Those on the right cannot march out bravely every two years to conduct a tactical fight with an opponent that is operating strategically, battle to a draw, then rinse and repeat two years later. A longer view of how this occurred and how the nation remains deadlocked is required.
Schools are a key long-term way to turn this cycle around. It won’t be fast. It has taken the nation about a century of increasing government control of education to get to this point. But we need to break the indoctrination of the young. Otherwise, we’ll continue to be forced into retreat.
The way to expose illogic and reduce the media’s capability to demonize traditional viewpoints is to teach kids independent thought. Those independent thinkers will not come from a one-size-fits-all schooling system. Arguing against an adversarial educational ideology places conservatives 13 or more years behind the power curve in a campaign.
Creating educational options is the long-term answer to the cultural renewal required to revive classic American self-government. Consider that this year’s midterm efforts just spent approximately $17 billion. Assuming a rough split in midterm expenditures, conservatives light something like $8 billion on fire supporting wishful campaigns and failed candidates in election after election. That’s the price of starting 8,000 schools, considering that it costs about a million bucks to get a charter school going from scratch.
Merit Academy, the classical charter school a small group of us founded in rural Teller County, Colorado last year, is growing rapidly. Our little school is planning for approximately 600 kids at full development. So for the price of one set of failed midterm expenditures, the right could teach about 4.8 million kids in schools like ours to think independently and grow in virtue instead of mental and economic dependence.
There are about 50 million schoolkids in the United States. What if another 10 percent were taught how, not what, to think in better public schools such as charters tend to be? What if there were an additional 10 percent reached the year after that? And the year after that? This is how to make strategic investments to change our nation’s course.
Reversing our national decline won’t be an easy or fast fix. Strategy requires a deep effort, one focused on creating a better informed, wiser electorate that will make better long-term policy choices. What is $31 trillion in debt divided by 53 million students anyway?
It seems there are likely two ways our nation’s deep problems get fixed. The first option is to keep going down the road of decline by design until the car drives off the cliff and a great awakening occurs. That may be an unrecoverable path like Pickett’s at Gettysburg.
The second option is to educate our young to realize that, yes, sometimes you have to eat spinach, choose the less comfortable path, and think about the future. I wish everyone who just torched money in an electoral tactical failure could rethink how they strategically invest to save the nation. There has to be both a short-term and a long-term strategic plan, and it’s not clear that either of these time horizons is going well.
Regardless of how one defines the nation’s problems, better education is the beginning of the answers. Classical choice schools focus on preparing children for success in a free society, promoting civic responsibility, and contributing their talents to a flourishing republic by pursuing beauty, truth, and good.
Overcoming the million-dollar hurdle to starting a school is an immense lift. We had folks who dug right through the bottom of their pockets to help us, mortgaging their own property. In year two, we’re still facing those start-up needs. Merit Academy’s first class won’t even graduate for three more years, an eternity in an era of 30-second sound bites.
But oh, the reward at the end. Those rewards include a set of young adults, independent thinkers, prepared by character and academic education to make wiser choices and help those behind them do so as well.
You might be mad about Election Day. If so, were you mad two years ago as well? Stop getting mad and start getting smart. Think not only short-term but also long-term. Find a parent group trying to change the future, one student and one school at a time. Support them with not just kind words and thoughts but also with your volunteering and money.
Think long, think strategically, think big picture, then act in a way that will put the nation back on track. It took us a long time to dig our nation into its very deep hole, and your support for school choice can shorten the time it takes to fill it back in.