The End of Public Education?

Cameron Lee Cowan

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Ever since the pandemic upended public education as we knew it, there has been an attack on public education in this country. This is not new, charter schools and voucher programs have existed since I was school-age almost 20 (yikes, I’m old) years ago. With parents increasingly unhappy with how schools are teaching their children, proponents of school vouchers are using this unhappiness to push for more programs where government money follow kids, even to religious schools.

Colorado was on the forefront of school voucher programs and they have since become popular nationwide. Some districts like the oft-talked abut Washington D.C. school district has adopted them despite pressure from policymakers and parents so that kids who can leave the district at least have the option. What has this all added up to? An attack on education in the US.

The attacks on education have been fomented by some recent developments in the social and identity politics discussions in this country. Between whether children should learn about racism or trans people, parents have started to make the decision to flee the school system altogether.

During the Trump years, Betsy Devos was actively trying to undermine her own Department of Education by dismantling public education. This isn’t new for the Republican party either. Reagan ran on disbanding the Department of Education in the 1980s. Liberalization of the school system spawned the Christian school movement in the 1970s and the homeschooling movement in the 1980s. What comes after public education?

Parents and CRT

One of the flash points of this new attack on public education came in the form of “critical race theory.” Especially on the right-wing, this has become a political movement. School board elections have become knockdown, drag out fights. Parents have gone viral online for their vitriolic speeches at school board meetings and taking over school boards has become a republican political agenda. Critical Race Theory ranks about as high as the “Trans” agenda in education.

Much of this stems from a poor understand of critical race theory. There are things that CRT is and things that CRT is not. Critical Race Theory is an academic term, used primarily in academia to analyze historical events through the lens…

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Cameron Lee Cowan

Creative Director of The Cameron Journal. Culture, political commentary, and much more!