Recently, I had the privilege of immersing myself in the captivating world of heroes at the historic National Theatre in Washington, D.C., where the film, "Into the Spider-Verse," provided some invaluable insights. The experience left me contemplating the notion that we all harbor a spark of superhero potential.
This belief was solidified at a conference I recently attended, where two exceptional speakers, both bearing the name James, fervently addressed the pressing need for innovation in our education system. Hailing from distant corners of the globe – one from the UK, the other from the U.S. – these two men committed their lives to safeguarding the education of children, bravely speaking truth and understanding that the inaction of good men paves the way for the triumph of evil.
Our first James, James Lindsay, wears many hats: scholarly author, discerning mathematician, and sharp political commentator. He embarked on a courageous odyssey to mend the fractures in American society, even facing the loss of a stable income to do so. Lindsay now resonates as a global voice, casting light on the encroaching surge of Marxism, particularly within education.
Lindsay's fervent advocacy for homeschooling stands as a beacon of hope amid the shifting sands of our educational landscape. His work, “The Marxification of Education,” urges us to seize control of our children's education and safeguard their intellectual autonomy. Lindsay writes:
“Education is in bad shape in America and beyond today. It’s obvious. Everyone perceives it. Something is going badly wrong in our schools. Our children aren’t learning as they should be. Their mastery of core academic curriculum like reading, writing, history, mathematics, science, and civics has declined to crisis levels and shows no signs of improvement. Meanwhile, they’re all learning to be activists, turning their backs on their nations, societies, and even their parents and religions. Instead of correcting course, school curricula keep veering into ‘social and emotional learning (SEL),’ Critical Race Theory, cultural competence, culturally relevant education, Queer Theory, Radical Gender Theory, Comprehensive Sexuality Education, decolonizing the curriculum, and even drag queens. What’s going on?”
Our second James, James Tooley, also dons multiple hats: Vice Chancellor of the University of Buckingham in England, distinguished Professor of Educational Entrepreneurship and Policy at the same university, and Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute. His journey stands as a living testament to the boundless power of persistence and unwavering conviction.
Mr. Tooley paints a beautiful picture of education outside of a government system in his book, “The Beautiful Tree,” highlighting “families and teachers who taught him that the poor are not waiting for educational handouts. They are building their own schools and educating themselves.”
Tooley's odyssey carried him across continents in a quest for private schools tailored for the underprivileged. In both urban sprawls and rustic hamlets, where public schools were but a mirage, private establishments thrived. These were not gestures of charity, but rather flourishing endeavors propelled by a shared dedication to educate children in a manner surpassing most public counterparts.
Tooley's audacity to venture into the most economically disadvantaged communities is nothing short of heroic. He now carries the torch, illuminating the truth that private schools for the poor are not confined to a few isolated instances, but are a reality wherever parents harbor a deep love for their children.
Alabama, this revelation gifts us immeasurable hope. If nations in the developing world can surmount the odds to create educational opportunities for their children, surely, we can do the same across our state, in even the most rural sectors.
However, we must discover our own champions, for Tooley faced a plethora of leaders eager to dismiss what he bore witness to. The very existence of these private institutions for the underprivileged, in many ways, underscores the shortcomings of public schools.
Many profess that impoverished parents are incapable of educating their own children. They're deemed helpless. I, for one, vehemently reject that notion.
The tales of these two men named James serve as powerful reminders that heroism is not bound by capes or fictional narratives. Instead, heroism manifests in the courage to challenge the status quo and the faith to pursue a vision of a better future. Their collective message echoes – we are not alone in this endeavor for education reform. We stand united in our pursuit of a more equitable and empowering educational landscape.
As we navigate the intricate web of educational transformation, let us draw inspiration from these modern-day heroes. Let us be reminded that, like them, we too possess the potential to make a profound impact on the lives of countless children and the future of education right here in Alabama.
Alabama, consider this the inauguration of our statewide education book club! Should you decide to embark on this journey with me, read the two books mentioned in this article and email me with your thoughts. We can only right the ship we understand.
Jennifer Wolverton is a wife, homeschool mom, STEM business owner, author of ALSchoolChoice on FB, Co-Leader of Eagle Forum Huntsville Action Group, and Parent Advocate and edupreneur with K12 Policy Alliance living in Madison County. To connect with the author of this story, email [email protected]