a significant impact in many states such as Virginia, the fact remains that powerful institutions, from teachers unions to the Education Department itself, are trying to turn students into leftist ideologues rather than educate them.
Parents need to be able to take students out of this system and set them free to learn. They deserve choice — the ability to send their children to a school that best fits their academic needs and reflects their values. And they need to be able to do so without worrying whether they’ll be able to afford it.
That’s why it is so important to empower families in education. It is why we’ve partnered with leading thinkers and organizations this week to remind families that the education system is supposed to serve them — not the other way around. Children are more important than preserving entrenched systems and vested interests.