Earlier this month, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis won yet another small victory in his quest to reform education in the Sunshine State. The leader who put parental rights at the center of his policy agenda and said, “Florida is where woke goes to die,” has put the educational establishment on notice that business as usual just isn’t going to cut it anymore.
After state education officials rejected the curriculum for the new Advanced Placement course in African American Studies on the basis of its blatant political agenda, the College Board issued revisions and made several units optional, including those highlighting “black queer theory,” modern calls for reparations, and “Black Lives Matter.” The College Board tried to spin the changes, claiming, “No states or districts have seen the official framework that is released, much less provided feedback on it. This course has been shaped only by the input of experts and long-standing AP principles and practices.”
Of course, this official statement didn’t stop the mainstream media from attacking both DeSantis and the College Board. Leading the pack was MSNBC’s race-baiter-in-chief, Joy Reid, who pondered whether or not the governor “would consider fascist Italy to have been a bad guy in [World War II]” before saying, “I’m not saying Ron DeSantis is racist, but to quote Andrew Gillum, I think the racists might think he’s racist.” Over at Vanity Fair, politics correspondent Bess Levin accused DeSantis of “bullying” the College Board into “tailoring” the course “to the needs of fragile white people.” Meanwhile, the New York Times published such a scathing rebuke that the College Board felt compelled to call it “a gross misrepresentation of the content of the course and the process by which it was developed.”
Even California Gov. Gavin Newsom, eager to burnish his leftist credentials in preparation for 2024, weighed in, tweeting that College Board CEO David Coleman was a “puppet” of his potential opponent.
And yet David Coleman, the head of the @CollegeBoard, says “we can’t look to statements of political leaders.”
I call bullshit — you are merely a puppet of Ron DeSantis. pic.twitter.com/jMQQRcHzw0
— Gavin Newsom (@GavinNewsom) February 1, 2023
Other than DeSantis himself, the only clear winners in this hullabaloo are the parents who are challenging the educrats’ virtual monopoly over American education. For over two years now, the educational establishment has been struggling to suppress the long-simmering revolution that finally broke out during the pandemic. To date, its tactics have ranged from changing speaking rules at school board meetings to actively ignoring the massive learning losses created by its policies to accusing its critics of domestic terrorism.
What the educrats have not done, however, is recognize that their current stance is radically out of step with what Americans expect from them. A multi-year study published last month by Populace, a Massachusetts-based think tank, reveals the extent of this disconnect. By using “a choice-based conjoint (CBC) instrument that distinguishes between personal priorities and perceived societal priorities,” this study reveals exactly what the participants actually want out of the American educational system out of a list of 57 options.
The most critical split is in the idea that “Students are prepared to enroll in a college or university.” According to the study, people ranked this goal at No. 47 in 2022, a massive drop from No. 12 in the previous year. What’s more, the data places the perceived societal importance of college (as opposed to its actual importance to the participants) at No. 3. If nothing else, this study reveals that the “college for all” approach touted by the establishment is at best woefully misguided and at worst a deliberate effort to manipulate the public.
The educrats’ continued emphasis on social justice fares badly as well. The goals of inspiring students “to improve the well-being of their community” and “to give back to the community” landed at No. 38 and No. 41, respectively. “Students can effect change where they see a need” ranked even lower at No. 44. This is not to say that the participants do not see these points as generally important; they simply don’t see them as the proper focus of the education system.
What of the need for socialization, the establishment’s go-to argument against homeschooling? Developing friendships and learning “social norms and appropriate behavior” are near the bottom of the list at No. 50 and No. 52. Apparently, the educrats’ recent championing of remote learning, social distancing, and mask mandates have revealed their concern for proper socialization to be the farce it always was.
So what people want for their children’s education is not what the establishment has been prioritizing for years on end. As the creator of both AP courses and the dreaded SAT (which has suffered from accusations of political bias as well), the College Board has long served as a gatekeeper in the high school-to-college pipeline. As college enrollment declines, perhaps its revisions to this course are part of an effort to soften its reputation for wokeness and thus remain relevant in American culture. If so, it’s a welcome change for students and parents who are clearly weary of indoctrination masquerading as education.
Of course, this war is far from over. School board members still openly preach that “whiteness is evil” on social media while the heads of teachers unions call for “COVID amnesty” to avoid being held accountable for their choices. The only mention of education in President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address was a tired call to give even more taxpayer money to public school teachers and a tepid promotion of his unconstitutional student loan bailout program, neither of which address Americans’ profound loss of trust in the educational establishment.
DeSantis’s victory over the College Board may seem small, but it comes at a time when the tide is turning against the educrats. Support for school choice remains incredibly high, even among Democrats, and recent initiatives to have at least some tax money follow the student have succeeded in Arizona, Iowa, and Utah. Other states are looking to extend these successes in various ways this year. Also, thanks to the recent subpoenas issued by the House Judiciary Committee, we may finally get some straight answers about the Biden administration’s involvement with the National School Boards Association debacle.
When the British army defeated the Germans in the North African desert in 1942, Winston Churchill said, “This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” The same might be said about parents’ efforts to rein in the educrats and remind them of who they really serve. As public opinion continues to swing in favor of true education reform, let us hope the rest of the educational establishment starts to show even the small level of sense that the College Board has.
READ MORE by Robert Busek:
At This Point, School Mask Mandates Are a Cynical Power Play
The Crisis in America’s Education Establishment Is Self-Induced