Republicans have made school choice the centerpiece of their education reform platform for decades, but as an investigation led by Breitbart News has revealed, school choice alone will not solve the problems facing our education system — namely, the problem of woke indoctrination.

For as long as memory serves, Republicans have advocated for “school choice” as a silver bullet for a vague problem of curricula plagued by leftist political indoctrination, declining academic standards, lack of parental involvement and access to curricula, as well as bloated bureaucracies and budgets in education. The pitch — a neat, two-dimensional talking point — has been something like, “Giving students and their families the ability to go to a charter or private school through government aid will allow them broader choice in education and create competition among schools.”

While that idea could have been plausible when it was conceived 20 years ago, fixing the woke indoctrination problem facing the education system now requires a much more nuanced and complex approach than tossing vouchers around and calling it a day.

Even if “school choice” were available to every parent in the country, it would still leave a giant vulnerability in the system that needs to be addressed.

The first problem is that the “school choice” position is hinged on the traditional assumption that private schools provide higher quality education than public schools, but that is increasingly not the case.

As Breitbart News has reported in the ongoing “Undercover Mothers” series, chronicling an in-depth look at the practices of elite private schools across the country, private schools are actually on par or worse off in many ways than public schools.

The private schools Breitbart News profiled in the Undercover Mothers series were the nation’s elite schools that were linked to a central bureaucracy — the National Association of Independent Schools — which accredits these private schools and provides training and guidance to teachers across the country, helps recruit heads of school across the country, and even has a hand in setting tuition rates across the country.

As Breitbart News uncovered, these NAIS private schools are just as dogmatic in woke ideology as their public counterparts — introducing children in Pre-K to transgender ideology, and Kindergarten to race-essentialist critical pedagogy — and parents have even less rights to push back on that culture in any way whatsoever.

In the Undercover Mothers series, Breitbart News reported that teachers in private schools are being taught how to talk to kids about “gender, and sexuality, and identity,” including how to talk to kids in Pre-K about “their bodies,” “penises and vaginas,” and “what they feel like inside, do they feel like a boy or a girl.”

The series also reported on private school teacher training lectures with titles such as “Cultivating Anti-Racists and Activists in Kindergarten,” “Decolonizing the Minds of Second Graders,” and “The White People Way,” instructing educators to adopt a race-essentialist and cultural Marxist curriculum for children as young as five years old.

Teachers in private schools are trained on how to dismiss parents’ questions or criticism of their instruction and box them out of curricula planning — dubbing pushback as “puritan speak” and making sure not to “lead [parents] to feel like they have a say in the process when they actually don’t.”

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - AUGUST 31: Pupils at Rosshall Academy wear face coverings as it becomes mandatory in corridors and communal areas on August 31, 2020 in Glasgow, Scotland. New rules starting today require children over 12 to wear face coverings in corridors and other communal areas in schools in Scotland. Face coverings are not mandatory in classrooms. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Private school parents do not have the rights parents in public schools enjoy — such as attending school board meetings to voice personal objection — and are actually contractually restricted from voicing any qualm whatsoever with school curricula or policy, publicly or privately.

Parents of children at private schools who spoke to Breitbart News had to be kept anonymous for real threat of retribution against them and their children for speaking out.

“[NAIS member] private schools across America are including provisions in enrollment contracts prohibiting them from ‘[voicing] strong disagreement’ with school policy or curricula, under threat of expulsion.”

The exact language in multiple school contracts reviewed by Breitbart News states parents are forbidden from engaging “in behavior, communications, or interactions off campus, that is disruptive, intimidating, overly aggressive, or reflects a loss of confidence in or disagreement with the School’s policies, methods of instruction, discipline.”

Whereas private schools used to each have individual profiles, the NAIS accreditation behemoth has created coordination and conformity among member schools.

One “Undercover Mother” speaking to Breitbart News called NAIS “the head of the snake,” as the accreditation association is a common thread linking private schools to one another and dictating the schools’ common policies, practices, personnel, and culture.

Most alarmingly, NAIS is responsible for providing private schools with radical race and gender policies.

A NAIS Trustee Handbook called Diversity Work in Independent Schools, reviewed by Breitbart News, provides tips for schools on how to work around federal laws prohibiting student admission based on race.

The manual says:

You need a justification for an admissions policy that includes considerations of race. A justification might include noting that diversity has ‘substantial’ benefits in your education environment, including preparing students to live in a diverse working world, breaking down stereotypes, and encouraging invigorating classroom discussion.

Of course, school choice advocates might dismiss the concerns of these Undercover Mothers because the NAIS schools represent the “one percent” of super elite private schools. These critics would correctly point out that there are thousands of other parochial or charter or faith-based schools that are not NAIS members. But that dismissal would be very short-sighted. The elite NAIS schools are the canary in the coal mine. The problems seen at these NAIS private schools will eventually occur at other private schools empowered by school choice initiatives. This is why school choice alone is not enough to solve the problems caused by woke indoctrination. What is happening at the Philip-Exeters of the world will eventually happen at the charter school near you.

Republicans do not need to abandon the school choice reform platform; however, if they want to get serious about addressing education in America, they need to grapple with the issues in education, which go far beyond “school choice” to address issues of woke indoctrination.

Specifically, they must be focused on three key pillars: (1) investigating and cracking down on unaccountable, cartel-like education bureaucracy, promoting the decentralization of schools, public and private; (2) investigating critical pedagogy as a violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act; and (3) barring schools from issuing unconscionable contracts that muzzle parents or otherwise remove them from school involvement.

The first pillar: The cartel-like education bureaucracy — in the private and public school spheres — is a central source of “woke” critical theory pedagogy training and materials and must be investigated for acting as a far-left political operation masquerading as an educational organization responsible for the well-being of children.

The state takes responsibility for setting standards for education — and these organizations being used as hubs for political indoctrination and grooming of children ought to not be out of the state’s purview to be disbanded altogether if an investigation finds that they are harmful to children or undermining their education.

The second pillar: Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, according to the Department of Justice, “prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.”

Schools — public and private, to a greater or lesser degree — receive federal dollars while instituting blatant discrimination practices on the basis of race and implementing curricula teaching race-essentialist ideology. Republicans ought to launch a Church Commission-like investigation into the ways in which racist ideology and practice are being used in schools across the nation and revoke any and all government funds from those schools until they can prove these methods have been completely removed from instruction.

The third pillar: Republicans on both the state and federal level ought to conduct an investigation into the ways parents are exploited in school contracts — being barred from access to their children’s curricula and critical information, such as their child’s preferred gender, in school, and from voicing any objection to school policy or practice. The likely outcome of such an investigation would be that school contracts are regarded as “unconscionable contracts” and, therefore, unenforceable. In that event, lawmakers should create a mechanism for parents to challenge unconscionable contracts in court without the threat of retaliation and expulsion.

Republicans can win on this issue, but they have to govern — they can look to Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis for inspiration on how to do this.

DeSantis’s Stop Woke Act in Florida, if directed to cover private schools as well as public schools, would alleviate many of the concerns confronting the Undercover Mothers at the NAIS private schools.

Conservative lawmakers, if they are willing to update their thinking on the education issue, have the potential to garner huge swaths of new voters and really improve public schools and private schools alike.

Republicans do not have to abandon school choice reform. But school choice alone will not fix the problem of education in America; in fact, it could exacerbate the problem by expanding the number of private schools and empowering an unaccountable woke industrial complex within those schools, without providing a means for parents to reign in these excesses.

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