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Can Our Schools Be Reformed? Is It Even In North Carolina's Sights?

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

- Eric Blankenburg, The Eric Blankenburg Report, 01-25-2023

Reform is happening in other states. What will it take?

An old expression claims, “every cloud has a silver lining”. The cloud of COVID-19 had a silver lining too. It helped to expose the dysfunction of America’s public education system. The pandemic made parents aware that something is terribly wrong in public schools.

One key discovery was that many of America’s public schools are engaged in neo-Marxist indoctrination. The “1619 Project”, “Critical Race Theory”, and gender ideology form the basis of how public schools are undermining our history, values, and reality itself. A recent undercover video from Ohio exposed how school employees covertly push left-wing propaganda, even when it is banned. They just change the words to comply with the law but keep the concepts intact. It is of no consequence to school employees if parents object.

Pandemic & Kids

The government’s mishandling of the pandemic also caused the academic performance of America’s children to suffer. Math scores plummeted by the largest margins since 1969. And the poorest inner-city schools suffered the most.

Prior to the pandemic, math scores had been slowly increasing for the last couple of decades. But they were still not up to par with international standards. According to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), America spends more money on education per student than every developed country except Norway. Yet, we get lousy results with American students usually scoring in the bottom half in science and towards the very bottom in math compared to other developed countries. For example, in 2015 American kids scored 36th in math out of 38 OECD countries despite enormous spending and two decades of “progress”.

American Success Relies On Education

An educated population is critical to our success as a country. America’s prosperity has always been driven by our technical prowess — a free people in a free country inventing new technologies from the cotton gin to the microprocessor that provided countless benefits to society. But we cannot continue to be a wealthy country with an innumerate and scientifically illiterate population.

Fortunately, educated immigrants from places like China and India continue to immigrate to the U.S. to help us innovate and compete. It’s great that America is still a destination for hard-working immigrants who want a better life. But abandoning American citizens because there is an ample supply of educated immigrants is a dangerous proposition for societal cohesion and stability. Immigrants should supplement Americans, not supplant them.

Our children’s education shouldn't be a partisan issue. In the recent past, there were some Democrats who advocated reforming our hidebound education system in various ways. For example, when I first lived in North Carolina when I was in the Air Force, the Democrat Governor Jim Hunt was pushing the idea of "Magnet Schools". He established a magnet high school in Durham, the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, which focuses on math, science, and technology. It was one of the first of its kind in the country. The concept of Charter Schools was invented by Ray Budde, who was an education

professor. Charter Schools were first popularized by Albert Shanker, who was the President of the American Federation of Teachers, which is the second-largest teacher’s union in the country. Michelle Rhee, an educator, and school administrator pushed for reforms including limiting teacher tenure and paying teachers based on the academic performance of their students while she was the School Superintendent in D.C.

Unfortunately, today’s Democrat Party has decisively turned against education reform. The current crop of Democrat politicians is mere sock puppets of the education establishment. They are elected to ensure that no meaningful education reform can ever happen.

Can We Do It?

I have looked at sclerotic public schools for a long time and have concluded that they cannot be reformed. This is especially true of the worst public schools in the inner cities. A combination of intransigent teachers’ unions along with the corrupt Democrat politicians who protect the unions make reform impossible. Some conservatives disagree. They hope that legislative changes, more funding, and a tiny bit of private-sector competition can fix the problems. Unfortunately, there isn’t any evidence to support their conclusions. We continue to pump more money into public schools every year, yet our academic performance continues to fall far below those of our international competitors.

And now we also must contend with the public schools indoctrinating our children with neo-Marxist propaganda. As the undercover video of the Ohio teachers demonstrates, conservatives cannot possibly win the culture war in the public schools, because we aren’t in the classrooms. Leftist teachers, counselors, and administrators are with our children all day long. That gives them a tremendous advantage in the current system that we cannot overcome. And America certainly cannot continue being a free country with a population devoid of historical understanding who believes that the founding fathers are evil, and that Marxism has any answers at all.

What Is The Answer?

So, what is the answer? Competition in the private sector has given us better choices in virtually every area of life that is not controlled or heavily regulated by the government. Competition in the private sector can give us better schools too. A diverse combination of charter, private, parochial, micro, and home schools can provide a much better education for our children than the government.

This Just In

"Iowa will be funding students instead of a system. Public schools are the foundation of our educational system, and for most families, they’ll continue to be the option of choice. But they aren’t the only choice. And for some families, a different path may be better for their children,"

Last year, Arizona passed the nation’s first universal school choice bill. Yesterday, Kim Reynolds signed a universal school choice bill in Iowa. North Carolina needs to do the same. I know that some conservatives have concerns about school vouchers. They correctly point out that any vouchers would come with strings attached. But vouchers aren’t the only way to achieve school choice. There are many other options, including but not limited to tax deductions, tax credits, and the outright reduction of taxes to help families pay for private alternatives to public schools.

The Future of America

The COVID-19 pandemic caused parents to become more disillusioned with public schools than ever before. There will never be a better time to act. Conservatives in North Carolina must quickly coalesce around a strong school choice program and push the state legislature to pass it. Conservatives in other states must follow suit. Let the Democrat legislators vote against it. Let the Democrat governors veto it. Passing universal school choice will let parents know that we are with them and are serious about education reform. That will enable us to defeat the left and implement our reforms. Nothing is more important for the future of America.

The Blankenburg Report

Eric Blankenburg

Eric is a husband, father of four, technology guy, U.S. Air Force veteran, and left coast refugee. He is a lifelong conservative and “disgruntled” Republican, who has sought ways to help the GOP live up to its values. When Eric is not working or spending time with his family, he likes to write about a variety of current issues. Eric is a regular writer for Liberty First Grassroots (LFG).

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