If you have been listening to the left and their friends in the media over the last several years, you might be under the impression that conservatives in the legislature have chronically underfunded K-12 education. But this couldn’t be further from the truth, and the truly historic levels of education funding actually threatens their soak the rich tax hike (Prop 208).
The reason we know K-12 is funded at historic levels is because there is a constitutional expenditure limit. Next year, we’re on track to blast above it. By billions.
Their pivot has been to attack the expenditure limit, as opposed to acknowledging how much the state is spending. But taxpayers should be thankful for this constitutional protection. It isn’t outdated, and it isn’t holding our schools back.
Senate candidate Blake Masters believes that the modern school system is broken, characterized by “twin tower issues,” he told AZ Free News: teaching “junk” instead of what they need to know. Masters delivered that message in his latest campaign video, similar to his last: a monologue on conservative values delivered in a field, hearkening back to the simplicity of Thomas Jefferson’s yeoman farmer.
“Here’s a harsh truth for you. Our schools are making our kids dumber. The 1619 history curriculum teaches kids that America is somehow fundamentally evil, or racist. Critical Race Theory teaches kids to identify with each other in racial terms. You’re either a victim, or an oppressor based on the color of your skin. And even if you wipe away all this left-wing toxic ideology from our schools – the schools are still failing to teach kids the basics. We’re graduating kids that can’t even read or write. I’m Blake Masters. I’m running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona. And I approve this message because we’ve got to fund students, not systems. We’ve gotta make sure that young people are learning to think for themselves.”
“We’re going to stop woke teachers and schools from turning our kids into losers,” tweeted Masters.
In an interview with AZ Free News, Masters explained that his video was a sort of thought experiment to inspire a critical assessment of our modern school system – every type from public to private schools. He remarked that the focus on pushing social justice agendas at the expense of “teaching real history and cultivating actual skills and talents” was both a cause and effect of deep-rooted issues in the school system.
“I think that’s both a driver of the poor performance but also somehow a symptom of it,” said Masters.
Masters believes the problematic school system is why Republican Governor-Elect Glenn Youngkin secured victory in a presumptively deep-blue state.
“I think we just saw the Youngkin win in Virginia had a lot to do with the school issue and parents frustration and that one gaffe [by Democratic candidate Terry McCauliffe], but it wasn’t a gaffe it was really what he thought: that parents shouldn’t have a say [in their children’s education,” assessed Masters.
Just over a month before Election Day, McCauliffe declared that parents ought to have no power when it comes to their children’s curriculum.
Masters has firsthand experience of political indoctrination in the school system, all the way back in 1994. He told AZ Free News that his teacher had his second-grade class write letters to the editor of the local paper, The Arizona Daily Star, to object to a housing development that razed desert land next to the school.
“I remember in second grade my dad got really mad because [… the school] had us write letters to the editors. There’s a letter that’s printed from me saying it’s so unfair that the developments would do this and that to the lizards and cacti,” recalled Masters. “That was the beginning of some kind of left-wing environmentalist indoctrination. [Other students said that] people shouldn’t even live in houses, they should live in mud huts. The teachers were pointing us in a certain direction. My dad wrote a very scathing response and it was published [as well].”
AZ Free News found the young Masters’ letter to the editor: in 1994, letters from Canyon View Elementary School second-graders were published in a full-page spread titled “Damaging the Desert” in The Arizona Daily Star. The students all echoed similar messages about how “the animals must find new homes,” and condemned both the developers and homeowners for their greed and “killing Mother Nature.”
“Man is killing Mother Nature just for money,” wrote one second-grader, Brian Benhke.
It appeared that one or more teachers took the students into the desert after it had been razed by developers, where they reportedly found blood-covered rocks and animals’ remains. It is unclear if that was the intent of the educators.
