The liberal Atlantic Monthly asks this question. It does not come up with the right answer.
The winners may write history, but it’s up to others to teach it. Ultimately, educators—not academic researchers, think tanks, or politicians—are the ones who decide daily how to explore topics such as race and slavery in their high-school classrooms.
The key word is their.
Why is it theirs?
Who granted this authority to them? On what basis?
The issue, in the author’s view — as in most people’s views — is this: Who should control the textbooks’ content?
This raises other questions. Who should control the hiring and firing of teachers? Who should fund the latest educational fad? Who should determine when a fad is over?
The answerer is clear to me: parents.
This answer is unacceptable in academia. It is unacceptable in state legislatures. There, the battle is over tax funding: Whose taxes will be used to support whose view of the past (and everything else).
The political winners hope they will.
The teachers’ union hopes it will.
The Department of Education hopes it will.
Each textbook publisher hopes it will.
Parents have long since given up. They have no clout. They have not had any clout since about 1837. Why not? Because they decided long ago that someone else should pay for their children’s education. At that point, they surrendered any legal or moral claim over the content of the public schools’ education.
Once you advocate using a badge and a gun to compel support of the educational system, you have surrendered sovereignty to the State. Education is then about winning control over the badge and the gun.
Education is then about capturing the public schools. This is a war for the hearts and minds of the next generation of voters.
I suggest a bumper sticker: Parent-controlled education. This goes on the left-hand side of the bumper.
On the right-hand side goes this: Parent-funded education.
Radical, aren’t they?
That’s not what Atlantic Monthly has in mind.
But it’s what the Ron Paul Curriculum has in mind.