Saturday, July 09, 2022

Destructive Agenda

Doug Mastriano, the Republican nominee for governor of Pennsylvania, wants to decertify electors to restore Donald Trump to the White House, ban abortion completely, and establish Pennsylvania as "a Second Amendment sanctuary for unrestricted firearms ownership. Also

“I think instead of 19,000 [dollars], we fund each student around 9,000 or 10,000 and they can decide which school to go to, public school, private school, religious school, cyber school, or home school,” Mastriano said. “And the money goes to the kids. And I believe that would incentivize and drive down the costs of public education."

The driver of Mastriano’s scheme would be his push to eliminate, or at least radically reduce, the biggest source of school dollars in Pennsylvania: the property tax. He just wouldn’t replace this proposed massive loss of tax dollars. And the downsized government spending that still existed would be available to families in vouchers they could use to attend nonpublic schools, including religious schools or homeschooling — two pillars of Mastriano’s Christian nationalist movement....

According to a 2022 ranking by World Population Review, spending $9,000 per pupil would put Pennsylvania on a par with Mississippi ($8,935), a state that’s often criticized for the poor quality of its public education.....

Donna Cooper, executive director of the Children First schools advocacy group, says Mastriano’s plans are wildly out of touch with the realities of K-12 education in the state, including that even religious schools in the state’s more prosperous regions cost more than the $9,000 a year he’d give families. Added Cooper: “One of the reasons he’s advancing these proposals is his concern that teachers are paid too much. But we have an average teacher salary that is $70,000 — and Pennsylvania is facing a massive teacher shortage.”

Well, maybe that's Mastriano's point, wisely left unstated.  Fewer teachers yield more students per teacher and less discipline and learning.

On July 7, Fox News' Laura Ingraham hosted The John Locke Foundation's Terry Scoops, who blasted the National Education Association for supporting abortion choice and LGBQIA+ rights and claimed the union was promoting an "insane agenda." Then

Ingraham jumped in, calling for an end to public schools, and saying taxpayer funds should be diverted to private education....

“But what it’s not about is education and this is why I think, Terry, a lot of people are saying it’s time to defund government education or at least defund it by giving vouchers to parents so they can say, ‘No, we’re not doing this anymore.’ And I think that just has to happen. We have to stop funding this madness.”

This is nothing new. Thirteen months ago, Joy Ann-Reid interviewed Christopher Rufo, perhaps America's chief critic of what he calls "Critical Race Theory." It was interesting and informative, though the latter not because of the conflict over whether CRT is taught anywhere in law schools nor about its benefit or harm.

Rufo claims- probably truthfully- to have investigated the increasing interest in public schools of the study of the role of race in American culture past and present. Yet early in the video below, he can be seen citing Robin D'Angelo and Ibram X. Kendi as critical race theorists.

As Reid pointed out, neither D'Angelo nor Kendi is a critical race theorist. Kendi is arguably the most prominent advocate of "anti-racism," with D'Angelo's focus a melding of anti-racism and "whiteness" theory. They probably both are pleased critical race theory is taught in law schools and welcome (or would welcome) its presence in K-12 schools. However, neither is particularly a promoter of CRT, which they have left for others, such as Kimberle Crenshaw

The (inaccurate) selection Kendi and D'Angelo as representatives of critical race theory may be significant. It may have been because they are the best known, and thus most controversial, of the proponents of the broad field of race-conscious education.

More likely, though, Rufo threw out those two names because he doesn't care who comprise the intellectual core of this broad discipline. Ending this particular educational philosophy is not his goal.  A few days after the victory of Republican Glenn Youngkin in the Virginia gubernatorial race, Michelle Goldberg had a discussion with Rufo in which

“I’ve unlocked a new terrain in the culture war, and demonstrated a successful strategy,” said Rufo, a documentary filmmaker-turned-conservative activist. With that done, he was getting ready for a new phase of his offensive.

“We are right now preparing a strategy of laying siege to the institutions,” he said. In practice, this means promoting the traditional Republican school choice agenda: private school vouchers, charter schools and home-schooling. “The public schools are waging war against American children and American families,” he said. Families, in turn, should have “a fundamental right to exit.”

Private school vouchers, charter schools, and home schooling. Now the partisan Supreme Court of John Roberts clearly is on board. That was unsurprising because destruction of the public school system and the common good is part of the GOP's overarching goal of privatization of the entire economy for the benefit of the privileged.  Democrats and progressives need to understand this and to take it seriously, but aside from a journalist here and they, they apparently are doing neither.


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