While many Republicans across the country have spent the last few years arguing that public schools are being used to indoctrinate kids into leftist viewpoints and that politics should kept out of schools, US Sen. Tim Scott suggests conservatives should get their own political philosophies into those spaces.
“Protecting our kids and encouraging our kids to take a look at the conservative [agenda]—I call it the ‘Great Opportunity Party,'” Scott said at his Van Meter event on Wednesday.
For a candidate whose presidential platform has focused on education—and criticism of public schools—the way that Scott’s has, Van Meter was the perfect place to deliver that message.
Located about 20 miles southwest of Des Moines, Van Meter has seen its acclaimed public school system get thrown smack dab in the middle of a national right-wing culture war being used to discredit and defund public education.
The Des Moines Register reported last year that some conservative Van Meter parents circulated a petition titled “Back to the Basics: Preserving The Integrity of Van Meter Schools,” that accused teachers and administrators of flooding the curriculum with “gender ideology” and “critical race theory.” Van Meter officials later dismissed the petition and refuted the claims.
One of the people pushing those accusations was Van Meter resident and activist Oliver Bardwell, who also hosts “The Freedom Factor,” a right-wing podcast. Bardwell was a regular at the Iowa Capitol during the legislative session and often spoke in favor of some of the most controversial anti-LGBTQ and anti-public education bills that were passed.
At Scott’s Van Meter stop on Wednesday, Bardwell falsely told the presidential hopeful that schools were teaching kids that America is racist and confusing them about their identity. He then asked Scott how he can turn that around and win over younger Americans who tend to skew toward the left.
Scott told him one of the most important things that can be done is exposing kids to conservative voices. For the last decade or so, Scott said he has spoken at high schools and colleges up to 11 times a year.
“We need to show up where we are not invited as conservatives,” Scott said. “I have yet to lose an economic argument on a college campus or in high school because they have not heard of conservatism.”
Scott’s second suggestion to combat these false allegations was his “Empower Parents” platform. The education section of this platform seeks to eliminate equity, break “the backs of teachers’ unions,” create a nationwide school voucher system, and more.
“Part of that is a parents’ bill of rights where parents have the ability to pick and choose the electives. If you want your kids to not be taught gender issues, good. They don’t have to take that class,” Scott said.
It should be noted that most middle and high school students can pick their schedules and parents have been able to opt their kids out of certain electives for so long that “The Simpsons” made a joke about it in 1992.
As he has done at other Iowa campaign stops, Scott praised Gov. Kim Reynolds’ voucher bill, which, at last estimate, will divert $142 million in taxpayer dollars towards K-12 private school tuition in its first year alone.
Reynolds’ voucher program has an unlimited line item in the state budget and will be implemented over three years. There are some income restrictions in the first two years, but by the third year, any Iowa K-12 student, regardless of their family’s income, will be able to apply and receive $7,598 annually to help with tuition costs.
“When a parent has a choice, a kid has a great chance for life,” Scott said.
Scott is co-chair of the Congressional School Choice Caucus, an organization that includes members of the US House and Senate that wants to allocate federal dollars from public schools to charter schools, homeschooling families, private schools, and more.
Going back to his point on how conservatives can appeal to the youth, Scott said “Kids have a nose for nonsense”
“They want to be educated and not indoctrinated,” he said. “We have to get back to ABC and not CRT if we want it to actually happen.”
Reminder: Schools have not stopped teaching kids the ABCs and critical race theory (CRT) is a more than 40-year-old graduate school-level concept that Republicans have falsely claimed public school educators are using to indoctrinate children into Marxist beliefs.
by Ty Rushing
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