Conservatives in the United States have long considered public schools as little more than liberal indoctrination camps. As the country rapidly secularized in the aftermath of the sixties, schools echoed the gathering rebellion against order, propriety and common decency. Politics is downstream from culture, but so too, is education. It takes very little effort to deduce that the civilizational breakdown seen all around us in America has also wrecked our public school classrooms.
Teachers once strove to educate their charges, conveying objective facts about mathematics, science and history while instilling in them a love for great literature and art. Now teachers are essentially wardens for a wayward generation and ad hoc psychiatrists tasked with validating the emotional subjectivity of coddled solipsists. Alas, education was long universally acknowledged as a public good. Now, conservatives understand that “education” has become a menace to society.
And yet, one wonders whether even the most pessimistic cultural critic is aware of just how bad things have gotten in our public schools. After just a few pages of Mary Rice Hasson and Theresa Farnan’s fine new book, Get Out Now: Why You Should Pull Your Child from Public School Before It’s Too Late, readers will come out convinced. Those with even a modicum of concern for American children will surely agree with the authors that taxpayer-funded education has devolved into an abusive regime of lies, distortions, and full-scale social re-engineering, all designed to twist young minds (and hearts and souls) into the unreflective “citizens” required by the militantly secular mega-state. As Hasson and Farnan write:
Public education has been incredibly successful in one area: churning out youthful progressives—growing numbers of men and women in the grips of existential confusion, perpetual victimhood, and political intolerance. Our children’s shift toward progressivism begins well before college. The system takes full advantage of their most formative years in early elementary school, and the indoctrination continues through high school. Thanks to America’s public schools, they show up to college already prepped and ready to play on the progressive team.
The degree to which the public schools have fallen into the intellectual and spiritual dead end of liberalism is one great concern. However, it is not just a matter of degree. Hasson and Farnan see the public schools as unreformable because of a very specific change in liberal ideology: gender theory. They write:
We believe that the damaging ideology now deeply embedded in America’s public schools has made public education an untenable choice for any child. The game changer is public education’s appalling surrender to the gender revolution. Immersing impressionable children in an imaginary world—sanctioned by authoritative adults—that pretends boys can become girls, girls can become boys, and some children will be neither or both is a serious distortion of reality. It is already inflicting incalculable damage on our children and teens—not just on the vulnerable children suffering from identity confusion but on all the rest who are forced to speak and live the lie, fed bogus ‘science,’ silenced in the name of ‘tolerance,’ and marginalized by institutional practices that favor transgender claims above all else. The gender revolution has conquered the public schools and rules them tyrannically.
Hasson and Farnan do not just complain about this abuse; they document it. In page after page of endnoted and exhaustively researched text, the authors introduce a variety of cases and incidents across the country, which reveals the extent to which the public schools have been hijacked by gender activists and their witting, and unwitting, minions.
Schools are “held hostage” by the gender ideologues, Hasson and Farnan tell us, and parents are virtually powerless to protect their children from the incalculable harm of hearing and witnessing flagrant abuses of the truth about human nature. Indeed, parents who attempt to shield their sons and daughters from the onslaughts of the gender warriors are swiftly branded as bigots. Anyone seeking compromise with the genderists who now run the education system will be shut out and ostracized. As the authors bluntly warn us, “There is no ‘safe space’ from gender ideology in the public schools.”
Mary Rice Hasson and Theresa Farnan are eminently qualified to speak about the collapse of public education in America. Both women are highly educated. Hasson is a lawyer and a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, and Farnan is a philosopher who teaches at seminaries and universities. Both women are also mothers. Armed with the insights into the Faith that they received from their own families and educational milieux, Hasson and Farnan have dared to put their children first in diagnosing the perils of public schools and counseling other parents to remove their sons and daughters from such a toxic environment.
The question remains: What next? The short-term answer must be homeschooling. Even charter schools are problematic since they are still public schools. Parents seeking refuge in charter schools have often been hounded out by the same progressive activists who have taken over other taxpayer-funded institutions.
Parents who homeschool make enormous sacrifices—of careers, money and time, just to name a few. However, study after study and anecdote after anecdote reaffirm that homeschooled children are happier, healthier, politer, and, yes, much smarter than their counterparts in government-run re-education yards. For those who are now raising a family, homeschooling is the only viable option for truly educating a child while protecting him or her from the psychological torment and spiritual damage of liberalism in all of its destructive forms.
The longer-term answer, however, goes far beyond education. As John Horvat lays out in his book, Return to Order, the real solution to America’s woes is a rediscovery of Christian morality in society, an openness to God’s Providence and an abiding love of neighbor. These elements with the Grace of the Holy Ghost will overcome the “frenetic intemperance” (Horvat’s term) of our days, and the culture’s “destructive nihilism” (from the schema of Eugene Rose). Homeschooling is a great way to thwart frenetic intemperance locally, but on a national scale, there must be a conversion of culture. That will only come from a conversion of the nation’s heart.
Get Out Now is a must-read for anyone with children, or who cares about the fate of our country. The problem we face is grave. Mary Rice Hasson and Theresa Farnan have amply documented it. It is now up to us to take their advice—get out of dying liberal culture, and envision a new, and much better, future for our beloved country.