Earlier this month, Mark Perna, a contributor to Forbes.com, published an article on the looming crisis in American education. Citing a recent study that revealed that 48 percent of teachers had considered quitting their jobs in November, he goes over the long-term impact of the stresses that teachers have suffered over the past two years, ending his essay with a plea to the educational establishment to “heed the warning signs and pivot now to avert the worst of this crisis.”
Perna provides some solid insights into these problems, such as how teachers and schools are overburdened with societal roles that are best left to others. But his argument studiously avoids dealing with the elephant in the room. The crisis he fears has already arrived, and it was caused not by COVID-19 or other external circumstances, but by the educrats’ radical policies and feckless mismanagement. Only by facing this truth can the vicious cycle Perna describes be stopped.
The educational establishment has lost the trust of American families.
The past two decades of American educational policy have produced an environment in which teachers simply cannot flourish. First, there was the “No Child Left Behind” era, in which “teaching to the test” became standard throughout the nation with predictable results. Then came the years-long debacle over Common Core, in which the knowledge and practical experience of teachers were supplanted by curriculum requirements established by politicians and corporate executives, again with predictable results.
More damaging than either of these, however, is the current pedagogical fad of “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion,” in which school administrators spend millions of taxpayer dollars to hire race-baiting activists to lecture teachers about their privilege so that they can do the same with their impressionable students. Under this new model, classic pieces of American literature like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and To Kill a Mockingbird are replaced with more “relevant” (aka “woke”) modern works while the nuanced study of American history is supplanted by the widely discredited “1619 Project.”
Given this trajectory, it is no wonder that Perna predicts that young people will refuse to become teachers. Who but the most fanatical of progressive ideologues would actually want to engage with young minds in such a mentally sterile situation?
When he shifts to how to start solving the problems of American education, Perna points out the lack of trust between administrators and instructors. This may be true, but he again ignores a far more critical issue: how the educational establishment has lost the trust of American families.
During the 2020 lockdowns, remote learning pulled back the curtain on just what students were being taught in the classroom. When parents voiced their concerns, school boards treated them with disdain and eventually called upon Washington (apparently at the instigation of Education Secretary Miguel Cardona) to label them as “domestic terrorists.” Teachers unions in particular have targeted families, as shown by the American Federation of Teachers’ ongoing efforts to blackmail communities into imposing useless mask mandates in schools and, more recently, how the Chicago Teachers Union forced over 300,000 students back into remote learning over scientifically baseless fears of the Omicron variant. (READ MORE: Has Secretary Cardona Declared an Unwinnable War on American Parents?)
The educational establishment is now reaping the whirlwind that it has spent decades sowing. Faced with a clear and present danger to their children, newly engaged parents now crowd into school board meetings to hold districts accountable despite threats of police action. Education reform is now a pivotal political question, as the surprise victory of Glenn Youngkin in Virginia clearly shows.
Most notably, families are voting with their feet; homeschooling has enjoyed a massive boom in these times of institutional uncertainty. Meanwhile, support for school choice is on the rise, and there are renewed calls to allow education funding to follow the student, whether he is in public school, private school, or homeschooled. As Perna noted in his conclusion, “the genie’s out of the bottle. There’s no going back.”
Perna’s argument centers around teachers needing a “human connection” to weather the storms that are rocking American education. But such connections cannot survive in the toxic environment created by the educational establishment’s policies. If teachers want to uphold the honor of their vocation, they will have to join their voices with those of the parents who are already demanding reforms. What’s more, they must be willing to embrace those reforms for both the benefit of their students and their own advantage. Otherwise, teachers will continue to be collateral damage in the war that the educrats are cynically waging in their name.