I recently attended a breakfast sponsored by Alliance Defending Freedom. Attorney General William Barr was the speaker. The room was filled with prominent conservatives of a mind to turn the tide on the Left’s takeover of the federal government and culture.
He could have talked about anything: politics, woke law enforcement, corporate bullying. He chose education.
The former Attorney General said, “We must confront the reality that it may no longer be fair, practical, or even Constitutional to provide publicly-funded education solely through the vehicle of state-operated schools.”
He explained that our public schools started as a religious project. The attempt to seal education off from religion is relatively new. For most of the history of public education, we’ve been able to “finesse” the issue because the country has been “relatively homogenous.”
Horace Mann’s common school movement began in the 1830s with two missions: to forge a common identity and to foster the moral formation of our citizens. It was widely recognized that public schools needed religion and they incorporated “an anodyne form” of Christianity.
Bill Barr explained that, after about 100 years, the Left began secularizing public schools by “subtraction.” But teaching morality and “character” without the “undergirding belief system” left a vacuum. What we are now seeing is “indoctrination” into a radical “secular belief system.” Children are taught a “new progressive orthodoxy,” even that they might change their gender — without the consent of their parents.
Today, in our schools, people who speak in support of traditional religious doctrines are punished for engaging in “hate speech.”
Instead of a melting pot, students are immersed in Critical Race Theory, which separates Americans on account of identity and “unbridgeable differences.”
Do we even need public schools? Bill Barr pointed out: “Public funding of education does NOT require that instruction must be delivered by means of government-run schools.” The funds can follow the student. This is where we should direct our efforts.