American Public Schools on the ‘Cusp’ of Major Reform: President of Heritage Foundation

By Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.
and Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."
July 13, 2022 Updated: July 13, 2022

Kevin Roberts, president of The Heritage Foundation and former president of Wyoming Catholic College, says that the government’s COVID-19 lockdowns, although destructive, have had the benefit of giving parents a comprehensive look through their child’s online classroom, which is riddled with an extreme and inappropriate ideology.

Parents are geared up to change the system and this ideological indoctrination in public schools, Roberts said, and it is the nation’s parents that have brought the public school system to the cusp of major reform.

“I could not be more optimistic or excited about the reforms that are going to come for the sake of the poorest, most disadvantaged American whose opportunity in this country rests upon access to a great education,” Roberts said during a July 7 interview for EpochTV’s “American Thought Leaders” program.

Roberts feels passionate about providing an exceptional academic pro-American education to all students instead of indoctrination. Parents he speaks to throughout the nation are questioning school officials about this indoctrination and making sure the course is corrected, said Roberts.

“What they unearthed was evil,” he said. “What they unearthed was what I have argued is a cabal among the U.S. Department of Education, most curriculum vendors, and many state departments of education.”

The curricula approved by these government agencies and education organizations were written by radical leftist and socialists, Roberts said.

Roberts is referring to the critical race theory-based curricula that are espoused under the banner of diversity, equity, and inclusion, which also includes an extreme and scientifically-flawed gender ideology and sex ed curriculum.

When parents wanted answers from school board officials as to why students were being indoctrinated with social justice and transgender ideologies, they were labeled by President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice as “domestic terrorists,” said Roberts.

Parents Are the Answer

Parents are going to bring about the change in the school system as they did in Virginia, where voters elected Republican Gov. Glenn Youngkin because of his pro-parent, anti-critical race theory stance. His opponent, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, campaigned in favor of teachers unions and spoke down to the parents.

Other states like Florida are codifying parental rights into state law and making parents the final authority on what their child is taught in public schools, especially on the topics of sex and race.

Florida’s Parental Bill of Rights is extremely important, said Roberts.

“It is reminding parents—but most of all reminding their policymakers, their state legislators, their school board representatives—that it is in the parents where real authority resides,” he said.

Roberts said the Florida law has also put local lawmakers on notice that they must listen to the parents, and not to school board officials or school administrations.

Epoch Times Photo
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis displays the signed Parental Rights in Education bill flanked by elementary school students during a news conference at Classical Preparatory school in Shady Hills, Fla., on March 28, 2022. (Douglas R. Clifford/Tampa Bay Times via AP)

“What has gone on recently in Arizona with the expansion of parental rights and educational freedom has really encouraged governors across this land,” said Roberts.

School Choice for All

In Arizona, Gov. Steve Ducey recently signed into law a school choice bill that allows all students to claim a voucher that can be used to pay for private school, public charter school, home school, or other options.

He said American conservatives want school choice and believe every dollar invested in education should follow the student to the school of their parents’ choice, and that they expect this to happen within the next few years.

In addition, Roberts said that the lockdowns and mandatory school closures did irreparable harm to students, and that policymakers, school board officials, superintendents, and governors abused their power.

Aside from the missed learning time, American students lag behind their international counterparts because they are not being taught academic subjects well enough, and instead there is a fixation on social justice and equity, said Roberts.

“An increasing percentage of time in American classrooms in the last 20 years has been spent on ideology, not on educational subjects,” he said. “That’s not what we need to be doing in schools. We need to be teaching kids how to read and write.”

Parents all across the United States have been questioning their school board officials about why hyper-sexualized content, transgender ideology, and critical race theory are being taught instead of more fundamental and necessary academic skills.

“Since 1990 and especially since 2010, the achievement of American students in every subject, relative to their peers—kids of the same age—in every other part of the world, has declined,” said Roberts.

This directly emboldens the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), putting their students at an advantage for filling the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics), he said.

‘Truth’ and Facts Are Real

A former professor of history, Roberts said despite what the progressives believe, there is such a thing as objective truth and facts, and that students in public schools need to be educated using a pro-American curriculum.

“Part of that objective truth, part of the facts about America are that this country was founded with a very noble objective,” said Roberts, “because a person from any faith, ethnic background, any economic background can come to America, and … they are guaranteed equal opportunity,” said Roberts.

