One of the only positive developments to come out of the Covid experience in Pennsylvania is the fact that parents have become more attentive to what's going on in our public education system.
What began as a few weeks' worth of inconvenience because school buildings closed down near the end of the 2019-20 academic year has now become a five-alarm panic over what exactly the public school system is doing to our children.
In July 2020, I was the first legislator to publicly give voice to concerns over the potential long-term negative consequences of keeping kids from socializing normally, making them wear masks, and convincing them that other humans are dangerous.
Staying six feet away from everyone else on Earth does not foster a healthy psyche. Instilling kids with a fear of others will have long term effects, none of which are positive. Kids need to run and play, not being cnstantly reminded of some imaginary safe-zone bubble they live inside.
When the temporary school closings became more regular after the 2020-21 academic year began, parents became alarmed at what they witnessed within the regular school curriculum.
Peppered with leftist ideology, contempt for American values & traditions, and discrimination based on a child's skin color and the acts of others who had the same skin color before they were born, nearly every school's curricula came under scrutiny.
When parents began to show up and speak up, school administrators dismissed them. Some school boards attempted to silence them, a violation of the US Constitution's First Amendment. Meetings became contentious just about everywhere across the Commonwealth.
The situation went beyond the pale when these parents - who were only asking questions about what their children were being taught, and raising objections to wholly age-innapropriate materials in some school libraries - were branded as domestic terrorists by the Biden Administration's Department of Justice.
Worse yet was the stink of collusion between school administrators, federal law enforcement, and various organizations purportedly existing to protect the employment rights of educators.
There is now a pressing need to re-examine our public education system, and to evaluate whether it's serving the purpose it is intended to serve. That purpose is clearly stated in Article III Section 14 of the Pennsylvania Constitution:
§ 14. Public school system.
The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.
What does thorough mean? What does efficient actually mean? And what exactly are the needs of the Commonwealth? Further, what is meant by the terms maintenance and support? The PA Supreme Court is currently hearing a case on that last point, so I guess we'll see what they have to say about it.
Our schools have been exposed by Covid, and we need to rethink the entire education delivery system in Pennsylvania. How your child is educated should not be determined by your zip code. We need to stop funding static facilities and start empowering parents by funding them instead. This will create competition, and competition generally creates more innovation and a better product.
Until we figure it all out, we at least need to stop classifying kids by the color of their skin, and we absolutely must stop categorizing them as oppressors and victims simply based on race or gender. I am the prime sponsor of HB1532, to eliminate what's commonly known as critical race theory from all public education systems in Pennsylvania by defunding any school that teaches that any race or gender is superior or inferior to others.
I've actually been talking about an Apollo-style major redesign of Pennyslvania's public education system - albeit quietly and only in certain circles - for quite a while. But maybe this is our opportunity to bring that conversation out into the open.
Let's empower parents. Let's invest in our children rather than buildings. Let's usher in the age of school choice in Pennsylvania. Let's focus on teaching kids how to think, not what to think. Once they are proficient at reading, writing, math, and accurate history, then we can talk about everything else.
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