The Outstater

June 10, 2021

“Communism: great idea, wrong species.” — the sociobiologist E.O. Wilson

NOTHING MAKES CONSERVATIVES feel better than knowing they are right — better even than solving the problem.

For instance, how about a biting critique of Critical Race Theory (CRT) and damnation of the pusillanimous who abide it?

You need spend only a few moments thinking about using tax dollars to teach children to hate themselves and their country and you are ready to confront the local school board. Trust me; by comparison, you’re going to feel pretty smart. And if you still have doubts, you can bring a $40,000-per-speech conservative celebrity to town to tell you exactly how smart you are.

But where is this going? Conservatives, or at least Republican politicians, are already catering to CRT outrage by writing laws that command school boards, teachers and students to think properly, to outlaw wrong thinking.

But aren’t we the ones who value the Second Amendment? Do you see how clever the Devil can be?

Consider that there is a storm of Twitter traffic supporting a board member of the New York Times who finds the sight of the American flag “disturbing.” And we are told that it is racist to oppose a popular national change in voting laws that allows mail-in ballots and all that comes with it regarding voter coercion and impersonation.

Wrong thinking? Where is the right thinking?

It is now fashionable to denigrate our electoral integrity, our constitutional foundation, our flag, our culture, our economic system, our national borders, our history and  . . . well, the list keeps getting longer. Who can be surprised that it now includes our traditional school curriculum? 

So it goes. The solution isn’t to demand that other people respect what we hold dear. They may have other ideas. It is time, though, to start separating the one from the other.

Our founders handed us a tool to do just that. It is individual liberty. You give people choices and they live with the consequences — good and bad. The king, the governor, the superintendent has as little as possible to do with it.

In the case of CRT, let’s repeal the State Collective Bargaining Law and allow teachers and principals to reorganize to fit the expectations of parents, not politicians. Each school can fashion its own curriculum (or copy someone else’s). It wouldn’t have to accept the politicized mishmash ordered by a state or district authority.

Hint: The money follows the student wherever the parents might choose to enroll him, her or his/her. The competing designs rise or fall on enrollment numbers. For details, see the special edition of the quarterly journal edited by our adjunct scholar Lisa Snell.* 

Some schools might not change at all, or they might even grow more politically correct. Others, though, might begin teaching the full traditional monty: Serious math, the classic English canon and — if we can allow our fancy to take flight — how exactly the United States became such an exceptional place.

Yes, there are educators who still know about all of that, who think loving their country is normal.

It is not only possible but easy to give parents a choice between a school being run, say, by divisive narcissistic ethnocentric maniacs or one being run by constrained mature educators trying to impart to their students of all races and creeds the skills and awareness necessary to be contributing members of our society.

If we could do that, this all would sort itself out tout suite or p.d.q., whichever you prefer. — tcl

* Lisa Snell. “Decentralizing Our Public Schools.” The Indiana Policy Review, fall 2016; (paywall)


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