Conservatives can Make Education a Winning Issue

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Prompted by the folly of Terry McAuliffe during the Virginia gubernatorial election saying that “I don’t think parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” education has become a prominent issue for parents throughout the country. From critical race theory to radical gender ideology, schools have become the target for both Republicans and Democrats alike.

To understand the effect the education debate can have on voters, one must look no further than the outcome of the 2020 and 2021 elections in Virginia and New Jersey. In Virginia, the main battleground for the education debate, there was a twelve-point swing between the presidential election and the gubernatorial counterpart. Likewise in New Jersey, there was a six-point swing between elections. Although some of this shift can be blamed on the fact that the president’s party often performs poorly in the midterms, the turnout and political shift of suburban parents were uncanny as the Democratic message failed to appeal to voters.

However, ever since the election, coverage of education related-issues has fallen greatly. Specifically, when it comes to Fox News covering critical race theory, the station’s coverage peaked for the year one day after the election. Thereafter, the coverage of the issue plummeted to virtually nothing by mid-November. Yet, just because the election is over does not mean that the issue has magically disappeared. In reality, this is just the beginning of the battle over critical race theory in the classroom. 

On November 16th, a whistleblower exposed the FBI’s procedure to comply with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s instructions issued on October 4th directing federal agents to develop a strategy to track mistreatment and threats directed towards school officials, educators, and other personnel. Thus, parents who attend a school board meeting, write a letter to superintendents, or send an email to their child’s instructor may now be labeled as a potential danger in the FBI’s registry if their words or efforts are perceived as dangerous, hassling, or threatening — even when no federal violations were committed. Moreover, these leaked papers appear to contradict Attorney General Garland’s testimony to Congress on October 21st that the Department of Justice and its divisions were not utilizing counterterrorism measures to attack “concerned parents at school board meetings.”

With parents being the subject of FBI surveillance by merely questioning a school’s practices, this creates a dangerous precedent as the Biden administration stifles discourse between parents and educators as parents pull their children out of public schools in droves. Thus, conservatives must push school choice policy so that all families are able to send their children to an appropriate school that suffices the needs of students while also holding underperforming schools accountable for their lackluster results. 

Such policy is widely popular in America and could result in many conservative Democrats voting with Republicans as, in 2020, eighty-one percent of Democratic primary voters and eighty-nine percent of black Democratic primary voters were in favor of a school voucher system. Moreover, during the pandemic, support for school choice increased by ten points among public school families.

Put simply, parents are displeased at the quality of public schools their children attend. Due to the COVID-19 shutdowns, parents saw firsthand what their children were learning, such as the ideas of critical race theory, and there was a corresponding exodus of students to private schools and homeschooling in the subsequent school year. As such, conservatives have a golden opportunity lying in front of them to curb the Orwellian practices of public schools by giving parents the choice of where to send their children for their education. 

Daniel Elmore
Daniel Elmore is the Data & Analytics Coordinator at the Chalkboard Review.