When Trump named Betsy Devos as the Department of Education Secretary, the trumpet call for school choice was sounded loud and clear. As secretary, she was open from the outset that school choice was an option that all parents should have. The progressive left was unsurprisingly against this notion and excoriated Devos every opportunity they had. There is power in the places of learning because the battle of ideas happens from an early age, and both sides of the political aisle naturally want to make sure that certain ideas are taught. As education has become more and more bureaucratized, school choice is now an excellent vehicle for parents to control the battle of ideas within the school systems of which they send their children.
But not everyone can afford a private school. Not everyone has access to transportation to send their kid out of district or to a charter school. School choice is necessary but it does not solve the problem of sub-standard teaching or ideological indoctrination (i.e. Critical Race Theory) in public schools where a vast majority of the country’s students are taught. So what options are available to parents when school choice is limited?
It bears repeating as often as is necessary that it is the right and responsibility of the parent to educate their child. The choice available to the parent is to be responsible for the curriculum taught to their kids. This is not easy, but expediency and convenience rarely lead to responsible choices. Schools should not be viewed as daycare for kids and parents must understand the curriculum being taught. Schools and teachers are responsible for informing parents what they are teaching especially when asked by the parents. Ask for the syllabus and the reading list. Review the textbooks given by the school district. Volunteer to work in the classroom. Be prepared to teach your children when the teacher is presenting revisionist history. Find out who is writing the textbooks being taught. Advocate to the school board or the principal what and why certain textbooks should be part of the curriculum over others.
Another critical aspect of curriculum is empowering teachers to stand up against curriculum they do not feel comfortable teaching or that contradicts the truth or rewrites history. We must support teachers like Tanner Cross who spoke out at a school board meeting that he would not teach his elementary kids transgenderism. We must give brave teachers not only a voice, but protections against activists who would try to ruin their livelihood and reputation over political issues. We must support paying our teachers more by getting rid of the bloated bureaucracy present in most large school districts. We must get to know the teachers and make sure our kids are enrolled in classes that have curriculum that teaches truth. Why don’t we let school choice and thoughtful and engaged parents be the safehaven for teachers opposed to the teacher unions? Why can’t our movement be the safe place for teachers?
If school choice is the vehicle to win the battle of ideas then school curriculum is the road to changing the course of the country. Progressives and Marxists have understood this and have played the long game for decades. It is time for us to take an active role in the curriculum taught to our kids from Kindergarten to High School and even colleges and universities. If this means more kids are taken out of school to be homeschooled, then we need to send a message to public schools that we will not tolerate political demagogues swaying our children’s curriculum. We must encourage and support free market solutions to educate our kids. School board elections matter but so do the everyday parents who hold teachers and schools accountable; those parents who come alongside teachers to help educate their children. Curriculum is the other half of a very important battle of ideas that will affect our country for generations to come.