Public schools have had a rough few years. Since the start of the pandemic, parents have pulled more than one and a half million kids out of the public education system and turned elsewhere. Anecdotally, Catholic and other private schools in our area have wait-lists miles long now, filled with public school refugees. By some estimates, too, homeschooling rates doubled between spring and fall of 2020, and haven’t dropped significantly since.
We were part of the public-school-to-homeschool exodus in early 2020 — and in our opinion, a lot of the public commentary attempting to explain the phenomenon misses the mark. Most theories focus almost exclusively on Covid lockdowns. There’s certainly a lot there to be angry about. The initial lie from the unions and administrators — that remote, screen-focused “learning” was in any way equivalent to an in-person education — very quickly became untenable. Now, years later, the decline in grades, test scores and mental health show exactly how damaging these policies were. Even when our local schools are in person, they still require kids to wear masks all day, socially distance, quarantine at the remotest chance of contagion and sit outside to eat their lunch in the freezing cold.
For us at least, Covid served to hasten the inevitable. The pandemic made it impossible to deny what we had long suspected: the public education system has been totally corrupted.
During Covid, the rate of middle-school students in our county receiving an “F” in two or more classes tripled. Among high-school students, it rose by 50 percent. But let’s face it: even before the pandemic, our schools weren’t doing a very good job at educating our kids. Years ago, educational theorists decided to abandon teaching content in favor of a sole focus on teaching various vaguely-defined skills. Yet even the teaching of skills hasn’t been successful, as anyone who has read the average eighteen-year-old’s writing can attest. And about two-thirds of students in America are not considered proficient readers, even by today’s standards. The educational establishment’s performance on standardized tests of their own devising has now become so dismal that they’ve begun to scheme up ways to ditch the tests altogether.
Our personal experience with our children’s public schools makes these kind of statistics easy to believe — and it’s hard to fully convey how much better our children have been doing at home. Yet our school district was one of the better rated in the entire country. What the hell is it like for the rest of America?
If the kids can’t even read, what exactly have the schools been teaching them all day? As the last couple of years have also shown, many of them have been focused on indoctrinating their students in woke ideologies that resemble child abuse more than an actual education. They’ve been teaching kids that America is inherently evil and based on racism. They’ve been teaching and encouraging children to change their gender. They’ve been training children to interpret the world in explicitly racist terms, instructing them that the color of their skin divides them eternally into classes of victims and oppressors. They’ve been telling kids that mothers and fathers are unnecessary, and that their parents’ moral authority is doubtful at best.
In our own school system, one mother discovered that her child’s public school was promoting books in their library which contained extremely graphic depictions of children engaging in sexual activity. Some of the excerpts she read were so appalling, the board asked her to stop when she read them aloud at a school board meeting. Some images of the graphic novels can’t be published in news outlets uncensored.
Not all of this has to do with the actual teachers on the front lines, many of whom are devoted public servants (although plenty aren’t). Much of the problem instead has to do with a shift in philosophy that became fashionable many decades ago and filtered down through administrations and school boards, as well as through the laws. The entire system, despite the good intentions of many of those still in it, has been totally destroyed.
We’ve been able to take our kids out of the system, and would encourage anyone who can to follow suit, or to help others do so. But it’s not enough. No American can rest easy when the entire system of public schooling — which we all pay for, and which prepares the next generation of American citizens — has turned into an abusive factory of miserable children who haven’t learned much of anything other than to hate America, their parents and themselves. Put the oxygen mask on your face, and your kids’, but don’t fool yourself — unless we do something, the plane’s still going down.