James H. "Smokey" Shott of Bluefield, Va.

Between 2000 and 2019 the student population in America’s public schools increased by 7.6 percent. The number of teachers increased by 8.7 percent. However, the population of district administrators nearly doubled, increasing by 87.6 percent.

This is a fundamental change in the public education system, a foundational change. When the foundation changes, what sits on that foundation also changes. This is certainly happening in public education.

Among these changes is a challenge to the age-old idea that the responsibility for and the raising of children belongs to the parents. They are the ones that created the child; paid for her/his food, clothing, and living quarters for years; and began the long, slow process of helping them grow and mature.

But now, in this age of administrative growth, the idea is that those involved in the process of teaching subjects like language, science, history, math, the arts, and other things, are really the ones who should teach kids everything, including those things that for centuries had been the domain of parents. This attitude is the basis for many of the problems of public education today.

And this attitude exists in spite of the fact that the taxes of citizens — most of whom have been, now are, or someday will be parents of school children — pay for the bulk of public education.

As parents have become aware that the education bureaucracy — which includes state agencies, school boards, administrators and teachers — is slowly and secretly controlling what is being presented to their children in school, they are correctly concerned and justifiably upset.

In Virginia, where much controversy exists over public education, it was recently discovered that administrators in three counties and 17 high schools had failed to notify their students that they qualified as National Merit scholars.

The National Merit Scholarship Program, administered by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, “is an academic competition for recognition and scholarships that began in 1955. Approximately 1.5 million high school students enter the program each year,” according to the organization’s Website.

Those who receive this honor have applied for it, and worked hard to earn the award. They set this high goal, and they achieved it. Those who receive the Merit award stand at the top of the student learning pyramid.

Yet, some Virginia education administrators, and likely some in other states, as well, decided not to notify these students in a timely manner. This in many cases denied the recipients the ability to include this information in their applications to the colleges where they hope to go to further their education, and cost them scholarship support.

And what is the reason for this unacceptable decision? The education authorities did not want to hurt the feelings of those students who did not earn the award, whether or not they even tried for it.

This is one example of what the dubious goal of creating “equity” in outcomes requires. The new “rule” is that a student may have out-performed all other students in the senior class, but it is not fair to the others for him or her to be recognized for that.

There are other unacceptable activities taking place in some American schools. There is strong evidence that some schools and school systems, such as in Chicago, Illinois, and Virginia are teaching Critical Race Theory (CRT). A simplified definition of CRT is that it classifies one race as oppressors and other races as oppressed, increasing division among races rather than continuing to bring all races together.

Gender fluidity is being taught in some schools in New York state. This encourages youngsters to question their gender and perhaps attempt to change it. Other topics regarding sexual activity are also being presented which, out of regard for using appropriate language, will not be named or described here.

The latter two topics are being presented to very young students, in elementary and middle school. These children are not old enough or mature enough to be presented these topics, or to make decisions about changing their gender. Furthermore, none of these topics are officially part of the approved curricula; they are being added under the table.

Writing in Hillsdale College’s publication, Imprimis, Hillsdale President Larry Arnn explains what he sees as the origin and purpose of these changes. “The process is dominated by ‘stakeholders’ — mostly people who have a financial or political interest in what is taught. They are mostly not teachers or scholars, but advocates. And so we adopt our textbooks, our lesson plans, and our state standardized tests with a view to future political outcomes once the kids grow up.”

Arnn blames these changes on the administrative state. Nationwide, he said, the administrative state has more than 20 million employees, most of whom are at the state level. They are in many areas of government, education among them. They make direct and indirect decisions on the economy, and those decisions affect everything, including educational direction.

The growth of administrative positions in public education was noted earlier. While teachers sometimes are active participants in these under-handed activities, the primary culprits are in administrative positions.

This has to be stopped.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist. Contact him at shottcommentary@gmail.com

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