The American public education system is crumbling. Teachers are leaving, enrollment is declining, and children are struggling. Public education bureaucrats have overstepped their role, and as a result, education has become a chief concern for voters across the nation.
Recent elections have clearly demonstrated that public schools in the United States are failing children and that the public educational system needs fundamental change. Take, for instance, the 2021 Virginia elections, where voters elected Glenn Youngkin, Winsome Sears, and Jason Miyares to the top jobs in state government. During the campaign, Youngkin vowed to “restore excellence and common sense in education.” Sears and Miyares won on a similar platform.
If these unexpected Virginia election results don’t clearly demonstrate that issues with public education supersede partisan rhetoric, take a look at San Francisco, where voters recalled three San Francisco school board members, each by a close to 70% margin or more. Even San Francisco’s Mayor had to admit that “We failed our children.” On a more micro level, we hear stories of parents like Bernita NeeNee Bradley, a mother in Detroit who has created homeschool co-ops to serve black families, thus enabling parents to retake control of their children’s education.
Parents across the country are reclaiming parental rights in education and reinforcing the idea that parents should serve as the highest authority in their children’s lives. Many parts of America’s broken education system require fundamental change. While education is legally required in every state, it cannot thrive without strong communities built upon committed parents.
In 1972, the Supreme Court established a distinct line between education and parenting in Wisconsin v. Yoder, holding that religious values guaranteed parents’ authority over their children’s lives. Rather than superseding parental rights, a state-run educational system should form a symbiotic relationship between a parent and their child’s education. Parents must exercise their responsibility to raise moral children while trusting that schools fulfill their role to educate.
But parents across the country are losing their inherent right to oversee their children’s education. Schools are increasingly obsessing themselves around social controversies, teachers’ unions, and political agendas. A child’s education has become a byproduct of political controversies and agendas, including COVID-19 policies and fringe teachings. Public school bureaucrats have stolen public schools from parents and neglected children as they focus on politics, blurring the line between education and parenting. As bureaucrats remove gifted programs, teach increasingly subjective and controversial history, and fail to make parents aware of curricular changes, they reveal that the education system has surely overstepped its role.
As a result, it’s no wonder why test scores are declining and elections from Virginia to San Francisco are being decided on educational issues. Schools have stolen the role of parents and failed their students. The great American society, which so greatly cherishes its educational system, has neglected its own children. In an increasingly polarizing society, we must hold that parents know what is best for their children, not the state.
It is time to reinvigorate public schools with academic excellence, sound teaching, well-compensated teachers, and, most of all, a student-focused approach. Parents’ anger as displayed in recent elections highlights how schools are robbing parents of their inherent rights while promoting controversial worldviews. The inherent rights reserved to parents cannot be infringed upon by public schools, for the role of our public educational system is solely to educate our children. School bureaucrats have overstepped their role and neglected the children; they have stolen education for political purposes. We must return our public schools, and thus the education of future generations of Americans, to parents.