As conservatives, we seek to build on past successes wherever we can rather than start anew. Fortunately, when we look at the question of education, the next conservatism quickly finds a lot to build on. The existing conservative movement has done some things right in this area.
The most important achievement is the home schooling movement. Today, over a million American children are getting real educations at home instead of being propagandized in the public schools. Over and over, home schoolers score far higher than public school students on standardized tests. They also do better in college. And, most of them have learned our country’s real history instead of the Politically Correct distortions taught in the government schools.
Conservatives have also made progress in dealing with the corruption of our universities by the ideology of cultural Marxism, which includes all the phony “studies” departments we now see in most colleges. We have established new colleges and universities, both “brick and mortar” and on-line institutions, that offer the classics of Western culture. Conservative alumni groups are having real impact on some existing universities, working to restore freedom of thought and speech.
The next conservatism should keep these efforts up. At the same time, it should revive something conservatives seem to have forgotten about, namely getting the federal government out of local schools. Predictably, its involvement there has just made things worse. The “No Child Left Behind” Act has been a disaster, distorting teaching to drill students in answers to government-mandated tests. The next conservatism should renew the call to disestablish the Federal Department of Education and leave local schools to local communities.
It is important to remember cultural Marxism’s educational goal. What the members of the Frankfurt School said about education was that it does not matter whether children in schools learn any skills or any facts. All that matters is that they emerge from school with certain “attitudes” on certain questions. In other words, schools are just Skinner boxes where young people are to be psychologically conditioned. So long as they emerge from their schooling as, for example, committed environmentalists, it is not important whether they know anything at all. Political Correctness itself is all that counts.
Again, I have seen this creeping into curricula in the schools conservatives have helped set up as alternatives to the public schools. Unless we throw it back out again, all our efforts to save our children from being conditioned as cultural Marxists will be in vain. In fact, we will see it turning up in home schooling also, in the text books home schoolers use (it may be there already).
Like immigration, this is an issue where the next conservatism cannot wait until 2008. We need to get cracking now.