The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss is at it again: amplifying far-left partisans in their war on quality education for American kids. On June 8, she wrote about a report claiming schools that use a classics-based curriculum are vanguards of “right-wing Christian nationalism.”
Schools that emphasize personal virtue, English grammar, classic literature, patriotism, original source-based history, traditional and rigorous math and science, and classical artistic training are “designed to attract Christian nationalists with specific imagery and curriculum,” Strauss slanderously claims. I’m not making this up: She and the report claim the American colors of “red, white, and blue” and pictures of the American founders are racist dog whistles.
Such imagery on the schools’ websites is “designed to attract White conservative families,” Strauss says, citing the report. The implicit bigotry is appalling — assuming some people wouldn’t be interested in patriotic ideas simply because of their skin color. Who’s the racist: people who think American patriotism has a skin color or people who don’t?
Strauss and the report she’s citing also attack schools that promote virtuous behavior to their students, because “values” and “virtues” “stand as shorthand for quoted scripture.” We can’t have kids learning about the deep religious beliefs that created their unprecedented equality, liberty, and opportunity, now, could we? That would be horrible! They might, you know, shovel driveways for the elderly, stay faithful to their spouses, and donate their time and money to charity!
According to these anti-American, anti-Christian partisans, who clearly reject the founding American statesmen’s views about the purpose of public education, there’s absolutely no room for teaching children virtue, morality, or religion in public schools. What an interesting message to Christian parents from the people who control public education.
The report makes sure to target highly successful networks of classical schools, including those run by parents trained at and given free curriculum from Hillsdale College (my alma mater), the Great Hearts Academies, and Liberty Common in Fort Collins, Colorado, a model for many other classical schools. Strauss paints it as nefarious that a guy who wrote in The Federalist noticed such schools exist for the “purpose of forming young minds,” as if every single school in existence doesn’t form the minds who enter.
What she really means is that only the left should be allowed to shape people’s minds. That’s what this report and article are really about: boxing out of public education anyone who doesn’t think exactly like politically extremist teachers union leaders do.
This is another illustration of the reality that today’s left doesn’t believe in sharing the public square, public funds, or anything else with people who don’t parrot their views. This is why leftist-run schools don’t educate, they indoctrinate: You can’t educate without conversation.
Monologues are not conversation. Conversation is not shouting down ideas, banning them, or slandering them. That’s why suddenly conservatives are the only ones who believe in free speech, honoring our country’s fathers and mothers, and educating without indoctrinating: The left has abandoned these common goods in the pursuit of political power.
This report is the work product of the Network for Public Education (NPE), founded by Diane Ravitch, who used to believe in educating kids about their American heritage with original source documents. I’d bet you her U.S. history book is on the shelf in many of the schools this report targets because it is in my kids’ Christian classical school.
But Ravitch has subjugated herself to leftist ideology as she’s become more professionally dependent on corrupt teachers unions. She now seeks to foist a similar intellectual degradation on innocent kids. It’s a shame.
Given this connection, it’s no surprise NPE is financially, ideologically, and professionally connected to the nation’s largest teachers unions, which are gigantic, far-left political operations. The Chicago Teachers Union gave NPE and its political action fund, Network for Public Education Action, a series of grants that look like a startup endowment, according to CTU’s own website and its tax forms. From 2014 to 2016, the union’s foundation gave NPE $265,000, according to its tax forms.
CTU is a large affiliate of the massive national American Federation of Teachers union. It is notorious for extremist behavior, including shutting down Chicago schools in 2022 in defiance of elected officials’ decision to restart school post-Covid.
CTU takes in $32 million a year, and the AFT takes in more than $200 million a year, according to their public tax forms. CTU has something like $60 million in assets, and AFT has $140 million. Each has multiple other arms that also rake in millions each, as well as functioning as distributing houses for all the public money they collect.
The NEA, by the way, takes in $600 million a year, and has more than $450 million in assets, according to its tax records. Teachers unions are essentially giant political money laundering operations and among the top donors to the Democrat Party.
NPE says it has also received money more recently from the Schott Foundation for Public Education, which Peter Cook says received more than $1.3 million from unions between 2011 and 2019, according to their disclosures to the U.S. Department of Labor. Schott itself discloses AFT and National Education Association union funding on its website.
Like teachers unions, which strongly support political extremism such as teaching small children about gay sex and hiding kids’ gender struggles from their parents, NPE is an ideologically far-left organization. A conference attendee noted the organization considered canceling or moving its 2016 conference in North Carolina after the state passed a law requiring men to stay out of women’s bathrooms. The report’s retired journalist coauthor is a longtime school choice opponent and teachers union mouthpiece.
So it’s quite rich for an organization connected to some of the biggest leftist political organizing operations in the United States to complain about politics in public education. What they’re really complaining about is competition, which is gaining steam because of how badly these far-left union activists are mangling public schools.
Union money goes all across the country to target any education innovations that threaten their control of the system. Classical schools are one of those threats.
Lots of parents aren’t happy with the current results of unions’ giant political influence operations masquerading as public education. Instead of responding to parents’ concerns about the lack of quality in their kids’ schools and the proliferation of extremist politics, the interest groups making billions off public education belittle concerned parents as Nazis. (Obviously, “white Christian nationalism” is to them a synonym for “Nazi,” a deeply offensive slander that is somehow OK for the left to throw at anyone who disagrees with their politics.)
“[T]he classical/right-wing sector is rapidly growing. Forty-seven percent of the schools we identified opened since the inauguration of Donald Trump in 2017,” the report says. It includes zero reflection about how the rise in leftist extremism since Trump’s tenure may have contributed to this rapid exodus of parents from conventional public schools.
If more parents get better schools that don’t happen to force teachers to launder billions of dollars to the Democrat Party through mandatory union dues, this entire multibillion-dollar power-mongering racket is in danger. This is not at all about the best education for kids; it’s about money and power.