State Schools

Corruption Non-Profit

Detroit       In the United States, one thing that has always seemed sacrosanct has been local public schools.  That is not to say that elected school boards have not been political, but is to say there has rarely been any fundamental question about whether or not public schools were governed and run locally.   Parochial schools were imbued with religious teaching and were private, which distinguished them from public schools.  Schools controlled by the state were something foreign to a democracy and local government.  State schools were propaganda factories for the commies and their like.  These days in the US, we have to rethink this whole proposition of local schools and local democracy, because there is clearly conservative project to make local schools mini-me state schools.

We could tell this was coming in the foundation-funded and conservative promotion of charter schools.  Unable to convince local school boards in Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and elsewhere, the state took over the schools through one device or another, deposing the elected board members, changing the administrative leadership, and usually establishing charter schools.  These charters were nonprofits with separate, unelected governance.  In places, like New Orleans, gradually over a decade or more, the elected school board has been able to assert some governance, but it is a dance with the nonprofit boards to affect policy.   The fight continues on all sides on whether the educational results are better or worse via charters compared to regular public schools, with experts weighing in with contending data.

Although that part of the evolution of state schools may be still contentious, the conservative program for state schools in serious and gaining traction.  Of course, there’s the library book flashpoint where Moms for Liberty and freelancers have tried to scour school libraries for books that might promote racial harmony and diversity on various fronts.  Some local boards have fought this invasion, but in other cases, red state legislatures have sided with the culture censors and tried to dictate standards.  Some places, like in Texas and Florida, this takes the form of approving or not approving textbooks for classrooms unless they toe the ideological marks of the right.  Other times, it’s worse.

A half-dozen states have signed contracts with a nonprofit called Prager University, which is not a university, to distribute and run conservative propaganda in schools.  As the Washington Post reports, PragerU…

…produces short videos that push patriotism and conservative views of history, race, sex and gender, among other topics. Since last year, Florida, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Montana and Arizona [and now Louisiana] have also announced partnerships with PragerU under which the nonprofit’s lessons become state-sanctioned, optional teaching materials for public schools. PragerU is neither paying nor receiving money from state partners, the nonprofit and state officials said. The company and its supporters hail the moves as countering what they call left-leaning ideas in education. The half dozen partner states, said PragerU Chief Executive Marissa Streit, are just the beginning.

Yes, it’s still optional, and, yes, local districts can still reject the propaganda, but it is “state-sanctioned,” and it is undeniably yet another brick in the wall to creating state schools.  You can also pretty much count the days until it is also state funded.  In Louisiana, when my son was in high school, he had to take a course on “free enterprise.”  Pushing business ideology is old hat in public schools. Force-feeding the whole conservative propaganda diet onto local school districts in red states that depend on the state legislatures for part of their funding is a giant leap in the bad direct of creating state schools.