America was a leader in providing free public schooling to all children. Many rulers feared the educated. America feared the ignorant. The Founding Fathers were resolute that democracy could only work with an educated electorate that could select qualified leaders. The “Three Rs” were important, but most important was critical thinking. People had to be able to independently assess what information made sense. In the 19th century, the importance of education in America skyrocketed. Seventeen million immigrants, mostly Irish Catholics, Italian Catholics, and German and Russian Jews from southern and central Europe, joined a nation overwhelmingly descended from white northern European protestants, in addition to 4 million free blacks. Racial, ethnic, and religious conflict was everywhere. Something had to be done.
Schools became essential to developing unity. Instead of Irish Catholics, Italian Catholics, British Anglicans, German Lutherans, Russian Jews, and blacks of various faiths, the job of the schools was to unify students as Americans by teaching American values. Being an American carried no racial, ethnic, or religious component. Americans spoke English, valued academic excellence, and knew how success was tied to working hard, family values, self-reliance, and obeying the law. America’s public school system became the lynchpin to the United States becoming the world’s largest economy and then a global superpower. America defied the odds and proved the naysayers wrong. Leaders all over the world saw American diversity as a wellspring of conflict that would one day implode.
Today, public schools build curriculums to divide the equally diverse students that fill American schools. Students are not being taught what it means to be an American, instead, they learn about people as white, black, brown, L, G, B, T, Q, or cisgender heterosexual. Critical thinking is being replaced with rote indoctrination. Public schools following critical race theory can’t teach American values because the curriculum is anti-American and anti-white. Working hard and self-reliance is deprecated because equality of opportunity is being replaced with equality of outcomes. Students are taught that different personal outcomes are not products of education and hard work; they are outcomes of white privilege or lack thereof. Obeying the rule of law is out, and “social justice” is in. Family values are out; single parenting and LGBTQ are in. Academic excellence is out; teaching to the lowest common denominator is in.
Parents need to never say die in opposing educational policies that divide the nation and destroy essential American values. These values underlie a superpower that 100 years ago was racked by ethnic, racial, and religious conflict, poverty, and disease. America used to be admired on the world stage, now it is ridiculed for its dangerous tack into illiberal left wokeness. The continued success of America sits on the backs of bold parents leveraging their protected right to protest against misguided, woke school boards and educators who are charting a path to prove the naysayers right.
Kathleen Brush, Ph.D.