Joseph Backholm is senior fellow for Biblical worldview and strategic engagement at the Family Research Council. This article appeared in WORLD Magazine on March 14, 2023.
Credentials don’t reassure parents as schools seek to radicalize children
Just last year, Arizona passed groundbreaking school choice legislation. Nevertheless, the conflict between parents and the educational establishment in the state just marches on. Recently, lawmakers in Arizona introduced legislation that would give parents 120 days to review curriculum before it is made available to students in government schools. Parents would also have the right to opt children out of classes.
While many see this as a reasonable way to keep parents informed, it is deeply troubling to others. One Arizona teacher explained why. “I have a master’s degree,” the teacher said in the video dated Feb. 15. “Because when I got certified, I was told I had to have a master’s degree to be an Arizona-certified teacher. We all have advanced degrees. What do the parents have?”
Parents have children, which, sadly, they now have to protect against a public education establishment that is gleefully pulling them into a debauched culture under the progressive rubric of inclusion and other sanctimonious buzzwords.
By virtue of having children, parents also have a unique interest in their children and unique knowledge of what their children need. That kind of expertise and interest is something a master’s degree will never confer. Parents also have God-given and legally recognized rights to direct the upbringing of their children. So, parents have a lot. Truth be told, the fact that this needs to be explained to someone with a master’s degree is part of what makes people question the value of a master’s degree.
The implication that parents are intruding into spaces they don’t belong belies the facts. Only recently have schools introduced books like Gender Queer: A Memoir, Two Boys Kissing, and This Book is Gay. Only recently have schools introduced books that cannot be read aloud at a school board meeting because children are present. Only recently have children been encouraged to pledge allegiance to gay pride flags and required to march in “confidential” school pride parades. Only recently have teachers begun to tell kindergartners that we can’t know whether a baby is a boy or a girl at birth.
It isn’t the parents who changed, it’s the system that changed. And fifty-three percent of all public school teachers now have a master’s degrees. Notably, the growth in educational accomplishments for teachers has tracked a continuing decline in math competencies for students. In addition, as of 2019, fewer than 1 in 4 high school seniors were proficient in science.
All of this is concerning, but the failure to educate is not the biggest problem with the public-school system. The risk of being miseducated may be the greatest risk of all and the teachers themselves are the best evidence of the risk. After all, few of them began their educational careers believing boys can become girls, but now they teach it as if no other perspective is worth hearing. What happened? The education system happened.
It is a less serious problem to discover your child is illiterate than to discover he believes men can become pregnant. When you are uneducated, all you need to do is learn. When you are miseducated, you must unlearn what you thought you knew to create space to learn things worth knowing. In too many cases, parents of children who are being miseducated are finding that people with a master’s degrees have ushered their children into a cult of transgenderism where they learn to hate their parents and their body. In many cases, the consequences are irreversible; the consequences are also intentional.
Perhaps the most ominous part of the teacher’s statement was her conclusion. She finished by saying, “We must remember that the purpose of public education is not to teach only what parents want their children to be taught, it is to teach them what society needs them to be taught.”
Based on the evidence, society needs our children to believe preferred pronoun usage is more important that math, feelings are the guide to truth, following your heart is the path to happiness, and parents are part of the problem; all brought to you by people with master’s degrees. Which is why a growing number of parents are quick to say, “You can keep your master’s degree, and I’ll keep my child.”