The rise of the parent as a primary power in American politics has been stunning over the past year. In Virginia, Glenn Youngkin surged into the governor’s mansion in no small part owing to his battle against critical race theory in the schools. In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis signed a sweeping and popular bill to protect young kids from trans ideology in the classroom.
Both of these politicians, and many more Republicans, have been buoyed by the anger and frustration of parents who, to borrow an old phrase from the lefties, are chanting, “Whose kids? Our kids.” But if this is proving to be a boon to the GOP it is an absolute morass for the Democrat Party which can’t even decide its actual positions on education.
FILE PHOTO: Tristan Thorgersen puts pro-Youngkin signs up as people gather to protest different issues including the board’s handling of a sexual assault that happened in a school bathroom in May, vaccine mandates and critical race theory during a Loudoun County School Board meeting in Ashburn, Virginia, U.S., October 26, 2021. Picture taken October 26, 2021. REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo
(REUTERS/Leah Millis/File Photo)
Take White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Asked recently about Florida’s parental rights bill, which her boss Joe Biden not only disagrees with but calls hateful and bigoted, Psaki expressed disdain for DeSantis’s measure, and added this: “I also think that these are not, there is not a big record of there being either sex education or extensive gender identity education in these schools,” adding that it’s an issue “I don’t think exists.”
If this sounds familiar, it should. It is the exact same lie that Democrats use to avoid even discussing the role that critical race theory clearly plays in our public schools. They blithely insist that CRT is only taught in law school, eliding the fact that it is absolutely also taught in teacher education. CRT is not so much a school subject, but a pedagogy, a worldview. That is what American parents are objecting to.
During the pandemic lockdowns parents got a laptop window into their children’s education, and many didn’t care much for what they saw. Just as we see in the controversial and viral videos from the Libs of Tik Tok Twitter account, these parents saw teachers more interested in creating good little activists than in helping kids read and count.
But even worse, that activism – whether in support of a galaxy of genders or the Marxist musings of Black Lives Matter – contains a value system that many, many parents do not share. This brings us squarely back to the question of whose kids are they? Too many educators see their views on race and gender not as a competing value system, but as a sacred a priori truth that justifies defying allegedly bigoted parents.
This leaves parents with two options, a Republican Party that reacts to their concerns, even perhaps with too much overreach, or a Democrat Party that just has its head in the sand. But Democrats need to understand that this issue is not going away, and telling Americans that CRT and trans ideology in the schools is great, and also it doesn’t exist, is not going to cut it.
Hillary Clinton famously said in the 1990s that it takes a village to raise a child. Today that maxim is being tested in very real ways. Everyone wants teachers to care for and about their students, but not everybody wants those teachers to mold the minds of kids into mirrors of their progressive ideologies. On the most basic, and deepest questions many parents still want to have the final say.
The year of the parent may well usher in Republican majorities in Congress come November, but this issue is far bigger than politics. Parents want a hand on the steering wheel of their kids’ lives and education – they don’t want self-driving children guided by left wing shibboleths. So far, they seem to be winning the cultural battle to take back control, and that shows no signs of stopping.
David Marcus is a columnist living in New York City and the author of “Charade: The COVID Lies That Crushed A Nation.”