Conservatives have seen very few political victories at the national level in the past generation. The partial exception can be the K-12 training – although even success there really represents a withdrawal from spaces that no longer belong to them. Charter schools, classic schools, educational savings accounts, and home tuition grow and thrive in most cases. I have had the pleasure of interacting with many homeschoolers and classical students and have generally found them more interesting, curious, developed, and capable than young people in public schools and even those enrolled in conventionally high-level elite private schools.
Mr. Smarick’s thesis is that the current distribution of power for the K-12 policymaking we have encountered is likely good – and certainly better than it has been for the past 40 years. Federal, state, district authorities and parents operate more or less in their own field and have roughly the power that should belong to everyone. The “most important work of the next decade … is to give these different centers of power the opportunity to solve the problems in their respective areas.” Perhaps that is correct. But to want this admittedly random distribution of power to continue is nostalgic, because it belongs to a country that no longer exists. Maintaining boundaries and spheres of autonomy is exactly what the left has tried (successfully) to overcome in almost every element of American life.
The two main moral tenets that enliven today’s left – anti-racism and sexual liberation – have become the object of fanatical veneration in the country’s most powerful and wealthy institutions: the press, the Fortune 500, universities, federal bureaucracy, and big tech. It is true that there are citizens who disagree, but have little institutional support and often do not feel they have the moral authority to oppose them. No room is safe from the doctrinal imperialism of the left: every effort is made to weaken, humiliate or destroy resistant institutions. Christian schools, classical schools, and home education are next in the crosshairs.
It is worth recalling that Obergefell v Hodges (2015) decision to introduce transgender bathrooms in some public schools took less than a year. Six years later, thanks to the Bostock decision (2020), transgenderism is promoted and protected in employment by almost every major intellectual and medical institution in the country, as well as civil rights law. While it is not clear, for legal reasons, how the Bostock decision applies to schools (and Christian schools in particular), the constellation of activists, bureaucrats and judges is likely to find a way out. And the law will likely help them succeed through moral surrender. Some schools will surrender preventively, while those who take a stand will be attacked, de-legitimized, and desplatformed until they are ruined.
Leave aside for a moment that over the past year, approximately 4,500 classrooms in private and public schools in all 50 states used the 1619 New York Times curriculum. That summer, the nation watched rioters from Black Lives Matter (along with Antifa) burn many American cities after George Floyd was murdered for his race. During this period, companies, private foundations, and individuals donated approximately $ 10 billion for BLM or BLM-approved purposes. The schools immediately implemented the relevant curriculum. The reforms called for by the BLM have been passed by state legislators and local councilors (here, here, and here). Almost nobody resisted these events. In fact, in a rush they have vehemently pushed others out of the way to show support, even institutions that claim to be conservative.
On the one hand, the left, speaking to the authority of civil rights, will be among the most sacred principles of the nation; The other side will cite parental rights and freedom of religion. The dynamism and institutional power clearly speaks in favor of the former.
These are the quick, amazing victories that the left can achieve and that are so successful that the mainstream can no longer reject them. Still, Mr. Smarick pleads with the Biden government: They should “submit to families, civil society bodies, local leaders and state governments” in K-12 education. To this the left could answer: “No place should be safe for your white, undeserved privilege, your bigotry, your fascism. Purifying them is a moral imperative, the core of our identity. “
The left, Smarick adds, should “recognize the limits of the centralization of authority”. However, this was one of the main tools for the left’s power and success. If it were within boundaries, it wouldn’t be what it is. Such requests are exactly what the left in an opposition party would prefer.
Mr Smarick wants both anti-discrimination law and local and parental autonomy, although it is by no means clear that the two can coexist. He knows the Biden government will attempt to use civil rights laws to enforce transgenderism, to use just one example in all areas previously untouched by it. How will these schools defend themselves in the public square when the civil rights bureaucracy demands that these emerging schools (charter, religion, classical) accept full sexual liberation and anti-racism ideology? On the one hand, the left, speaking to the authority of civil rights, will be among the most sacred principles of the nation; The other side will cite parental rights and freedom of religion. The dynamism and institutional power clearly speaks in favor of the former.
The first has the support of the administrative state, the courts, the professionalized activist class and much of the public opinion. In fact, they are likely to use the IRS to revoke the nonprofit status of classical, charter, or religious schools for what it calls discrimination. Accreditors will have similar requirements. We should remember that cities and states also have powerful civil rights bureaucracies.
On the contrary, the rights of parents are almost nowhere recognized in America. Traditional views of sexuality and gender roles are ridiculed, ridiculed, and deliberately undermined in public “culture”, sometimes even in preschools. Activists are already successfully curtailing parental rights by preventing parents from preventing their young children from changing their gender. The aim of this somewhat calm revolution is to introduce new gods against the gods of the father and the mother, like Pheidippides, who beats his father Strepsiades in Aristophanes’ clouds.
Civil rights laws, vitriolic activists, executive orders, withholding funds from the disobedient, and attacks on legislation are all used to destroy what conservatives have built in the K-12 areas over the past few decades. What looks like the beginning of a golden age can be a slip on your radar.
I agree with Mr Smarick that states are the future. In the next four years and in the future, states could become a barricade, a front of resistance. Conservative money must flow into red states; Conservative networks and organizations have to be built, and of course many conservatives have to leave the blue states and start their lives over. However, this must lead to the gathering of enough courage and moral authority to say “no”. You have to be willing to denounce false doctrines like “anti-racism”; You have to say: you will not teach our children to despise us, our faith, our country. Most importantly, for the new K-12 developments in state, local, and parental control to continue, it requires parents with male self-confidence, as well as a political movement and state politicians to lead and protect them. Most likely, and as is their custom, conservative leaders will morally capitulate while portraying themselves as reasonable moderates.