Education is always political

That was a comment Paul Campos of the Lawyers, Guns and Money blog made recently (I can’t find the link). In response to the complaints of Ron DeStalinist and other right-wingers insisting they want to take the left-wing politics and wokeness out of school. But as Campos says, education is always partly political; DeStalinist and other Republicans just dislike the direction of politics. They pretend they’re liberating schools from some imagined left-wing agenda but only to impose their own.

Making schools gay friendly, providing library books that gay students can see themselves in, these are political goals but it’s a good politics, one of inclusion and support for all students. DeSantis “don’t say gay” policies for schools (replicated elsewhere) are about making them as unwelcoming to gays as possible. That’s political, much like Matt Staver’s desire Christian schools exclude kids with gay parents. Theocrat Rick Scarborough is just as keen to elect anti-gay school boards. A proposal in Michigan would let kids opt out of any class that references LGBTQ, or covers books that reference. Maybe I’m cynical but I doubt they’d be as troubled by Nazi homeschool programs as some are by musicals with gay characters. Or for that matter, Russian-influenced homeschooling.

It’s political when Tennessee considers rejecting $1.8 billion in federal aid for poor kids, both in the desire to evade the federal regulations that come with it and, of course, not to give a crap about poor kids (as Paul Campos says, we have the money to eliminate poverty, just not the will or vision to do it). Ditto North Carolina’s abysmally poor school funding.

Complaining about a black studies AP course is political too. So is threatening to drop AP courses from Florida schools because the College Board dared disagree with DeSantis. “He’s screaming and complaining about ideology being pushed onto our schools, yet what he continues to do is push his ideology onto us,” state Rep. Rep. Anna Eskamani says (at the second link). There there’s the Florida school district pulling a book about Roberto Clemente off the shelves because it mentions he faced racism, as well as books on the underground railroad and the Japanese-American internment. While this kind of pre-emptive compliance may be a cautious over-reaction to DeSantis’ rules, I haven’t heard anything from his administration saying “No, this is fine” so obviously he’s cool with it.

Or consider Montana where legislator Daniel Emrich wants to ban teaching scientific theories in school in favor of scientific facts. This may be simple ignorance about science — even proven science is referred to as theory (e.g., evolution, quantum physics, relativity) because it’s conceivable it might be corrected some day. Or maybe it’s another attempt to ban teaching evolution without coming out and saying it. Because evolution refutes the myth of the absolutely inerrant Bible so for some religious conservatives it doesn’t matter whether it’s true or not, it has to go (even debating it is objectionable to some because that implies the Bible’s truths can be debated). Some creationists are open that evolution gets in the way of establishing a “Christ-centric science.”

Or maybe as Emrich is also an anti-vaxxer, he’s just dog-ignorant. Or any combination of the above.

And let’s not forget Iowa, where Governor Kim Reynolds wants to make it harder for gays and trans kids, easier to ban books and banning information about HPV and that there’s a vaccine against it. Because some right-wingers would sooner risk their daughters getting cancer than accept some girls and women have premarital sex.

They’re not trying to make education apolitical, just making sure it conforms to their authoritarian, white supremacist, misogynist policies. And that it lines the pockets of political allies, because graft and kickbacks are politics too.

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