As 2021 draws to a close, perhaps one of the most important lessons learned for conservatives comes from Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe, who in a Sept. 28 debate with Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, declared: “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.”
With that quotation, McAuliffe not only wrecked his campaign, but exposed what the left is really up to with public education, namely trying to undermine and vitiate parental authority. The lesson for conservatives is to keep pulling the thread on education, because it will keep paying political dividends.
Take, for example, WaPo columnist Kate Cohen, who authored a Nov. 24 op-ed titled: “Parents think they know what is best for schools. But they often don’t.” Cohen didn’t mince words: “…We shouldn’t be in charge of our children’s education. That’s right, I agree with the statement Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe made in a late-September debate.” Quoting McAuliffe’s blunder, Cohen doubles down regarding his assertion about parents not telling schools what to teach. “Of course we shouldn’t!” asserts the mother of three.
It gets better. Cohen continues: “Someone with real expertise should keep up with how many planets there are and how many genders, with the best way to do long division and to talk about race.” She then closes her op-ed: “We need more child-to-parent intergenerational training, as when your child goes to school, learns about the world, and comes home and educates you.”
Let me summarize Cohen’s position. Using her own prudential judgment, Cohen as a parent has determined that what’s taught in her childrens’ school in New York is good for them, and for her. She then writes to persuade adults to make a similar informed judgment to trust education experts. Of course, the obvious implication would be that adults like her and those to whom she is writing are reasonable enough to make informed judgments about what’s best for their children, thus unintentionally disproving her own argument about public school autonomy.
This would be funnier if Cohen’s examples weren’t so terrible. There are two biological sexes, and two genders corresponding to those sexes. That’s not only science, it’s logic.
As my friend and professional philosopher Bryan Cross has argued, “sex is manifested in the teleological order of the body.” As Cross explains in an excellent piece at Public Discourse, “binary quality of sex as male or female can be grounded in the two natural orders of the body with respect to gamete production. This is true even if there is no single genetic marker that determines this.”
The argument that parents need to learn about the ever-expanding rainbow of genders is not only fallacious but dangerous, as Ethics and Public Policy Center Director Ryan Anderson’s book “When Harry Became Sally” (delisted from Amazon) and Abigail Shrier’s “Irreversible Damage” (also targeted for cancellation) so expertly prove. These books, which should be required reading for parents, explain both the fallacious science supporting the transgender movement and the terrible havoc gender dysphoria is causing on a generation of America’s youth.
Moreover, to give our increasingly dogmatic LGBTQ-pushing public schools control over the narrative is often in direct contradiction to what our religious beliefs (and leaders) teach. My own Catholic bishop, Michael F. Burbridge of the Arlington Diocese, earlier this year declared: “The Church teaches that a person is created male or female… No one ‘is’ transgender.”
Cohen’s position fails on yet another point: though raised Jewish, Cohen is an atheist, and, according to her own website, “writing a book about raising my children as atheists.” Yet it wasn’t all that long ago that many public schools explicitly acknowledged the existence of God in the curriculum and school-sponsored activities, and promoted prayer and Bible study. Presumably, Cohen would not want that kind of education foisted upon her own progeny.
Thus we can see the hypocritical double standard at work in the arguments of Cohen and Co. Because such liberals agree with the current political, sexual and racial ideological agenda of many public school districts and teachers, they argue that parents need to trust educators and school administrators. Of course, in an earlier era when they would have flatly disagreed with the public school curriculum on any number of issues, they would have been up in arms, asserting their parental rights and taking their case to the courts.
Yet there is hope here. The more we identify and expose the true ideological agenda of liberal ideologues, the more they seem to double down on their own insane revolutionary program. Although some on the left have made an awkward backstep on critical race theory, gender dysphoria, and blatantly pornographic content, many others, including Cohen, are showing their true colors. In the same piece, Cohen even defends a writing course in Ohio for high school seniors that included writing prompts like “write a sex scene you wouldn’t show your mom.” (Her reasoning is that 17- and 18-year-olds are already imagining sex scenes, so why not let them write about such things in school.)
This is, to put it bluntly, batty. There is reason to hope that most parents know this, and would prefer their kids learn how to read, write, do math, and other essential skills than be indoctrinated in every latest sexual craze among the technocratic elite and academia. There is also reason to hope that most parents are intelligent enough to recognize that Cohen and Co.’s objective is to undermine parental independence and oversight so they can get on with the indoctrination of America’s next generation via their own biased curricula.
At least people like Sharon Kass of Washington seem to get it. In a Nov. 22 WaPo letter to the editor, she noted that public school libraries, though full of pro-LGBTQ material, are “leftist indoctrination centers.” Moreover, she notes, they would never feature books like former diplomat and Voice of America Director Robert R. Reilly’s “Making Gay Okay: How Rationalizing Homosexual Behavior Is Changing Everything.” There’s that pesky double standard again!
The current education debate in this country is the gift that keeps on giving. The more we press secular educators, curriculum developers, and their advocates in the media, Hollywood, and the academy, the more they disclose their true intentions. They want our children’s minds (and bodies), and they want us to either surrender them or play along by what Cohen calls “child-to-parent intergenerational training.” It’s ideas like that parents need to keep demanding leftist activists explain. I have a feeling the answer will be yet another gift.