Several conservative reformers are beginning their terms on local school boards. Like me, many parents and citizens hope that you who won will help save our schools. You have earned the opportunity to lead.
Since John Dewey over a century ago, American education has been dominated by self-avowed progressives and leftists; communitarian and Utopian materialists. Their policies have increasingly shaped the young.
The very terms that define modern education are so rooted in leftist assumptions that you must consciously resist being beguiled. Avoid jargon, suspect prevailing wisdom, and aggressively retain your grasp on the common sense you acquired in the world beyond academia.
Education in the USA has one overriding purpose; to transmit the knowledge, skills and values of our American variant of Western Civilization to students. Left-leaning idealists have intentionally taken schools off this mission.
Our students are not citizens of the world, they are Americans. Public schools were established in the late 1800s so the children of immigrants would become American in thought, word and deed. This melting-pot worked! Bring our schools back to acculturating future citizens capable of perpetuating our Federal Constitutional Republic.
Avoid “equity,” “inclusiveness” and “diversity” like the poisonous distractions that they really are. When a left-leaning idealist employs these terms, what they really mean is that they intend to engage in social engineering. Their ideology damns America past and present for not living up to their ideals. They wish to trim our culture like a topiary.
Do not let them! These words sound reasonable, but leftists from before Robespierre and Marx utilize language as a weapon. In their hands, words are not used to objectively describe reality; they are used to reformat our sense of reality. Remember what confusion they have sown by their advocacy of a fluid concept of “gender” to replace the biological reality of “sex.”
Avoid grant money as if it was an addictive narcotic. Whether originating in the federal government, state government, corporations, colleges or philanthropists, all grants have one purpose; to turn schools into laboratories to test their pet ideas. Do not let their money warp our schools!
Avoid the conventional wisdom of educational experts. Teacher training has been so rooted in left-leaning assumptions that most educators assume that the pedagogy they were taught has objective validity. It does not.
For example, common assessments which were advocated in the name of equity have stripped classroom teachers of control over how they teach and test in their courses. Instead, this policy empowers bureaucrats and committees. The inspired insight of individuals has given way to the lowest-common-denominator of groupthink. Teachers, supervised by principals and school boards, need to be given back this responsibility.
Avoid draconian policy solutions. The vast majority of in-class and in-school problems are rooted in human interactions. They are best solved as close to the classroom level as possible.
Fire the central office experts who intrude on the relationships between students, teachers, parents and principals. Unless the vast majority of a school district’s budget is devoted to teachers and schools, money is being wasted. Why does School District 271 need a communications director, anyway?
Remember that the teachers union leadership does not speak for all teachers. Reach out to classroom teachers directly.
The best teachers cannot help but take things personally. Empathy is the key to their effectiveness. But often a policy proposal will be defended on the basis of how hard the participants worked on it, or on how earnestly the advocates believe in it. This is emotional, not reasonable.
Inspire, earn trust, ignore personal attacks and be patient. Listen, learn and be worthy leaders.
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In Maine and then Idaho, Ralph K. Ginorio has taught the history of Western Civilization to high school students for nearly a quarter century. He is an “out-of-the-closet” Conservative educator with experience in special education, public schools and charter schools, grades 6-12. He has lived in Coeur d’Alene since 2014. Email: email@example.com