California School Choice recently held an event advocating a momentous change in education at the proudly patriotic Riley’s Farm Oak Glen, which is in the Inland Empire. Riley’s Farm has replicated our Colonial era with demonstrations of daily activities and Revolutionary battle recreations, all on a U-Pick apple farm. Its Hogshead Inn is a great place to have a hot chicken pot pie and finish with a slice of freshly baked apple pie (don’t forget a scoop of ice cream). Farmer Jim Riley hosted California School Choice at the homestead’s apple packing shed, which is now used for special events and theatrical productions and serves delicious barbecue chicken and tri-tips.
The purpose of the event was to explain the horrendous things happening in our public schools and offer the solution of school choice. Recent reports from the U.S. Department of Education and our own California Department of Education have outlined dramatic underperformance in math, reading and writing scores for K-12 students at both the local and national level. Missing in these reports is the rewriting of history books to conform with Marxist ideology, indoctrination rather than education and explicit, age-inappropriate sex education and techniques for alternate lifestyles. It has been reported that if your adult, male next-door neighbor was to show the textbooks and explain the contents to your 12-year-old daughter, he would be arrested and required to register as a sex offender. Yes, it is that bad.
The keynote speaker was Rebecca Friedrichs, author of “Standing Up to Goliath.” In her book, drawn from her thirty years of experience as a schoolteacher in Orange County, she outlines the primary reason for the failures in public education. She makes it clear that the enemy of K-12 education is not the teachers. Overwhelmingly, our teachers are dedicated professionals who deeply care about their charges. The enemy is not charter schools, private schools or home schools. In fact, they exist and are in place to temper the influence of the real enemy. Of course, the biggest victim of the enemy is our children, closely followed by the public schools that suffer from the enemy’s dark influence.
According to Rebecca Friedrichs, the real enemy is the leftist-progressive public teachers unions, with their Marxist worldview. This could be expanded to include most public employee unions. Her assessment is based on a lifetime of experience and observation and can be corroborated by the individuals and institutions that have found themselves in disagreement with leftist unions. The union’s influence is powerful and insidious. It is the union dues that fund the campaigns for our state’s elected officials, who, in exchange for the money, carry out the will of the unions and ignore the liberty and best interests of the people. State bureaucrats, supposedly appointed by our legislature to carry out the will of the people, are often union members themselves who carry out a socialist agenda, both in the textbooks they approve for use by our public schools and in the education methodologies that the school districts are expected to enforce. Rebecca carried her fight to a draw in the Supreme Court and eventually achieved in the Janus decision the right of public employees not to join the unions. Social pressures have prevented most from exercising their new rights.
The school choice initiative gives power back to the parents and forces schools to compete for our educational dollars. Schools will be forced to drop social agendas and focus on improving student performance. If they do not, they will cease to exist and will have to make room for successful programs.