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Karol Markowicz, a friend and columnist for the New York Post, often says, “Every minute that’s spent on politics is one fewer moment spent on math and reading.” Today I spoke with another mother so concerned about this phenomenon, she started a new bipartisan organization with a million-dollar ad buy nationally and in three key local markets to make this connection between politicized classrooms and negative educational outcomes crystal clear for parents. Alleigh Marre, the President of Free to Learn told me, “We’re sinking lower and lower in worldwide rankings. We’re seeing activism instead of achievement in schools. 82% of parents we polled said they don’t want politics in the classroom; 71% want core subjects instead of ideology. And of that 71%, 66% self-identified as liberal. People want their kids prepared for the future, independent of politics.”
One of the geographic areas, New York City, was targeted because of the goings-on at private schools like the Grace Church School in Manhattan, where the scope of the problems facing students and teachers there was exposed by former New York Times op-ed editor Bari Weiss’ essential Substack newsletter. A teacher at the time, Paul Rossi laid out the shocking situation in the private school, explaining “As a teacher, my first obligation is to my students. But right now, my school is asking me to embrace “antiracism” training and pedagogy that I believe is deeply harmful to them and to any person who seeks to nurture the virtues of curiosity, empathy and understanding.”
It’s a similar story playing out in Loudon County, Virginia, where the showdowns at local school board meetings have made national news. Instead of focusing on academics at the top-ranked schools in the country, expensive race-focused consultants are being hired and admissions requirements at rigorous public high schools dropped completely out of a concern for “fairness.”
But perhaps most shocking is the situation out of Peoria school district in Arizona, where this focus on politics and race hasn’t just supplanted a focus on academics, but the physical safety of students as well.
Free to Learn is starting with a strong ad buy, but they don’t want to leave their work there. Marre told me, “We hope to work with these communities and parents to make sure they have resources to advocate for what’s best for their kids.” Free to Learn joins a few other new organizations in this space; here’s hoping they succeed, our nation’s future depends on it.Published in