It is no surprise that the Republican Party of Iowa supports political indoctrination of school children. What is surprising is how far they go to assert their point of view. They want a free market education where public schools teach in a way consistent with their political viewpoint. That idea runs contrary to Iowa values.
Republicans demand, “…that education be returned to a purely free market system.” This begs the question of whether education is a service, like hiring an accountant, having a septic tank cleaned out or getting a car wash, and whether it is subject to market influences.
Where I live, people who graduated from a one room school house continue to live in the community and talk about their experiences. One of the challenges of Iowa’s educational system is we haven’t moved far enough out of the one room school house framework where the choice was to stay on the farm or go to school. Yet this is the free market system to which Republicans want to return. They would go backwards on education by liberating home schools from government interference with their perceived liberties, and enabling children of school age to stay home and receive their education from parents without regulation.
They want what is described as government, private, alternate and home schooling options on the table, and on a level playing field, presumably competing for students. At the same time, they seek a system of school vouchers in which public education funds would be diverted to non-government educational systems. These ideas may be popular among a subset of Republicans but they stand in stark contrast with Iowa’s long history of education, and are discriminatory against mainstream views.
Republicans have a specific political agenda for schools that asserts personal liberty over what normally is considered the primary purpose of education, preparing children to live in society. What they appear to want is a reversion to tribal society, where the family patriarchs and matriarchs dominate the culture and the main focus of family life is having children, raising them and socializing with neighbors and relatives. Iowans can and should be tolerant of minority views.
At the same time, the notion of such blatant political indoctrination in public schools, as is reflected in the Republican Party of Iowa platform, is repugnant. It reflects a misunderstanding of culture in society that only a sound education can cure. With this view toward education, Republicans demonstrate they are only concerned about “what’s in it for me” and not what is better for society.
What is the antidote? Vote Democratic on Nov. 6.