Reproduced below is the letter from a young Blake Masters:
“I am concerned because next to our school they are destroying the environment to build new houses. I think they should make sure all the houses in Tucson are taken up before constructing new ones. Why do the workers listen to the boss? If the boss told them to jump off a cliff, would they do it? For the money, sure, just for the money, they’re destroying other animals’ habitats when they don’t have to. Pretty soon we won’t have enough oxygen to live on. In a few years the Sonoran Desert could be ruined. We should make a Desert Belt like the Green Belt in Boulder, Colo[rado]. Maybe if more people lived together, we would not need to build so many houses. If someone doesn’t do something, the Earth will be gone, and we have only one. Maybe people who have more money should not build a huge house. When workers finally realize what they have done, they will say they’re innocent.” (emphasis added)
A month later, Masters’ father issued a lengthy response criticizing the public school system for prioritizing a social justice agenda over educating the second-graders about American freedoms such as private property. The senior Masters pointed out that the vacant land was the private property of the developer, anyway, and that the children who grieved over losing their playground were actually trespassers on that private property. Masters also pointed out that the developed land was for multi-family housing, His remarks strike a familiar tone with parents’ current grievances with the school system.
“These letters these children authored demonstrates that they are being taught (by intent or default) the antithesis of economic freedom. Inherent in our free enterprise system is the vital concept of private property. Without economic freedom and its private property derivative, all other freedoms are meaningless. Along with other constitutionally-guaranteed freedoms, grade school children can understand the critically important concept of private property. After all, what child by the age of 2 has not mastered the usage of the word ‘mine?’ If the children had been exposed to the importance of private property rights, wouldn’t one expect that at least one of the letters would mention that vacant land was the developer’s private property? Had anyone pointed out to the children that when they played on this vacant land, they were in fact trespassing on the private property of another? My surprise at what they are not being taught is surpassed only by what they are being taught. That they are not being taught the basic American values of the individual over the state, economic freedom, and private property is bad enough. What’s even worse is that these letters reveal that our children are being taught that mankind is subservient to plants and animals. Even more alarming is that they are being taught so with scare tactics.”
After that, Masters attended public school until the fifth grade before switching to a private school from sixth grade through his senior year of high school. He recalled learning that Christoper Columbus was a “murderer” in the fourth grade. It wasn’t all bad, however – Masters said he had some unadulterated history education, such as the life and legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr.
“I think that stuff has gotten way way worse since I was a kid,” remarked Masters. “I remember learning about MLK and why that was important. I remember that people used to treat people badly based on the color of their skin. I remember learning about that. Now that seems so old-fashioned. That’s just not what kids learn in K-2 anymore. It’s really shifted since I was a kid.”
Both of letters from the senior and junior Masters are available here.
I recently took the test required for US citizenship applicants. It consisted of 20 out of 100 possible questions. It was shockingly simple.
Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and the Constitution were all answers to straightforward questions. Probably the most difficult question was the minimum voting age (18). I’m no scholar but there was no doubt about any answer.
Yet only one of three American adults can achieve the 60% pass rate. It’s another stark reminder of the sorry condition of our public education system.
You see it everywhere. Most third grade graduates can’t read. High schools award diplomas to students with eighth grade (or worse) academic skills. Colleges must give remedial instruction before freshpersons can tackle even the most basic courses.
Employers complain about uneducated, untrainable college graduates. Tech companies lobby for visas so foreign workers can fill jobs where they can’t find qualified applicants.
America still has an academic elite which produces world leading research and wins prizes, but we suffer at every other level from the lack of academic attainment. Achievement scores have been stagnant for over 50 years, since teachers’ unions assumed de facto control of our public school systems.
Nothing new here, but the public school monopoly has been remarkably successful in fending off desperately needed reforms, like universal school choice. Instead of taking accountability for failures, they simply change the standards.
Arizona has had several iterations of “high stakes“ achievement tests in the last few decades, all created in response to unacceptably high failure rates on previous tests. Yet the public school monopoly is widely supported in demanding yet more money while delivering an inferior product.
