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The Strings of School Choice
The plot to regulate private schooling options through public accountability tied to public funding.
There has been a lot of buzz lately about school choice. The term “school choice” can mean a lot of things, like the ability of a parent to send their child to a school outside the zip code they live in or being able to choose an alternate type of schooling they feel is right for their child (homeschooling, charter, private, etc.). Beyond that, there is a growing movement to pass bills that allow for public tax money (public education funds) to “follow the child” to pay for education options that are usually privately funded (like private and homeschooling) via vouchers or Education Savings Accounts (ESAs). “Fund students not systems” sounds like a magical solution to the burgeoning amount of parents who are discontent with the public school system for pushing political ideologies on their children while delivering poor academic results. What these unsuspecting parents don’t know is that the same agenda they are running from in public schools will follow the child with that public money into private schooling. There are global forces eagerly waiting in the wings for these bills to pass so they can “fix” the inequities of school choice that allow wealthier families to have better options and greater results.
In this background paper commissioned for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Global Education Monitoring Report, the authors lay out how public money funding private schools through school choice (and the regulation & accountability that comes with it) can ensure that all education aligns with governments’ equity goals. “Global goals and international development agendas (i.e., EFA, MDGs, SDGs) have been strategically mobilized by certain donors and governments to justify and legitimize PPPs [Public-Private Partnerships] and other market-oriented policies. To them, private provision is portrayed as a quick and effective strategy to increase access to basic education – a goal recurrently emphasized in such agendas.”(inset, pg. 6-7)
One of UNESCO’s methods to achieve equity for their Education 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goal 4 is Global Citizenship Education, wherin the purpose of education for all learners is to train them to be “global citizens.” The aim of Global Citizenship Education is to get children all over the world to think in a very specific, “hive-mind” way about certain topics: valuing socialism over capitalism & collectivism over individualism, accepting that gender is fluid & that children deserve sexual rights, and that climate issues should be addressed through a shift in energy resources. The ultimate goal is to activate students to be agents of change for social & racial justice issues, LGBTQIA+ rights, and environmentalism.
There is ample evidence that these U.N. objectives are seeping into the United States’ public education system. Students’ familial & cultural values, attitudes & beliefs are being challenged and reshaped through mental health education intiatives like social emotional learning (SEL) programs. The Collaborative for Academic Social and Emotional Learning (CASEL) sets the standards for these programs and rates them by their compliance. CASEL is part of a larger global movement that is using social emotional learning to "influence the Sustainable Development Goals." Parents across the nation began to push back against these programs being taught in schools when they realized that CASEL changed their definition of social emotional learning to Transformative SEL. Transformative SEL teaches social and emotional learning through a racial and equity lens, and asserts the Marxist tenet of Critical Race Theory that the United States is systemically racist. They found that the purpose of SEL Programs like Second Step, who frame their instruction around CASEL’s new definition, was to get their children to be social justice activists for particular racial, gender and sexual political causes.
The adoption of social emotional learning programs has flourished in public schools because of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which replaced the No Child Left Behind law’s references to “core academic subjects,” calling for a “well-rounded education” for all students. In exchange for accepting federal funds (i.e. Title I), states have to report back to the federal government on non-academic/subjective factors like the social and emotional health of their students. What is reported on must be taught through CASEL-approved curricula, assessed, and scored through dashboards like those offered through Panorama Education. The imperative to teach, assess, collect data on and report back to the federal government on social emotional learning does not exist in private and homeschool environments. They do not use public money and therefore do not fall under the purvue of the state like public schools do, who are required to adopt state standards that are accountable to federal regulations. The introduction of public money into private and homeschool through “money following the student” bills would change that, giving entities like UNESCO full access to all avenues of education to push their programming.
On page 54 of the aforementioned document, “Regulating Public-Private Partnerships, governing non-state schools: an equity perspective",” the authors note that Public-Private Partnerships schools are not "exempt from complying with centrally defined curricula, learning standards or student admissions criteria, among other public regulations.” They state that the regulation of evaluation (assessments) and accountability frameworks “play a strategic role in promoting that all publicly-funded schools, independently of their ownership, are correctly aligned with quality standards and also with the equity goals and objectives set by the government.”
It’s important to note that “equity” is not the same as equality. Equality asserts that “all men are created equal”, not that all men should be made equal. “Equity” teaches that you should treat people unequally to make them have equal outcomes. UNESCO believes that “global citizenship education” pushed through social emotional learning will help students adopt their equity worldview, which advocates for the redistribution of wealth and power through Marxist-based identity politics. Public education is rife with this equity agenda which private schools and homeschools will soon be fully infected with when public regulations follow the public money in with the child. This chart in the document lays out just some of the ways that government can regulate private institutions that accept public funding and hold them accountable to their public school standards:
According to the authors, public regulation has "recently emerged as the main policy option to tackle education inequalities, resulting from private actors' involvement in the provision of education." School choice bills that promote "money following the child" are playing right into this trap and will put a regulatory stranglehold on private education. If passed, all education options will be turned into the same indoctrination camps parents are disgusted by in public education. Then there will be absolutely no school choice because we will have destroyed the last bastians of educational freedom we had left.