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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Sunday, May 19, 2024

The Casual Death of Education: The constant assault on education by the American Right

The American Right seems determined to dismantle the last vestiges of America's education system.

The Casual Death of Education Column graphic (UPDATED)
Graphic by Bex Povill

The American education system is in crisis: A shortage of teachers, post-pandemic declines in learning and lack of proper funding plagues an already battered education sector. Instead of helping to reform this crumbling system and helping America’s youth, political figures on both sides of the aisle seem more willing to engage in culture war nonsense. While the left isn’t innocent in any of this deadlock, the main failings when it comes to the politicization of education still belong to the right.

With American public education at its worst, it seems that all Republicans would do to fix it is engage in the same petty partisan exercises they have been doing for years. Republicans spend all their time bickering about which bathrooms students should use and which picture book to ban, rather than addressing the egregious fall in math and reading skills across the nation. Right-wingers try to mask their endless political pandering as fighting for “parental rights or academic neutrality, instead of admitting the truth. Some Republicans demand the teaching of both sides of history on all topics for impartiality, but they end up supporting outlandish things, like teaching both sides of Nazi ideology or Marxism.

Other Republicans actively make the crisis worse by attacking already beleaguered teachers, who suffer from low pay and inadequate support. In Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis passed legislation making it easier to sue schools. Other Republicans are eagerly diverting funds away from public schools toward school voucher programs or charter schools, placing more strain on a system already depleted of money. None of these programs address the underlying issues occurring within the American school system including a lack of funding and chronic absenteeism.

When not using the future of America as a political wedge issue, the right wing’s crusade against education is a clear attempt to push its moral values onto a neutral school system. In Texas, Republican lawmakers are pushing for bills mandating Christianity in the classroom. These measures have been critiqued by members of the clergy and fly in the face of the basic tenets of separation of church and state. American children are going to school in Austin, Texas, not  Vatican City. They should be learning about algebra and grammar, not the Ten Commandments.

Of course, what else could we expect from a party that thinks more guns are the answer to school shootings? Republicans are complicit in the decline of America’s education, and instead of addressing the issues that they helped cause, they are focused on partisan squabbles and using America’s children as a political weapon. When high school math scores drop, the answer is to hire more and better math teachers, not complain about college gender studies majors.