After years of the left controlling education, the November elections showed the sleeping giant in Colorado and across the country is now awake. No longer will parents sit on the sidelines while leftist teachers and their school board allies push a racially divisive curriculum on students. Parents across the country made it clear — they should control the education of their children. In fact, it is their right and responsibility to direct the education and upbringing of their children.
In a perfect world, the public school system is duty bound to empower parents and implement curriculum and ideals they support. All too often, however, public schools directly contradict the expressed wishes of parents and the communities they serve. Recently, far left teachers unions have increasingly pushed their woke ideology on students. Teachers have prioritized critical race theory and radical gender theory, instead of math, science, reading and writing.
The last meaningful report on student progress in Colorado, the 2019 Colorado Measures of Student Success showed a public education system where 50% of the students at every grade level were lacked proficiency in reading and math. A 50/50 result is a mark of failure for any enterprise. Performing at 50% would result in failure of a business or the loss of one’s job. As a community, we must demand better than failing results for something as critically important as the academic abilities of our children.
Luckily, the past election cycle has changed the narrative around education. Dozens of new school board members, who are focused on putting the needs of our children first, were elected across the state of Colorado. Voters showed they were concerned with the failures of virtual learning and are tired of a racially divisive school curriculum. Through their votes, parents reinstated one of the fundamental purposes of schools — to educate and not indoctrinate students. Coloradans are once more expecting schools to be the glue for communities, working to create more positive mental health outcomes and a safer society.
When schools focus on academic achievement, not dividing a population based on one’s race or supposed gender, they can better utilize their limited resources. With new financial burdens, it is imperative that schools return to the basics. By eliminating failed social and emotional learning programs, and diversity offices that serve as indoctrination centers, we can continue to increase pay for our hardworking teachers. This will allow expanded administrative costs to be constrained once again.
As lawmakers, it is imperative that we follow the will of parents. We must continue to work at the state and federal levels to empower parents who choose to enroll their students in public schools. It is our commitment to support the golden triangle of education: enthusiastic students, engaged parents and exceptional teachers. We must ensure that what is being taught to our children advances their education. We must prioritize the skills our children need to be successful: reading, writing, math, and science.
We must continue to call for transparency and honesty in public schools. We must protect the privacy of students in the classroom. We must ensure school districts proactively communicate to parents the books being taught, the allocation of budgetary funds and every incident in the district where a student’s safety is put at risk. Finally, we must hold school teachers and districts to a higher standard.
Schools cannot be allowed to return to repositories for radical ideology. After all, the students in public schools today will shape our future, and the curricula they study will shape them. In the end, it is the responsibility of parents to understand and direct the education of their children. Our public schools must support them in their effort.
Paul Lundeen is a member of the Colorado State Senate, representing District 9. Doug Lamborn is the representative for Colorado’s 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.