Written By: Reverend Anton Sawyer
Between knowing what I know about Republican educational policies and having been the product of the public education system of two incredibly red states—Utah and Wyoming—it’s impossible to think anything other than they want to give the lowest quality education possible. Keep ‘em stupid. Well, not stupid exactly, but incredibly ill-informed and willing to accept whatever illogical bullshit that the conservative leaders of this great nation want to infect the grey matter between their earholes with.
In various regions of America, local political leaders of the GOP have been putting forth the worst ideas imaginable when it comes to educational policies. Ideas that will invariably lead the most impressionable of our country to a severe disadvantage when it comes to their counterparts both nationally and worldwide. With America ranking 38th out of 71 countries in math and 24th in science (per Pew Research), the public education system is already in dire straits, and the ideals which are written about in this article will show that if the Republicans get their way, it’s only going to get worse. Between such severe budget cuts to public education that it warranted the Kansas Supreme Court to call their governor’s actions unconstitutional to classes like science and history being ceased completely before 5th grade, the GOP has really doubled down on allowing the cream of the crap to rise.
In an attempt to maintain complete transparency, all research and statistical fact-checking for all articles can be found in the bibliography linked here.
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Anymore, it never surprises me when I see the good intentions that have inevitably paved a golden road to Hell fall flat. This seems to be the case in Florida, where in 2022, a new law went into effect which has been derided by teachers due to the potential impact on the quality of education Florida children will receive. Under the new law SB896 (which took effect July 1), veterans will be allowed to teach in public schools. The only problem is they don’t need a college degree at all. No matter their educational background or military duties, they aren’t restricted to which subjects they may teach. Though it is worth noting there are certain parameters the veterans must meet. They can teach if they served four years and got an honorable or medical discharge and have cleared a background check. They also must have completed 60 college credits (half of a four-year degree) and pass a Florida subject exam.
Though proponents of the law have said that it’s a way to help our veterans out, many teachers and teacher representatives have come out against the law fearing it would dilute the quality of education that’s being received. "There are many people who have gone through many hoops and hurdles to obtain a proper teaching certificate," said Carmen Ward, president of the Alachua County teachers union. "[Educators] are very dismayed that now someone with just a high school education can pass the test and can easily get a five-year temporary certificate." Alachua County school board member Tina Certain said, "I just think that to the education profession, we're lowering the bar on that and minimizing the criteria of what it takes to enter the profession." It is important to note that this new law will only apply through the 5th grade. Beyond that, they need to have an advanced degree—at least a master's—in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics. And they are limited to teaching those subjects. This means that only the youngest, most vulnerable of children will receive this special brand of education from the minds of conservative Floridian lawmakers.
Given how vociferously the GOP has excoriated President Biden for his constant removal of student loan debt as a punishment to those who took out the loan, went to school, and paid it off, there’s a certain level of hypocrisy to what the Republicans are doing with this veteran’s teaching law. Couldn’t it also be said that these veterans being allowed to teach is a punishment to those who went to school, put in the work, and got a well-deserved degree?
It also seems that the 5th grade being the cutoff of choice for an actual education is taking root in North Carolina as well …
North Carolina’s Republican Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson is now calling for eliminating science and social studies education in elementary schools. In his 2022 memoir, entitled We Are the Majority: The Life and Passions of a Patriot, he railed against kids learning about history in first through 5th grade. “In those grades, we don’t need to be teaching social studies,” Robinson wrote. “We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to be talking about equity and social justice. Science classes should end because they’re teaching kids about climate change. Guess what? Most of the people of North Carolina know global warming is junk science,” he wrote.
So, to Robinson teaching children about ANY American history before 5th grade is a complete waste because it may touch on social justice and equity? This is really confusing given that the Republicans make it a point to champion the fact that Abraham Lincoln was from their party and freed the slaves, therefore nothing the party does can be seen as racist. I’m sure this would be a welcomed slant to the reporting of history in a public school system overseen by conservatives, so this removal of teaching history makes no sense. Not only that, but this would put all students at a severe disadvantage if their family moved to another state where history is taught from the 1st grade on. You could also come to this same conclusion of putting a child at a disadvantage through moving when it comes to the lack of scientific knowledge they would have as well. Other than feeding a Republican talking point, the removal of these subjects would do nothing that could end with positive results.
Speaking of conservative governors that make choices based on talking points over the educational benefits to their constituents ...
In 2012, when the nation was recovering from The Great Recession, Republican Kansas Governor Sam Brownback decided he was going to be the savior of both his state and the Republican party by fighting the "socialistic tactics" used by the Obama administration in fixing the financial collapse America was enduring. He did this by going in a completely different direction than what had been working nationally thus far by cutting taxes massively on the top earners of the state. His Kansas Senate Bill Substitute HB 2117 was supposed to be “like a shot of adrenaline into the heart of the Kansas economy.” It wasn't. Revenues fell by $700 million in the first year and never recovered. That left the state with a serious budget imbalance, which the governor and lawmakers tried to paper over by decimating school funding.
These cuts were nothing short of a horror show.
In fact, the cuts were so massive that in 2017, the Kansas state Supreme Court ruled that the state’s spending on public education was unconstitutionally low. In a unanimous ruling, the court said Black, Hispanic, and poor students were especially harmed by the lack of funding, pointing to lagging test scores and graduation rates. It's important to remember that this was the second time in about a year that Kansas’ highest court ruled against the state’s approach to paying for schools.
To have the highest court in your state say that you have punished children economically to the point of unconstitutionality is stomach-churning. But as we have seen repeatedly in this piece, “this is the way.”
It’s unconscionable what the Republican party is trying to do to America’s public educational system. There’s a part of me that thinks the main reason they are doing this is to sway parents into home-schooling their children, thereby increasing the chances that conservative indoctrination will take hold more thoroughly. Or, that enough parents will be upset at the poor quality of education their children are receiving to the degree that they are willing to contact their local elected officials to push through whatever Charter School program the GOP likes best at any given time. Yet, no matter what their ultimate goal may be, I really wish they would stop using children as pawns in this game of political chess.
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