Roper: Education or indoctrination?

By Rob Roper

The week of Sept. 20-27 has been dubbed by several activist, special interest and lobbyist organizations as a “Global Climate Strike and Week of Action.” The idea is to convince a bunch of people to walk off their jobs, block traffic, picket offices and businesses, and generally disrupt the rest of the citizenry from being able to function in their daily lives — effectively holding peace, tranquility and freedom of movement hostage in exchange for a radical “Green New Deal” type agenda.

Rob Roper

Rob Roper is the president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

The big problem here is that the shock troops in this strike are expected to be public school students who will march out of class in order to participate in the mayhem. In many cases, if not most or all, the kids will be taking part with the encouragement and facilitation of teachers and administrators on the public dime. This is not OK.

First of all, the kinds of demonstrations being called for — along the lines of what we’ve recently seen with the blocking of the Strolling of the Heifers parade, shouting down business on the floor of the State House, and stopping traffic in Montpelier — are illegal. Those taking part are subject to arrest. It is totally irresponsible for public school officials to aid and abet their students in breaking the law.

In addition to potential legal jeopardy, instigating physical confrontations with people and machines — which is what you’re doing when you block traffic or otherwise stop someone from going from point A to point B — can be dangerous. Some activists could take things too far, or unwilling victims of the protest might overreact, resulting in violent injury. Again, school officials charged with keeping children safe should not be involving students in this kind of activity.

And lastly, what we’re witnessing here is the abandonment of an educational mission in favor of political indoctrination. It’s not just climate change. Over the past year we have seen elementary, middle and high school students encouraged by their teachers to walk out of class over gun control, racism, gender politics — anything to get out of learning (and apparently teaching) algebra.

If these students were being exposed to all sides of these issues, weighing the evidence pro and con, reaching their own conclusions, and then protesting on their own time, that would be one thing. But that’s not what’s happening. They are being told one side of the story, and other arguments are either absent or, worse, being mocked by the people in charge. That’s not education, that’s propaganda.

What we will witness on Sept. 20 and the following week is public schools being willingly co-opted by special interest groups so that children can be exploited by adults in order to push a partisan political agenda. This comes at the expense of the children’s real education. They are not being taught how to think, they are being told what to think, and then what to do.

Is this really what we are paying some of the highest property taxes in the nation and, by some estimates, $22,000 a year per child for? Brainwashed children pouring out of their classrooms to disrupt our daily lives on behalf of political lobbyists? For parents and taxpayers, there’s a hefty combination of insult and injury wrapped up in this equation! For the children, it’s just a sad waste of their true potential.

The solution to this problem is statewide, parent-driven school choice with the money following the child. If you want a school to turn your kid into a left-wing activist playing in traffic, fine. But if you don’t, as a parent you should have the right and the ability to choose a school that reflects your values and priorities. Parents who think schools should be focused on teaching their children reading, writing, math, etc. (and are wondering why our student proficiency levels stink) should speak out and demand the right to move their children somewhere else.

The public school system is a monopoly, accountable in reality only to the politicians who control the flow of tax dollars into its coffers. This unhealthy dynamic is at the root of why we are seeing an increasingly political agenda replace traditional education in our public schools. It’s time to break up that monopoly and make the schools accountable not to politicians, but to parents and students through school choice. That’s something to think about when you’re stuck in traffic on the way to work because a dozen eighth graders have chained themselves together in the middle of the highway.

Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute. He lives in Stowe.

Image courtesy of Michael Bielawski/TNR

10 thoughts on “Roper: Education or indoctrination?

  1. Lets do the math. $22,000 per student, per year, times 13 years is around $286,000 to educate each student. Its clearly a corrupt system, pushed on us by liberals. Its going to get worse. Over the next 20 years, 20 percent of the Vermont population is going to die off. They own 80% of the lands and structures. No one except the very rich can afford to take their place and they are not coming here. This commie experiment is going die and be an example for the rest of the nation. — But in the mean time lives of life long Vermonters are being forever destroyed. Get out while you can people and let the commies live in their own mess.

  2. Follows the pattern faithfully;
    Communists, Nazis, Fascists, and wartime Japanese……….
    Destroy Capitalism, destroy technology, destroy our precious freedoms – – –
    start with bureaucratic force, false premises, and endless preaching of imminent
    disaster if we continue to live a comfortable productive life of freedom.

    Start with the Children

  3. Educators who introduce their political views to student need to be removed.
    The job of teachers is to educate, not indoctrinate!!!!!!!!!

  4. This whole shurade is nothing more than demonstrating that the vocal minority can rule the day by shouting loud and often. Happily, at the end of the day, the majority will rise up and put things back where they belong.

  5. All schools, public and independent, ‘indoctrinate’ in one way or another. Cognitive Bias is universal.

    What makes this case egregious is the public school monopoly. It’s why monopolies are illegal in the private sector. Curiously, no one is paying attention to the unconstitutionality of the Vermont public school system since:

    Brigham v. State of Vermont, 166 Vt. 246, 265, 692 A.2d 384
    (1997), in which the Supreme Court found that Vermont’s “distribution of a resource as
    precious as educational opportunity may not have as its determining force the mere
    fortuity of a child’s residence” and therefore violated the Common Benefits Clause.
    (emphasis in original). The Brigham court noted that, under the Vermont
    Constitution, education is a fundamental right and that “any statutory framework
    that infringes upon the equal enjoyment of that right bears ·a commensurate heavy
    burden of justification.” I d. at 256. This “heavy burden of justification” implies a
    more searching scrutiny, where “the State must demonstrate that any
    discrimination occasioned by the law serves a compelling governmental interest,
    and is narrowly tailored to serve that objective.” 265.
    Page 21 Athens v. VT State Board of Ed.

    If my school district provides School Choice tuitioning to its citizens, is it legal for the school district next door to withhold School Choice from its citizens just because they live in a different zip code? The answer is, of course, no. It’s not legal.

  6. Easy question to answer,schools no longer teach history of civics however every other un American Marxist scheme is covered,indoctrination.

  7. If these ” Worlds Saviours ” want to protest that’s there right, but when they try to stop people
    who are trying to get to work or have a meeting or an appointment …… well that’s the rub !!

    I hope our law enforcement, keeps an eye on this nonsense and those disrupting normal people
    doing their normal business ……………get arrested !!

    If not then I assume some real Vermonter’s may take things into there own hands and these
    Liberal Snowflakes aren’t going to like the outcome ……..

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