Frequent readers of both The Hayride and my columns at The American Spectator are surely aware that my interest in government-run public education is nearly nil. I’m for wreaking as much destruction on the public-school status quo as possible, because it’s the single most dysfunctional and destructive cultural institution in this country save perhaps for higher education (there could be a whole piece in itself just discussing the chicken-and-egg question of whether bad K-12 schooling produces poor colleges, or whether poor colleges lead to bad K-12 schooling). So I’ll acknowledge that taking up for Cade Brumley is a bit off the beaten track for me.
But Brumley needs saving, at least for now and certainly for the reason the Left is now calling for Louisiana’s state superintendent of education.
It’s essentially a fool’s errand for anyone to attempt to reform Louisiana’s public schools so as to make them competitive even with the national pack. Caring citizens have been trying in earnest at least for the last three decades; it started with Mike Foster throwing money at the problem and continued with Bobby Jindal attempting to inject a bit of choice and accountability into it. None of that really works; Louisiana spends in the middle of the pack on public education and gets bottom-five results on national standardized testing.
But we can ask, at the very minimum, two things of Louisiana’s atrocious public schools. First, that if they can’t actually educate the bulk of the children passing through their doors every day, they can at least refrain from indoctrinating them into Marxist garbage like Critical Race Theory. And second, and even more basic than the first, that the schools actually function as schools and not centers of child abuse where children not at risk of COVID-19 aren’t forced to wear uncomfortable and useless face masks per the edict of politicians at the state level.
This is where Brumley comes in.
We’re told by several of Louisiana’s conservative state legislators who have their eyes on the ongoing curriculum review of Louisiana’s social studies programs that Brumley is an ally, and an op-ed he wrote for the Shreveport Times back in July would suggest they’re right. If you’ll remember the debate over Rep. Ray Garofalo’s bill limiting the teaching of Critical Race Theory in Louisiana’s schools, one argument made against the bill was that the state Department of Education was already tackling the issue within the social studies review and that the review process, rather than the legislative process, was the more appropriate venue for a Critical Race Theory debate.
Which was utter nonsense when it was put forth. The state legislature appropriates taxpayer funds toward public education in Louisiana and is therefore the ultimate arbiter of what those funds should produce. If the legislature wishes to dictate curriculum to the public schools, then it’s well within their purview to do so. The people calling for Garofalo and the others who seek to block Critical Race Theory to butt out were doing so for a good reason – they figured they’d have an easier time of ramming through an anti-American indoctrination agenda through the social studies review.
But Brumley has, we’re told, been quite cool to that and is instead steering the review toward a patriotic treatment of social studies curricula in Louisiana. It feels strange to find that laudatory, as it is truly the absolute minimum of expectations for a state superintendent of education, but he’s giving at least this much.
Brumley also said last week that he was for personal choice rather than forced quarantines for kids who were exposed to COVID-19, and that’s inflamed some of the same folks who were already mad that he isn’t throwing open the schools to the teachings of Robin D’Angelo and Ibram X. Kendi.
They want him to resign, though not all of them are openly calling for it yet. The Louisiana GOP stood up for Brumley yesterday in a press release…
Louisiana Superintendent of Education Cade Brumley issued new guidance last week which allows school districts to notify parents that their child has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19. His guidance lets parents decide whether to send their children back to school or not. Current guidelines require students to quarantine after being in close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.
The LAGOP commends Superintendent Brumley for providing parents with a local option to determine their children’s education. Louisiana has lived under one-man rule by Governor Edwards for the past nineteen months, and it is nineteen months past due that parents be included in the conversation.
Article 101 of the Louisiana Constitution clearly provides that “Parents have the paramount right to raise their children in accordance with their own values and traditions; that the parents should make the decisions.”
“What we are trying to do is employ a common sense approach that returns control to the local community and allows them to make decisions in the best interest of their kids,” Brumley said.
Louisiana is now among states with the lowest per capita rate of new cases, according to data from the Center for Disease Control. Governor Edwards and President Biden’s policy guidelines are damaging our children’s education and harming their future. The LAGOP fully supports Superintendent Brumley in allowing this local option.
This is of a piece with the fracas taking place earlier in the school year when, after Edwards reinstated his COVID mask mandate, the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education scheduled a vote on adopting such a mandate in the state’s public schools and then skipped out on it amid the presence of interested citizens demanding that schools, rather than BESE, be the ones making that decision. The Left, and particularly the teachers’ unions, are demanding the kids be forced to wear those masks if the schools are to function rather than be virtual.
We’re of a mind to say let it burn, and let the whole thing collapse into a giant pile of woke manure. Nationally, the percentage of home-schooling families has rocketed past eleven percent in the past year, and huge majorities of Americans now favor all education money flowing straight to the parents. If what passes for an educational establishment in Louisiana – the teachers’ unions and school board hacks across the state who generally scream at the sky if any change at all other than increased funding is proposed – wants to fire Cade Brumley so badly and manages to succeed, then it’ll be time to put wholesale educational savings accounts on the electoral agenda for 2023 and let’s have that fight.
Louisianans are among the most educationally adventurous folks in America. At one point a few years ago this state had a higher percentage of its children in private or parochial schools than any other. Louisiana was one of the first states to embrace a form of school choice, though that movement has largely been starved to death by the teacher union stooge currently in the governor’s mansion.
But if the woke crowd and the status quo establishment wants to crucify Brumley for demanding that school employees show up and educate kids like we’re paying them to do, fine. It’ll be time for a whole new ball game, starting with breaking the failed public education system here into shards.