This blog has argued that the growing assaults on material in public schools and public libraries are part of a Christian nationalist trend to keep children as ignorant as possible. Now, a politician in North Carolina has provided even more evidence.
In a forthcoming memoir, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson argues that elementary schools shouldn’t teach science and history. Robinson asserts that those topics can be saved for later grades and says elementary schools should focus strictly on reading, writing and math.
“In those grades, we don’t need to be teaching social studies,” he writes “We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to be talking about equity and social justice.”
Robinson would toss aside the natural curiosity of children – how many kids do you know who are happy to talk about their favorite dinosaur? – in favor of a regimented, by-rote system of learning based on just a few subjects. Under his system, there would be no science fairs, no robotics clubs, no field trips to local science or history museums.
If you think that sounds like a surefire way to squelch kids’ natural impulse to learn, you’re right. (And it also doesn’t make sense. Robinson wants emphasis on reading. Education professionals agree that one way to get kids hooked on reading is by giving them interesting books. But under Robinson’s scheme, tomes on science and history would presumably be removed from the curriculum.)
Elsewhere in the memoir, Robinson gives up the game: He just wants public schools to go away. He advocates private school vouchers and other forms of privatization, writing, “We might see a mass exodus from the public schools entirely, and before you know it, traditional public schools might be a thing of the past.”
So, now we know what’s really going on. The attempt to dumb-down public schools is part of a privatization boondoggle. Robinson and his Christian nationalist allies may try to pose as advocates of bold change, but they’re really just agents of chaos and destruction. By denying children access to information and turning public education into mind-numbing memorization factories, they hope to make the system as unattractive as possible and drive parents away.
An America devoid of public schools has been the dream of Christian nationalists and their allies in the “privatize everything” camp for years. They hope to hand secondary education over to a patchwork of discriminatory fundamentalist academies that don’t value critical thinking and/or cut-to-the-bone private academies that prioritize investor profit over children learning.
It’s a cynical gambit. Let’s hope that the 90% of American families who rely on public education have something to say about it.