Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.
5 years ago there were 6.2 million students enrolled in public school. Now there are 5.8 million.
The Great Public School Exodus, as some are calling it, is transforming the educational system.
As the New York Times recently noted, “New York City, the nation’s largest school district has lost some 50,000 students over the past two years” while California lost a quarter of a million students.
The total loss of over a million students leaves public school enrollment at a historic low.
Even while trapped in a failed system, those kids still meant money in the bank for teachers’ unions and the leftist politicians funded by dirty money looted from property taxes. Now that they’re gone, both Democrats and unions want to bring back their property to keep the cash.
Democrats could try to win back the million students and their parents who fled a failing system. They could try to retune schools to better compete with private schools, charters, homeschooling, and other alternative options to the failed public school system.
Otherwise how are you gonna keep ‘em down on the farm now that they’re seen what a functioning educational system that puts math and science ahead of wokeness looks like?
In the face of parental revolts over efforts to bring graphic sex, racism, and sexual identity grooming into classrooms, Dems could give parents greater control over school curriculums.
Instead they’re trying to destroy any alternative to the system whose teachers fund their party.
Last week, minority parents protested outside the White House against Biden’s new war on charter schools. Even while the media eagerly covered every pro-abortion activist wearing a handmaid costume, 1,000 parents rallying at the White House received virtually no coverage.
Why are minority charter school parents upset?
The Biden administration’s assault on charter schools comes by way of rules which, much like the CDC’s school reopening regulations, were likely written with a great deal of input from the UFT and teachers’ unions, are meant to cut off alternatives to the failed public school system.
After attacking school choice and now charter schools, all that’s left is homeschooling, and educrats have been pushing for “reforms” to crack down or eliminate that option entirely.
Elizabeth Bartholet, the director of Harvard Law’s Child Advocacy Program, described the “homeschooling phenomenon” as a “threat” to society, claiming that conservative parents “homeschool because they want to isolate their children from ideas and values central to our democracy”, “promote racial segregation and female subservience”, and “question science”.
Her paper called for a “presumptive ban on homeschooling, with the burden on parents to demonstrate justification for permission to homeschool.” These views are not fringe.
Other leftist activists are targeting Christian and Jewish religious schools, often under the guise of front groups like the anti-Orthodox Yaffed. Under Cuomo and Bill de Blasio, New York’s Jewish and Catholic schools banded together to resist the leftist assault on their schools.
But the smears and efforts at regulation continue to be mainstreamed among Democrats.
Examples include the “Don’t Say God Bill” (or as its backers call it, Senate Bill S6423 or the Right to Learn Bill) by New York Senator Robert Jackson who boasts of being awarded the highest honor by the United Federation of Teachers which also targets religious schools.
Beyond the obsession with ideological indoctrination, it’s also about following the money.
Teachers’ unions remain a major contributor to Democrat candidates and to the Left’s activist machines, and their members are campaign foot soldiers whose loss would be devastating.
For example, the New York State United Teachers alone accounted for $5.8 million in 2016 spending. The American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association spent over $35 million in 2020. Beyond that they ran phone banks and got out the vote.
The vast political power bought by teachers’ unions allowed its members to keep schools shut down during the pandemic, destroying the education of an entire generation of students.
The Democrats only forced school reopenings when poll numbers turned catastrophically bad and Virginia turned red. But they still face the problem of over a million missing students.
Enrollment declines also mean that fewer teachers and schools will be needed. And while teachers’ unions routinely fight to minimize class sizes, not because they want to be better teachers, but because they seek to maximize their employment numbers, there’s only so many crooked contracts that can offset a decline of 50,000, let alone 250,000 students.
Unions and Democrats need those kids back in public schools. There’s a lot of money and power riding on it. Declining unions won’t have as much money to give to the Democrats. And fewer teachers will mean less activists manning phone banks or knocking on doors.
Biden is trying to put those escaped students back on the public school plantation where they will be taught nothing except racism and sex, but their bodies will be used to generate cash.
Over the pandemic, white public school enrollment dropped by 8%, while black enrollment only declined by 5%. While black students have fewer options, parents got out when they could. That’s why the Biden administration is going after charter schools, a popular alternative among black parents, and why its allied activists are hitting homeschooling and religious schools.
The common denominator here is getting escaped slaves back to the public school plantation.
Or, as the New York Times puts, “State education officials have appointed a task force to investigate the decline and to try to determine the whereabouts of unaccounted-for students and their reasons for leaving the public school system.” But the reasons are abundantly obvious.
New York took a 6% hit in enrollment, the highest in the country, with California in fourth place, while Florida, Texas and South Dakota had some of the best numbers.
The American Enterprise Institute found that mostly remote schools lost four times as many students as schools that remained mostly in-person. Remote learning was never about public safety, it was one of a million concessions to the corrupt quid-pro-quo influence of unions.
But this was the one that broke the public school system in the only way they care about.
Biden is going to war against parents who opted out of the public school plantation because he and his party desperately need every advantage that they can get in 2022 and 2024. Having already destroyed public education, they’re out to destroy private education too.