In this election cycle, there’s much to be learned by what you hear — and also what you don’t hear. One of the key planks I heard resonating from the progressive socialist left during their primary was free college education. Along with that, I hear very little about education choice — charter schools, school vouchers, home schooling — from the same leftists. How often have we heard anyone from the new American socialist party speak of College 529 savings plans? Oops, sorry, it was during a State of the Union address that President Barack Obama sought to tax these tax-free savings plans in order to fund his dream of free community college.
I began to ask myself, where have I heard this rhetoric before about state control of education and making it free?
Well, it didn’t take long to find that answer. It’s plank #10 of Karl Marx’s The Communist Manifesto:
- Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
I graduated from a Henry Grady High School in Atlanta, Georgia, a public school. However, for grades 1-9, I attended private Catholic schools that provided me a clear advantage when I transferred my sophomore year. The problem today is that our system of education and institutions are no longer about educating and developing critical thinking skills. These have become factories of scripted memorization for standardized testing. We’re not developing productive skills in every child, but rather implementing failing policies directed by federal government standards from on high.
In the late 1970s, the federal government under the Carter administration once had a Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW). The Carter administration, in a grand expansion of government, created three separate entities: Health and Human Services; Education; and Housing and Urban Development.
Now consider, as we’ve created, expanded and heavily funded the entity called the Department of Education, what has happened with the quality and standards of education in America?
Americans are being taxed to support what we call public schools, but are actually “government forced-tax-funded schools.” Even private schools are government regulated. We have the federal government through the Department of Education, influential teachers unions such as the National Educators Association (NEA) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), who along with the progressive socialists advance a concept of “Outcomes Based Education.” These entities are leveraged with the goal being all children indoctrinated and inculcated with the ideological propaganda such as “pay your fair share” and revisionist history. Where are the words “fair share” in the Constitution, Bill of Rights or the Internal Revenue Code (Title 26)? Of course, they are not to be found. However, where do we find collectivist economic ideals like, “an economy that works for all”? These philosophical concepts of “fair share” and “economic equality” come from the Communist maxim, “From each according to their ability, to each according to their need.” This concept is pure socialism, Marxism — and it was Vladimir Lenin who stated, “the objective of socialism is communism.”
It’s critical that reform of our American education system becomes a fundamental issue in this current presidential election cycle. As I’ve said before, “education is the great equalizer; with a good quality education anyone can achieve their dreams…the American dream.” But one of the problems we face is that we’re losing the culture war for education in America. I often ask this question: what is the most important elected position in America? I get many answers, but on occasion, there will be one who shouts out the correct answer: school board. Education is a state and local issue, which is why we have school boards. Yet, the election with the lowest voter turnout and attention is always school board. And in the major population centers, the liberal progressive left always seeks to control school boards — therefore controlling what’s being taught, or rather indoctrinated, to our children.
Consider this: the first black president, Barack Obama, cancelled the Washington, D.C. school voucher program — meanwhile, his kids attend the prestigious Sidwell Friends School. The avowed socialist, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, made very clear his war against charter schools in the city — while one of the highest performing schools in his city is Success Academy, a charter school in Harlem. And the first black attorney general, Eric Holder, brought a lawsuit against the State of Louisiana and its school voucher program — have you paid attention to the literacy rate in the Bayou State? The left abhors home schooling, and it just amazes me that the left only embraces choice when it comes to killing children, babies, not when it comes to educating them.
The question has to be, why is it that the liberal progressive left fights against any education option or choice that is contrary to state-controlled public schools?
And it’s not just K-12 where the battle wages. The left deems which institutions of higher education are approved. Of course, it comes down to those schools that advance their dogma, certainly not any instruction on constitutionally-based or free market education entities. In my time since retirement, I’ve had the pleasure and honor of being involved with three different types of schools — Hillsdale College, Keiser University and Northwood University. I’ve often had interesting conversations about the challenges these institutions face because the curriculum and focus is not about the revisionist vision, nor Marxist concepts, which are antithetical to our Constitutional Republic and its successful free market economic system. And the leftists have been very covert, sometimes overt, in their manner of interference and persecution by way of using government agencies and media, along with leftist funded groups, to wage attacks against institutions not conforming to Marx’s dream of plank #10.
Consider that in Obamacare, Barack Obama nationalized college student loans, and the nationalizing of production under government purview is a fundamental construct of a socialist economic model. What do college student loans have to do with healthcare in America? Nothing, just as Obamacare and its twenty new taxes, such as increased capital gains, dividends, tanning, and individual mandate have not a thing to do with healthcare. It’s all about control, and that’s the objective of the leftists when it comes to education in America.
So, what’s the solution? First, ensure we don’t have another progressive socialist in the White House.
Second, focus on winning back local school boards and overturn insidious top-down, government-driven education standards, such as Common Core.
Third, support education choice in order to preclude any parent from being forced to subject their children to failing public schools. Competition is a good thing in our education system; former Reagan economic advisor Art Laffer has written about the topic.
Fourth, reduce the scope and influence of the Department of Education — OK, eliminate it. Sure, we can have an office that ensures every child in America has equal access to quality education, but get this back down to the State level. And we must end the connection of federal dollars to government edicts on education.
Fifth, instead of standardized tests, develop evaluation systems that produce critical thinking skills and productivity, realizing not every child HAS to attend college — but needs to be productive. We need to make education relevant, and with private/public partnerships, we can train the next generation to enter the local workforce. Look, ain’t nothing wrong with being a plumber or welder — and we need to restore apprenticeships.
Lastly, we need to ensure our colleges and universities are not petri dishes for collective indoctrination, but rather places of free conscience and thought sharing. Also, explain to me how Sen. Elizabeth Warren got a six-figure salary for teaching one course at a university. And what about Bernie Sanders’ wife bankrupting a college, as we shared with you. We must expose the instances where the government is using agencies to pressure and intimidate colleges and universities that do not play the left’s game. Get college student loans out of the hands of the federal government as a monopoly, and institute accountability with these loans.
If we don’t reform our education system, it’s just a matter of time. It is, as Chaiman Mao articulated, the long slow march — and slowly, we are witnessing an assault by the progressive socialist left on our education system in their effort to control the mind. Soon, the day may come when no child remembers what are the three branches of government.