Typically, school choice advocates rely on school and student performance data to show that public schools are academically failing or underperforming compared to other schooling options.
But as I have documented in my soon-to-be-released book, The Corrupt Classroom, parents in California and many other states have an even more-compelling reason than academic performance to demand school choice – classroom politicization.
As we have seen recently in the San Francisco Bay Area and nationwide, there have been several violent protests attacking free speech on school campuses. However, the ideological inspiration for these protests may surprise you.
So who are the leaders of the violent left-wing extremists who recently attacked free-speech advocates in Berkeley? Perhaps some secretive anarchist cabal? Try public school teachers.
Meet Yvette Felarca, a teacher at Martin Luther King Middle School in Berkeley. She is also the leader of the radical By Any Means Necessary organization, which the San Jose Mercury News described “as a ‘militant’ group that uses a variety of tactics, including violence, to spread its message.”
According to the Daily Californian, Felarca was part of the anti-free-speech, leftist counter-protest that stated, on its Facebook page, its goal of shutting down the Free Speech Rally before it began.
“We’re here to take a stand,” Felarca said, “against the whole Trump administration.” Felarca was also a leader in a previous protest in February at UC Berkeley that devolved into violence.
As CNN reported at the time, “The violent protesters tore down metal barriers, set fires near the campus bookstore and damaged the construction site of a new dorm.” Many people were injured by this rampaging mob.
In June 2016, Felarca reportedly shoved a man to the ground at a demonstration in Sacramento. The brawl resulted in seven people being stabbed. Felarca told the Mercury News, that the First Amendment should not protect speech with which she disagrees and that she labels “hate speech.”
Even parents in ultraliberal Berkeley were appalled by Felarca’s actions. Many took to social media to complain that, according to the Mercury News, “her violent, in-your-face message has no place in the classroom, especially at a school named after an activist who preached for social change through nonviolence.”
“A person like that should not be an educator,” said Cindy Berck, a mother of a Berkeley student. “It crosses the line in terms of modeling behavior.”
Yet, despite the outcry from parents, the Berkeley school district refused to address Felarca’s violent radical activities.
What is worrisome is that teachers across the country are being schooled to be ideological warriors in the classroom.
A popular textbook at teacher colleges around the country is The Critical Pedagogy Reader, which promotes the ideas of Brazilian Marxist education theorist Paulo Freire.
The book openly states: “One of Freire’s most important contributions to education or any form of cultural action for socialism and to Marxism itself, stems from his understanding of Marx’s theory of consciousness.”
The widely promoted social-justice teaching methods in public schools are, according to education professor and curriculum expert Sandra Stotsky, based on the theories of Freire, and “seek to develop their students’ political understandings and attitudes – hostility or resentment in students belonging to social groups to be considered ‘non-dominant,’ and guilt in students who are perceived as members of ‘dominant’ groups.”
The victims of all this propagandizing are America’s children. Instead of receiving a rigorous, neutral and balanced academic education in a nurturing environment, many are receiving ideological indoctrination instead. Most parents do not want their children to be exposed to the extreme ideology of teachers like Felarca, especially when they are in a captive setting in the classroom. That’s why it is so important that every parent has the right to send their child to the school of their choice.
If school districts insist on foisting politicized teachers and curricula on students, then parents should have school-choice tools, such as vouchers, tax credits or education savings accounts, to exit government schools for the private sector.
No child should be forced to endure the political propaganda of teachers like Yvette Felarca in the classroom.
Lance Izumi is Koret senior fellow in education studies and senior director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute. He is the author of the forthcoming book “The Corrupt Classroom: Bias, Indoctrination, Violence, Social Engineering and Other Classroom Horrors.”