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Why Are Elected Republicans Helping Democrats Reward A Failed Education System?

Republicans are increasing financial support for a broken public education system that is openly hostile to conservative families.

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Researchers at Harvard and Stanford have now confirmed what parents across the country have known for some time: Public education “experts” decimated an entire generation of children with their heavy-handed and politically charged Covid-era policies. Yet, rather than beg forgiveness and seek reconciliation, those very same “experts” are doubling down. 

Many public schools are transforming K-12 curricula based on the Marxist tenets ingrained in critical race theory, while stories involving young women being injured by male transgender high school athletes are now commonplace. Some public school districts have even taken to grift, joining the wave of lawsuits against social media companies and their insidious algorithms, while ignoring their own contributions to the nationwide adolescent mental health crisis. 

In 2014, while campaigning for president, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, was sharply criticized for stating that school choice is “the most compelling civil rights issue of the 21st century.” The senator was absolutely correct, yet a decade later only nine states have adopted policies establishing universal education freedom. To make matters worse, elected Republicans are increasing financial support for a broken public education system that is openly hostile to conservative families.

Just within the last few weeks, the Republican-led House of Representatives passed a $1.2 trillion funding package that allocates almost $80 billion to the left-wing Department of Education. Conservative parents might reasonably ask whether elected Republicans (many of whom send their own children to private school) actually have their best interests at heart. 

Pennsylvania: A Study in Bipartisan Failure

Notwithstanding the mind-boggling federal spending on public education, more than 90 percent of K-12 expenses are funded by state and local taxes. In Pennsylvania, for example, Gov. Josh Shapiro recently touted his $1 billion increase in K-12 education spending, bringing the total annual expenditures on public education to a whopping $19.1 billion, or 44 percent of the total state budget. For some perspective, spending on education in Pennsylvania was about half that, $9.6 billion, in 2019.

It would be easy to blame Democrats for this astounding display of fiscal irresponsibility, but Republicans have controlled the Pennsylvania legislature for much of that time. One would hope that this profligate spending would have led to meaningful increases in compensation and greater job satisfaction for teachers, the individuals doing the hard work of educating the next generation. But that is not the case. Four years and billions of dollars later, Pennsylvania lost nearly 10,000 teachers in 2023 alone.     

So, despite doubling funding in recent years, Pennsylvania teachers are miserable and leaving the profession in droves. What about the kids? One would expect that they are thriving as a result of the billions in extra money flowing into Pennsylvania public schools, but that is not the case either. In fact, Pennsylvania kids are still struggling to recover from the immense harm caused by the state’s enforcement of unlawful policies. 

Pennsylvania families are also fighting the cultural battles infecting schools throughout the country. For example, in late 2022, the Central Bucks School District was targeted by a complaint from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) alleging that certain school district policies and practices were hostile toward LGBT students. After the district spent more than $1 million on the investigation, the superintendent was forced to resign and Democrats regained control of the school board in the following election. Just to rub it in, the newly elected school board president in that district took her oath of office on a stack of controversial LGBT books. At least one thing is clear — the left has mastered the lawfare game at every level. 

Contrast that episode with my experience in the nearby Unionville-Chadds Ford School District. I have spent the last three years trying to hold local school officials accountable for their unlawful conduct during the Covid debacle. Because there is no ACLU equivalent for conservative families, however, the school district has thus far completely ignored my public complaint. At the same time, parents and teachers in my district are left to grapple with the destruction caused by those institutional failures.

Meanwhile, Republican politicians in the commonwealth are nowhere to be found. To be sure, the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee has lamented the governor’s out-of-control spending, but a cursory reading of his list of grievances reveals that he is long on criticism and short on solutions. Republican officials in Pennsylvania cozy up to conservative voters when they need them, but then continue to fuel a public education system that is diametrically opposed to the primacy of parental rights.      

School Choice Is a Fundamental Right

In Meyer v. Nebraska, the Supreme Court held that parents have a fundamental right “to control the education of their own.” A few years later, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the court affirmed that government cannot unreasonably interfere with the liberty of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children. Nevertheless, a century later, the state has far more control over the destiny of our children than anyone ever expected. 

Parental support for school choice mirrors the overwhelming support for congressional term limits yet seems destined for the same fate. Gov. Shapiro campaigned on expanding school choice, but once he was elected promptly abandoned his promise. So Pennsylvanians are left with the status quo — teachers aren’t happy, parents aren’t happy, and children are falling behind. Yet the public education machine barrels on.

Since 2000, the public school administrative class in Pennsylvania has grown by nearly 40 percent, and the top 10 superintendents in Pennsylvania make well over $250,000 per year. Yet the average starting salary for teachers is still below $60,000 throughout much of the state. The system isn’t working for anyone but the people who decide how to control the flow of Pennsylvania’s $20 billion education budget.

What is happening in Pennsylvania is a perfect example of the extent to which Republican officials have betrayed conservative families, the very people they are supposed to represent. In an election year, it is fair for those voters to take a closer look at the people seeking their support. The data is in, and the harm to children caused by the disastrous policy decisions during the pandemic is undeniable. So what are parents to do about it?

For all the blame they can justifiably lay at the feet of Democrat politicians and their powerful union bosses, perhaps it is time to turn their attention to elected Republicans. Rather than hold the “experts” accountable and demand comprehensive school choice as a form of reconciliation, Republicans are instead rewarding a public education establishment that indisputably harmed children and still aggressively pushes policies that intentionally undermine conservative families.

It is time for Republican officials to step up for those families. If they don’t, then perhaps it is time for those families to stop supporting Republican politicians.


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