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Commentary: Superior Education with Reduced Government Control

Commentary by Keri Ingraham originally published at RealClearEducation.

The corrupting power of government is seldomly discussed in the context of public education.

At the heart of the ongoing hot debate over school choice is the question of how involved government should be in K-12 education. The data is clear that private schools provide a superior education to that of government-run schools. Education scholar James Tooley makes that case in Really Good Schools: Global Lessons for High-Caliber, Low-Cost Education. He argues that “reducing the involvement of government in education can (1) reduce the size of government overall and hence the potential for corruption; and (2) reduce the potential for governments to use education as a means of domination, coercion, oppression, and patronage.”

Corrupt Government Control

The corrupting power of government is an issue too seldomly discussed in the context of public education. The problem is this: A corrupt government will use its control of the education of its future adult citizens for its own political ends at the expense of the best interests of its people. Authoritarian or totalitarian countries come to mind — e.g., the Soviet Union or China. But it can occur in a democracy as well — where government power over schools allows them to control the content of the curriculum and thereby manipulate the beliefs of its future electorate. Tragically, America’s traditional public schools are increasingly moving in this direction — teachers unions are working hand-in-hand with Democrat policymakers to use their unbridled power over schools to push radical agendas in classrooms, grooming children for left-wing loyalties.

At the core of this corruption is the intent to deprive the children of our nation of the education needed to develop critical thinking skills and the ability to evaluate facts and draw their own conclusions. Polarizing political agendas take priority over robust academic instruction. In essence, public schools have replaced teaching students how to think with teaching students what to think. As Tooley explains, “Those with influence and power over education have interests different from ‘the public good.’” Quickly vanishing are the days of civil discourse, balanced intellectual debate, and free speech — and not just at higher education institutions but on K-12 campuses as well.

The corruption especially plays out in how U.S. history is presented. The 1619 Project’s cynical and counter-factual narrative that slavery, rather than freedom, was the central motivating principle of the American Founding is being swiftly implemented in school curriculums. Anti-American ideologies are promoted, teaching children to have contempt for our nation and even its principles of liberty and justice. Based on doctrines of Critical Race Theory, students are labeled and divided into groups as oppressors and oppressed, not based on their actions and attitudes, but chiefly on their skin color. Academic standards are removed in the name of promoting a redefined “equity,” which replaces equal opportunity with demands for equal outcomes. Diversity and inclusion no longer mean respecting individuals and treating people fairly but stripping the rights and protections from the vast majority to cater to the demands for special privileges for select groups.

Education Emancipation

Look at history and even our present-day world, and a prevalent theme is that government control both stifles education and suppresses freedom. The remedy, as Tooley terms it, is education emancipation, with free-market education replacing government control of schools. And this free-market approach returns control to where it belongs — parents.

As our public schools continue to teach radical ideologies while failing to educate over 70% of students with basic academic competencies, the urgency for education emancipation is dire. Private education is education by the people, for the people. We need that now more than ever.

Keri D. Ingraham is a Fellow at Discovery Institute and Director of the Institute’s American Center for Transforming Education. This article is part two of a three-part series. Part Three will propose a path forward through the development of low-cost private schools by education entrepreneurs.

Deneen Borelli

Deneen Borelli is the author of Blacklash: How Obama and the Left are Driving Americans to the Government Plantation. Deneen is a contributor with Newsmax Broadcasting. She is a former Fox News contributor and has appeared regularly on “Hannity,” “Fox & Friends,” “Your World with Neil Cavuto,” and “America’s Newsroom.” She has also appeared on Fox Business Network programs “Making Money with Charles Payne,” “The Evening Edit with Liz MacDonald,” and “Cavuto: Coast to Coast.” Previously, Deneen appeared on MSNBC, CNN, the BBC and C-SPAN. In addition to television, Deneen co-hosted radio programs on the SiriusXM Patriot channel with her husband Tom. Recently, Deneen co-hosted the Reigniting Liberty podcast with Tom. Deneen is a frequent speaker at political events, including the FreedomWorks 9.12.2009 March on D.C. which drew a crowd estimated at over 800,000 people. Deneen is also an Ambassador with, a social media platform that promotes free speech, and with the America First Policy Institute (AFPI) which advances policies that put Americans first. Deneen testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Natural Resources in May 2011 and before the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee in December 2011. Previously, Deneen was a host, Outreach Director with overseeing its outreach program, a Project 21 Senior Fellow, and Manager of Media Relations with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Prior to joining CORE, Deneen worked at Philip Morris USA for 20 years. During her corporate career at Philip Morris she worked in various positions, her last as Project Management Coordinator in the Information Management department where she was responsible for the department’s mandated quality processes, communications, sales information and database management. Deneen began her Philip Morris career as a secretary and advanced to positions of increasing responsibilities. Deneen worked full-time and attended classes at night for 11 years to earn her B.A. in Managerial Marketing from Pace University, New York City. Deneen served on the Board of Trustees with The Opportunity Charter School in Harlem, New York. She appeared in educational videos for children, worked as a runway fashion model, and auditioned for television commercials. Her interests include ancient history, pistol target shooting, photography, and volunteering at her church. Deneen currently resides in Connecticut with her husband Tom.

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