They are not guaranteed equal outcome, Roberts said, unlike what the left wants to believe.

The Founding Fathers believed in natural law and that all humans are equal in the eyes of God, said Roberts.

“Each one of us, regardless of our differences in skin color, differences in religion, differences in being rich or poor, we’re the same. We’re equal, as I understand it, in God’s eyes,” said Roberts.

Founding Fathers
A detail from the 1819 painting, “Declaration of Independence,” by John Trumbull. (Public Domain)

The Founding Fathers drafted the United States’s core documents—the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the Bill of Rights—guided by natural law, said Roberts. The laws that “flowed” from these documents create an environment where every person has equal opportunity, and that should apply to the unborn as well.

Supreme Court Makes Correct Decision

Roberts said that his pro-life stance comes not only from his religious faith, but from his intellectual understanding of natural law.

“How in the world could we build societies, whether in the United States or in Europe or in Asia or Africa, built resting upon the idea of natural law, natural rights, if we can’t guarantee the first right, which is to be born?” said Roberts.

He said conservatives should “not get into really vitriolic arguments with people who are pro-abortion but to accept our differences of opinion, to ignore some of the vitriol that they send our way.”

Roberts advocates for a more sincere and thorough effort to educate women on the perils of abortion and give them support, so they can make better, life-affirming decisions about their unwanted pregnancies.

“Let’s not condemn anybody. Let us love them. Let us understand that this great republic rests upon having a debate,” said Roberts, adding that it is time for conservatives to focus on the state level to bring about pro-life outcomes.

Roberts argued that Justice Samuel Alito’s written opinion on Roe v. Wade gives the reader a beautiful example of natural law and the founding history of the United States.

“This opinion—from the standpoint of reasoning, rhetoric, logic, writing style, clarity of writing—is one of the most important documents ever in the history of the American Republic,” said Roberts.

The intellectual history of the United States is transmitted in the words Justice Alito used in his opinion, Roberts said.

Roberts encourages everyone to read Alito’s written opinion (pdf), and “let the words and the reasoning and the beautiful measured rhetoric persuade them, because we will understand not just the issue at hand— abortion—we will understand where we come from intellectually and socially.”

Alito’s opinion also provides a context for understanding the rule of law’s importance to our country, which most citizens take for granted, said Roberts.

Epoch Times Photo
Members of the Supreme Court pose for a group photo in Washington on April 23, 2021. (Front, L–R) Justices Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor. (Back L–R) Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett. (Erin Schaff/Getty Images)

“Rule of law is a principle under which all persons, institutions, and entities are accountable to laws that are: publicly promulgated, equally enforced, and independently adjudicated,” according to the U.S. Courts website.

Roberts said he sees a crisis in understanding and appreciation of the rule of law, giving examples of recent events such as the attacks on conservative Supreme Court justices, the 2021 autonomous zone in Seattle, the crisis at the southern border, and the attack on conservatives as they left the White House after a nomination event hosted by former President Donald Trump.

Besides helping people understand the importance of the country’s founding principles and natural law, Roberts, in his role at The Heritage Foundation, said he wants to help revive respect for civil discourse.

“One of the aspects of my job that I enjoy the most is trying to help restore to America—left, right, center—an understanding of civil discourse that we can disagree without being disagreeable,” said Roberts.

Criticism Follows Courage

Roberts said his decision making is informed by his faith, a deep love for his country, and the responsibility of teaching future generations about what makes the United States exceptional. Roberts said he knows he’s made a courageous decision when he is being criticized by the left.

“Criticism follows courage, as I have found,” he said.

Roberts was criticized when he was president of Wyoming Catholic College for refusing federal funds that would have required the school to abide by the Obama administration’s rules about contraception coverage.

“Even though a lot of criticism came my way from bureaucrats or media types from The New York Times, which derisively called us ‘cowboy Catholics,’ we took that as a great encouragement that we were doing the right thing,” he said.

The funding would have come with strings attached that required the college to go against its religious beliefs and Roberts refused to do that, even though it caused financial hardship. However, he knows that God blessed that decision because it took courage and aligned with the school’s religious values.

“I think if we can get back in America to more of our policymakers having that kind of courage—which is just kind of simplistic, it’s really good, it’s an easy thing to do—then I think this country will be better off.”

Masooma Haq
Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.
Jan Jekielek
Senior Editor
Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, "American Thought Leaders." Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film "Finding Manny."