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We Should Pay Attention to School

by Melissa Milburn

education is a local issue

Need a reason to get involved with local politics? Just drop your child off at school, or for that matter, pick them up. Anyone who lived through the new math craze a few years ago could be forgiven for wondering if the earnest person their local government had hired to educate our future leaders was simply making it up as they went. Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama both sparred with education policies, but it triggered some unintended consequences about the same time that identity politics started to take over just about everything.

Education got thrust back into the limelight with the covid lockdowns – where parents saw – some with mounting horror – what was being taught to their children. The GOP’s Parent’s Bill of Rights is hard to argue with, in principle; parents should know what their children are being taught in school. Lecturing a room full of middle schoolers that the white kids are all out to get the darker ones (it happens – not as much as the right wants you to believe, but more than the left likes to concede) is obviously bad for the children and bad for a community – although it makes the teacher feel like a real 60’s activist.

On the other hand, a handful of parents throwing a fit because they’ve decided that Michelangelo’s David is porn, or plan to burn every book from The Color Purple to Harry Potter need to be ignored as well.

Parents should have a say in education, and in places where school boards are elected, they really do, provided that they actually come out and vote. Parents also need to understand that public schools are just that – public. They are the community and in a functioning democratic community everyone gets a say, but no one has an absolute veto, either. No single clique of parents or teachers with a self-important axe to grind needs to be telling largely confused pre-teens that whitey is out to get them or that an iconic piece of Western cultures heritage has too much wang in it.

Teachers Unions have gotten very arrogant and radical – and in Democratic states that have entire too much sway. At least that’s what my friends in Blue states tell me. I live in a Red state, where parent’s groups, arrogant and radical in their own way, and arguably have too much sway as well. I could be wrong, but this seems to be the distorting effects of national politics on local, community decisions.

National standards in education are crucial, but that doesn’t change the fact that it is, essentially, a community affair – and that means paying attention to school boards and local elections.


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