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The Bottom Line Two Visions for America at Hostile Odds

Public Schools Exploiting Their Responsibility

In an 1858 speech, Abraham Lincoln, quoting from the Bible, famously declared that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Our nation seems poised to test this axiom, as the two radically opposed visions for America vie for ascendancy.

Multiple Battlefronts

National security is one battlefront where partisan politics takes precedence over protecting our borders and population. More than just the debate about a wall or no wall along our southern border, the clash of viewpoints goes to broader questions about law and order and U.S. sovereignty. One side downplays or even turns a blind eye to the explosion of illegal immigrants entering the country unvetted — among them violent criminals, sex traffickers, drug dealers, and COVID carriers. Other Americans are outraged.

Climate and environmental issues also split our country. One side promotes alarm and even panic about global warming and advances animal rights and even the rights of rivers and mountains. In contrast, the other side sees climate concerns as manageable, views humans as the unique recipients of God-given rights, and emphasizes the priority of humans’ securing access to natural and artificial resources.

The role of government is another front in the national divide, with big government advocates pushing for its ever-expanding power and reach, as seen in massive government stimulus spending, huge new child welfare payments, and mandatory COVID injections even for private sector workers, as well as proposals for a $5 trillion spending package, free preschool, free college, and college loan forgiveness. Advocates of a limited role of government eye these developments with alarm — seeing in them a great loss of personal freedom and the expansion of the ability of government to further control and dominate its citizens in the future. 

The historical account of our nation’s founding is another line of conflict. One side fosters the teaching of Critical Race Theory, which sees racism as the fundamental national characteristic that permeates all its social, economic, and political institutions, and the 1619 Project, which views slavery as the central feature of the founding of the United States. The other side, though acknowledging America’s flaws, sees the movement as deeply divisive and destructive, as it pits one race against another and promotes a defeatist viewpoint about minorities (especially blacks) and their ability to succeed through determination and hard work.

Equity, once defined as fair and impartial treatment, is now equated to enforcing equal outcomes. Likewise, social justice has come to mean group entitlement, racial justice is now racial favoritism, and anti-racism involves active rhetoric and discrimination against white people. Those contesting these redefined concepts and their implications are labeled as intolerant and are being silenced in public discourse and social media.

Gay, lesbian, and transgender issues also continue to divide the nation. The redefinition of marriage from one man and one woman to same-sex marriage opened the door to a radical rethinking of a host of other issues related to human sexuality. Increasingly demanded are gender self-selection (even for young children) and access to female bathrooms and locker rooms by biological males who identify as female, as well as being allowed to compete on girl and women sports teams. The other side emphasizes competition fairness, physical safety, and the protection and privacy of biological females.

Finally, the definition and value of life itself is also a battlefront — as one side promotes an unlimited right to terminate the life of an unborn child, while others seek to protect life in the womb. Likewise, one side advances the view that those suffering from severe cognitive disabilities can (and even should) be euthanized, while others see human life as uniquely worthy of dignity and seek to defend those with limited ability to defend themselves.

The School Battlefront

Americans holding the former viewpoints mentioned above are leveraging the power of the federal government to seize new ground using all available options, including pushing a host of executive orders and mandates to unconstitutionally undercut the right of individual state governments and citizens. Their tactics don’t end with public policy. They are strategically pushing their vision for this new unrecognizable America through K-12 public schools. In lockstep with powerful teacher unions, they push their radical agenda by exploiting the massive captive audience of impressionable minds in the U.S. (exceeding 50 million children and teenagers). Simply put, their strategy of promoting a particular political ideology to children over a span of thirteen years is indoctrination, not education — and it amounts to educational malpractice.

Those strategically pushing their vision for this new unrecognizable America through K-12 public schools are exploiting the massive captive audience of impressionable minds — exceeding 50 million children and teenagers.

Keri D. Ingraham

Removing Parental Authority

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the objective of Democrats and teacher unions is to exercise sole authority over children while they’re at school — what they are exposed to and what they are taught. In a rare moment of candor, Virginia Democrat gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe admitted to their agenda in a debate on September 28, stating, “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach.” He further promised he was “not going to let parents come into schools and actually take books out and make their own decision.” McAuliffe’s declaration was consistent with his prior actions. In 2017, he vetoed a bill that would have required parents to be notified when sexually explicit content was assigned to children. It should be no surprise that McAuliffe’s campaign is funded by major teacher unions. For example, the American Federation of Teachers alone recently donated $25,000 to McAuliffe’s gubernatorial bid (their donations to his political endeavors total $175,000 since 2013).

The raw assertion of power is not limited to the state level. President Biden, through U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, recently used the Patriot Act to sic the Department of Justice, including the FBI, on parents who speak up in opposition to the leftist agendas dominating public school policies, practices, and curriculum. This extreme measure came immediately following a request from the National Schools Board Association, which shares the teacher unions’ leftwing agendas. Asra Nomani, Vice President for Strategy and Investigations at Parents Defending Education, was right to post this observation on Twitter: “This is what a domestic terrorist looks like? You are criminalizing parenting, and you owe the people of America a swift apology.”

Who’s Really in Control?

No question, teacher unions run public schools and exploit their role — through massive Democratic party funding — to control the reins of our country’s most powerful leaders. All of this is at the expense of our children, their academic education, and our nation’s future.

Our public education system and government leaders’ rejection of parental involvement and authority will only fan the flames of the hostile division. It’s one thing for adults to experience the views of individuals holding a vision for America at hostile odds to their views. Yet, children being bred in extreme far-left radical ideologies, starting as young as age five, against their parental authority and at the expense of academic education takes the battle to a whole new level.

We cannot sit idle and let public schools take captive the hearts and minds of our children for self-serving future political gain. A growing number of parents nationwide are courageously speaking up against the radical agendas and removing their students from politically indoctrinating schools. We need others to join them with their voices and their votes — electing people into office who will take action to reverse this destructive tide in our nation’s public schools.

Keri D. Ingraham

Senior Fellow and Director, American Center for Transforming Education
Dr. Keri D. Ingraham is a Senior Fellow of Discovery Institute and Director of the Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education. She is also a Senior Fellow at Independent Women’s Forum. Dr. Ingraham has been a guest on Fox News multiple times. Her articles have been published by The Wall Street Journal, New York Post, The Federalist, Real Clear Education, The Washington Times, The Epoch Times, Washington Examiner, National Review, The American Spectator, Daily Caller, The Seattle Times, Puget Sound Business Journal, The Daily Signal, and a host of other media outlets. Fox News has featured her work. Prior to joining Discovery Institute, she spent nearly two decades leading within the field of education as a national consultant, requested conference speaker, head of school, virtual and hybrid academy director, administrator, classroom teacher, and athletic coach. She authored multiple chapters for the book, Sketching a New Conservative Education Agenda, published in 2022. In 2019, she was invited as a contributing author for the book, MindShift: Catalyzing Change in Christian Education and co-authored “From Gutenberg to 5G.” Dr. Ingraham was awarded the George W. Selig Doctoral Fellowship in 2013. The following year she received the “World Changer in the Field of Education” award from Regent University.
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