The Bottom Line Constraints on Educational Freedom Have Dems Fleeing the PartyOriginally published at The American Spectator
White suburban women, who comprise roughly 20% of the electorate, have swung right. According to polls by the Wall Street Journal, there has been a 26-percentage point shift toward the Republican Party among this demographic since August. Concerns about skyrocketing costs and crime have been top of mind for these women, and for the moms and grandmothers of this population segment, education has been a key driver of their party affiliation change.
After witnessing firsthand the devastation that the teachers unions and allied Democratic Party inflicted on their children and grandchildren by keeping government schools closed — long after it was deemed safe to return to campus, as private schools proved — these women voters have had enough of failed Democratic leadership.
Watching their children held as hostages and denied their due education in order that irrelevant political demands could be met crossed the line. Often referred to as “mama bears,” it was pure foolishness to mess with these women’s children. As the mass public school exodus continues and voters flee from the donkey party, Democratic leaders will long reap the consequences of wielding power at the expense of other people’s children.
During the remote school sessions, parents witnessed firsthand the lack of quality instruction. Furthermore, they were exposed to and outraged by the political agendas dominating valuable learning time at the expense of foundational academic instruction. Watching their children disengaged by limited and low-quality remote school sessions and deprived of the opportunity to receive the education their tax dollars funded, parents were enlightened and became engaged at a new level. Those with the financial resources to fund alternative learning avenues or with a schedule that allowed for homeschooling pulled their students out.
Public school enrollment has taken a historic downturn. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, public school enrollment declined by 3% between the fall of 2019 and the fall of 2020. A Tyton Partners survey “shows that between spring 2021 and spring 2022, there was a 9% drop in families saying their children are enrolled in traditional public schools — a plunge that translates into over 4 million students.” According to U.S. News & World Report, earlier this year, districts that stayed closed the longest lost a significantly higher percentage of students than districts that reopened more quickly.
Of families who have left public schools over the past three school years, the consistent trend is that they are not coming back. The benefits of alternative educational avenues, such as private schools, homeschooling, microschools, learning pods, and virtual schools, are a far cry from the union-driven, adult-focused, ineffective system they previously blindly accepted.
Without question, union leaders overplayed their hand in their massive power grab. Fewer students enrolled weakens their control and ultimately will lessen their funding when schools must downsize staff who are union dues-paying members. As more families exit government schools, the unions’ chokehold will be weakened.
Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, the country’s second-largest teachers union, employed her power to directly influence the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s February 2021 school reopening guidelines. While Weingarten thought she was leveraging the American Federation of Teachers’ nearly $20 million in donations to Biden and other Democratic candidates during the 2020 election cycle, she was instead exposing her self-serving agenda with undeniable clarity for parents nationwide.
Weingarten won’t be able to undo the damage done for her sake or that of the Democratic Party, many of whose policymakers will soon get unseated in the midterm elections. White suburban women are joined by Hispanic voters and others who have experienced enough of the Democrats’ and teachers unions’ tactics that harm their children.
Furthermore, voters have witnessed Democratic governors unabashedly veto school choice bills with celebratory gusto. Regardless of the political party they previously aligned with, parents are outraged as this comes on the heels of three years of on-and-off school lockdowns, which robbed their children of the promise of education.
It’s not surprising that the red wave is upon us. Parents want not only costs and crime under control but educational freedom for their families.