It is back-to-school time for students across America, which means that it also a time for parents to be aware of the signs that schools may not be providing the quality of education they want for their children.
Here are the top five warning signs for which parents should be on the look out.
Low student performance. Parents, of course, should be aware of whether their children’s school is improving their knowledge and achievement.
Too many schools fail to get students up to proficient levels in the core subjects.
On the latest National Assessment for Educational Progress exam, two-thirds of U.S. eighth-grade public-school students failed to reach proficiency in math and reading.
Middle-class parents should not be complacent, since more than half of non-low-income students failed to achieve proficiency in either math or reading.
Safety and discipline. Ask parents and most will say that their children’s safety is a top priority, which is justified given data showing significant safety issues on public school campuses.
A federal report found that during 2015-16, “79 percent of public schools recorded that one or more incidents of violence, theft, or other crimes had taken place, amounting to 1.4 million crimes.”
Yet, the Obama administration pushed school districts to repeal tough discipline policies that might have a disparate impact on minority students, even if those policies had no discriminatory intent.
In fact, research shows that prior student behavior, not race, is the key factor explaining why students are suspended.
Although the Trump administration repealed this Obama anti-discipline guidance, many school districts continue to implement lax discipline policies, so parents need to find out whether schools are promoting safety for all or political correctness.
Curriculum and indoctrination. In too many schools, education is morphing into ideological indoctrination.
In California, for example, a proposed ethnic studies curriculum lists capitalism as one key source of “power and oppression.”
The curriculum urges educators and students to connect “to past and contemporary resistance movements that struggle for social justice on the global and local levels” and imagine “new possibilities for post-imperial life.”
Students, therefore, are to be turned into ideological revolutionaries.
This call for more leftist indoctrination is not limited to California.
American Federation of Teachers union boss Randi Weingarten has urged “more civics participation” by students, which includes “the fight for social justice.”
District unresponsiveness. When parents see things they don’t like, they want schools to be responsive to their concerns.
Sadly, many school districts could not care less what parents want.
In New York City, ultra-liberal Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza has pushed changes to the admissions system for the city’s elite public schools that the city department of education admits will cut Asian-American enrollment by half.
Asian-American parents are understandably outraged, not only about the policy, but about the secretive process under which the policy is rolling out.
Recently, Carranza held a closed-door “community chat” on the policy change that was not listed on his schedule, closed to the press, and not open to most Asian parents, many of whom came out to protest the off-limits meeting.
Yifeng Chen, a member of a local community education council, said, “There are a lot of Asians in my area,” and yet “no Asian members of our CEC were in this meeting.”
Teacher unions using parents and children as pawns. Finally, teacher unions often use children as pawns in their quest for more money and power and for their fight to limit the school choices for parents.
The union-driven Red for Ed teachers movement has pushed strikes and protests, claiming these actions will benefit students.
However, the National Education Association, the country’s largest teachers union, voted down an internal motion to “re-dedicate itself to the pursuit of increased student learning in every public school in America” and to “make student learning the priority of the Association.”
Further, in strikes from West Virginia to California, unions focused on limiting the right of parents to choose different schooling options, especially charter schools, that best meet the needs of their children.
Thus, parents be forewarned — your children may not only receive a bad education, they can become pawns and victims of leftist ideologues and special interests.
Lance Izumi is senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute and author of the new book, “Choosing Diversity: How Charter Schools Promote Diverse Learning Models and Meet the Diverse Needs of Parents and Children.”