Freelance author and high school teacher Daniel Buck backed Americans’ right to school choice while pointing out that the “countless stories of K-12 schools succumbing to and endorsing the excesses of progressive ideology” reveal a serious educational issue in an op-ed published Wednesday.
Progressive ideology in schools has made headlines recently as some schools embrace progressive ideas like critical race theory.
A New York City high school teacher, Paul Rossi, was recently relieved of his duties after criticizing the “indoctrination” occurring in the Grace Church School where he works, saying his “school is asking me to embrace ‘antiracism’ training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to [students].”
“These stories do expose a problem, but it’s not the political progressivism of most teachers,” Buck wrote in National Review. “It’s akin to shining a light on and fixing individual cases of water damage while ignoring the flooding all around.”
“We must address the broken faucet; in this case, the universities that are pumping out progressive educational theory,” he added.
Buck broke down the “two broad iterations” that progressive education breaks into, the first being built on “child-centric philosophies” where schools “observe and suggest” in place of transmitting “the best of any culture or shape the character of their students.”
The second is critical pedagogy, which Buck dubbed “propaganda attempting to pass as instruction” and revealed was the “foundation” of his training as a teacher in college.
“Thankfully, this endeavor needn’t only be one of individual persuasion,” wrote Buck. “There are policies that can decentralize the university’s influence and pressure the adoption of effective pedagogy.”
Buck suggested removing “teacher licensure” from being “solely the domain of the university” and pointed out that “a former business owner with a few classes in pedagogy would make a useful addition to any school building, even without a degree.”
“Second, and perhaps more importantly, in the past 20 years, countless charter schools such as Michaela School and even entire systems such as Uncommon Schools boast incredible academic success despite working with predominantly poor and minority students,” wrote Buck.
“To do so, they reject progressive theories of education and instead rely upon classic literature, clear behavioral expectations, and direct instruction,” he continued, adding that charter schools “become the best argument” against universities’ progressive theories as they “continue to expand in number.”
Buck said words “can be persuasive” but change comes when a school’s bottom dollar is threatened because schools will continue to operate under “mediocrity” if they still receive government funding.
“Conversely, school choice is a policy that ties funding to student attendance instead of property taxes; if a student moves, the funding follows,” wrote Buck. “Under such a system, if a parent saw progressive politics trying to pass as instruction or a school’s pedagogy left their students illiterate, parents could take their child and their money elsewhere.”