The SAT and ACT college entrance exams have also quietly inflated their scores but they still serve as a useful tool for colleges in the admissions process. They prevent gaming of the system by grade inflation and help colleges identify students likely to be successful. Meanwhile, worthy but overlooked students are provided a pathway for proving themselves..
But this month, the University of California system announced it will no longer consider the SAT or ACT in their admissions process on the basis that they employ “racist metrics“. Over half of American four year colleges and universities also have dismissed these tests as requirements for the incoming class in 2021.
The truth is these tests have been thoroughly scrubbed for bias. They’re not racist in any honest sense of the term except that they produce differing results for racial groups. Biased testing is not the explanation, which more likely lies in in unequal opportunity and effort among the groups.
For example, Asian-American students spend 13 hours per week on homework according to a UCSD study. White students spend 5.5 hours weekly, Hispanic and black students less. Asian-American parents are education-oriented and stress the value of hard work.
However, high-end charter schools have shown that children of all races can learn when given the encouragement and rigorous instruction necessary. The mainstream response to these successes has been not emulation but attempts to shut them down or at least limit their growth.
Far from focusing on pathways to success, many public school systems are now promoting the notion that achievement itself is racist. Math instruction is considered to be biased against minorities because of its insistence on one right answer. “Show me your work“ is white. No, really.
Oregon and California are among states developing courses for teaching “equitable math instruction“. Worse, many public schools are starting to teach outright racial hate. Critical Race Theory has likely come to a school near you, without bothering to notify parents.
This is the notion that racism and slavery were the founding principles of America. White people alone are inherently, incurably racist. They must own their racism rather than deny it or advocate racial equality, which only proves their guilt.
We are facing an uncertain future if we continue to produce an uneducated, polarized citizenry. The ray of hope may lie with parents made newly aware during the Covid epidemic.
Reports are growing of concerned parent groups rising up around the country to protest the academic failings and intolerant teaching prevalent in our public schools. May their tribe increase.
Dr. Thomas Patterson, former Chairman of the Goldwater Institute, is a retired emergency physician. He served as an Arizona State senator for 10 years in the 1990s, and as Majority Leader from 93-96. He is the author of Arizona’s original charter schools bill.
Continuous learning, hybrid learning, and blended learning are terms utilized in defining teachers’ return to school by March 15. Online learning occurred between the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic and this period where teachers are required to return to school, to their designated classrooms. However, students are granted the option to participate in remote learning.
The opinions regarding the return to classrooms proposals vary, with some vehemently opposing it. For instance, teachers disagree with each other, citing the overplaying their hand in letting students suffer through distance learning. There are also lingering questions concerning teachers’ silence over time, with reasons such as a fear of retaliation and isolation being cited. Teachers point to the fear of their contracts not being renewed and the subsequent “blow back” from not engaging in group think. In my opinion, this is quite unbelievable because this is a free world. Teachers should be heard, and after this, a return-to-work framework that favors them should be put in place.
Those supporting returning to classrooms, especially parents, argue that the right to accessing proper education was violated through remote education. Furthermore, individual learning strategies were not adequately addressed, resulting in the plans becoming ineffective over time. This resulted in substantial learning disparities between students. My opinion, based on the above, is that the option of remote learning should not be granted to students since the learning plans may not work.
In conclusion, I concur that teaching is a calling. Therefore, the debate concerning returning to classrooms should involve heavy consultation with teachers to formulate an appropriate return-to-work strategy. This will require cooperation from teachers and parents, and will be vital through the start of the healing process. However, I oppose the idea that those viewing the task as hard should quit their jobs because we need everyone’s input for an adequate return to class strategy. Therefore, instead of them quitting, they should offer ideas to facilitate learning in a post-Covid world.
Catherine Barrett is an Arizona Governor’s Master Teacher and currently Chair of citizens initiative petition, A Classroom Code of Ethics For Public Schools K-12. You can find her on Twitter @ReadersLeadPD, and on Facebook at Yes4Ethics