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Education must focus on children's needs, and parents must have the discretion to place their children in the educational environment that best prepares their children for life and work. Such discretion entails creating a school choice system in which educational dollars follow students. We have now reached a point at which we can no longer expect that public education will act in the best interest of public-school students and according to the values of their families and communities. Our experience with public education during the COVID-19 pandemic and, more recently, as a vehicle for imposing toxic belief systems on students and communities demands a new approach to educating rising generations.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, public schools suspended regular in-person instruction for a year or longer. At the same time, private, parochial, and home schools continued with in-person instruction. As public-school students attempted to learn via Zoom and other remote learning options, parents gained new insights into untoward content and teaching methods that had crept into their children's classrooms. Armed with new insights into instruction and teaching methods they reject and alarmed by months of interrupted learning, parents now seek greater control over their children's education and learning.
Parents also reject the Biden Administration's attempts to create un-American belief systems, that are antithetical to values parents seek to instill in their children. For example, Biden's Department of Education sought to bring the instruction in the 1619 Project to K-12 schools. By offering grants to school systems, leftists at the Department of Education sought to introduce this racist version of America's founding into K-12 classrooms.
Parents can soon expect that Biden's Departments of Justice (DOJ) and Education (ED) will seek to resurrect Obama's 2016 gender-identity agenda in public schools. As they did in May of 2016, leftists at these agencies will seek to force compliance from public schools by threatening them with the loss of federal funding for the school nutrition programs, special needs students, low-income students, and teacher development if they do not afford students facilities and programs according to their gender identity.
In May 2016, I rejected the mandate from Obama's DOJ and ED to afford students with facilities and programs according to their gender identity. When a transgender male student sought to use girls' facilities and then took a picture in a girls' restroom, I expelled him and set the stage to fight Obama's agenda in federal court. Less than a year later, President Trump's DOJ and ED rescinded Obama's attempt to use his interpretation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to inject his transgender agenda into schools. I was unwilling to bow to DOJ and ED mandates that would make Huntsville City Schools a vehicle for subjugating the values of families, destroying girls' sports, and invading the privacy of male and female students in locker rooms and restrooms.
As Superintendent (of Huntsville Schools from 2011 to 2016), I fought the AEA to improve teaching. I recommended the removal or suspension of over 100 teachers and principals who failed their students. I implemented a semi-annual review of teaching in every classroom in grades 3-12. These changes had a strongly positive impact on student learning. Huntsville City Schools went from nine failing schools and no Blue Ribbon Schools to one failing school and nine Blue Ribbon Schools. By 2015 it was the only school system in America to be named a National Cyber Center of Excellence. Graduation rates rose from 66 percent to 88 percent, while college enrollments increased and student remediation in college fell by 40 percent.
Today, leaders - whether they're the Superintendent of a school system or a congressman - must ensure that future generations appreciate the history, values, and institutions that make America exceptional.
Casey Wardynski, from Huntsville, is a candidate for Alabama's 5th District Congressional seat. 1819 News does not endorse candidates for public office and welcomes the views of any candidate running for office in Alabama. This column has been edited for brevity by 1819 News. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to Commentary@1819news.com.