School indoctrination vs. A free marketplace of ideas


 

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"Education is becoming increasingly centralized. The federal government taking over a much greater and unconstitutional role in education. It makes it much more difficult when you have much more centralization of curriculum and of what happens in schools." — Kerry McDonald, author, "A" is for Abundance
 

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Curt interviews Kerry McDonald, author of the new children's book, A is for Abundance: The ABCs of Capitalism (book illustrated by Gabriel Valles.)


"When then-President Trump announced his 1776 Project and mandatory patriotic education in public schools across the country, I wrote an article for FEE (the Foundation for Economic Education) that said, if you don't want to Biden 1619 commission, you should oppose Trump's 1776 commission," said McDonald. "In both cases, they are unconstitutional. The federal government has no role in education. It should be a state and local issue. And at the local level, parents can infiltrate school boards and influence school policies and curriculum. And if their community thinks that A is for Activists is the best book and there shouldn't be A is for Abundance, fine. And on the flip side, that would work too."


Kerry is a Senior Education Fellow at the Foundation for Economic Education, an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute, and a frequent Forbes contributor. She also authored, Unschooled: Raising Curious, Well-Educated Children Outside the Conventional Classroom.


"The more that we can offer parents who want to provide a different perspective, particularly if their children are in schools that are not in any way providing another perspective, then that we feel is a good thing," said McDonald.


She added that, to the extent we have "government-run schools," she thinks there should be a "balance of ideas" in schools, but that here "issue is with government-run schools more broadly."


"I would love to see completely privatized education market like we have in other areas of our lives. For example, we don't have government run grocery stores and eating and food are certainly basic needs and we have food stamps and other sorts of voucher programs for people in need," she added. "And I see the same process working with education. That would sort of be my primary answer to that. And then let the private sector decide what kinds of books and materials they want in their schools. And then families will be able to choose from among that assortment."



FULL TRANSCRIPT OF THIS EPISODE:


Curt:

You mentioned the teaching of collectivism in our schools. And there's a couple ways I could go with this. I guess let's start with there's a lot of things that people see as indoctrination going on in schools, from what you mentioned, the "A is for Activist," collectivism. Certainly in the news, people are very upset about critical race theory being taught, et cetera. But on the same token, I'm with you that there's a lot of "freedom loving people" who want maybe so thing on the other side. What was it? The 1789 project? Is that what it was called?

Kerry:

1776 project.

Curt:

Yeah, I guess that would make sense.

Kerry:

The antidote to the 1619 and interestingly the "1619 Project," which of course was the New York Times initiative that has an associated curriculum that's very anti-capitalist embedded in the curriculum materials and in the articles of that project as well. I'm all for a marketplace of ideas. I love that "A is for Activists" exists and books similar to that. And there are a whole host of them that are in, again, public libraries, public schools across the country, but there seems to be a dearth of resources for celebrating capitalism and celebrating individualism and individual liberty. And so that's what we wanted to do with this book. And I will say the gold standard and the real leader in this area is certainly Connor Boyack and the Tuttle Twin book series that are just phenomenal. The more that we can offer parents who want to provide a different perspective, particularly if their children are in schools that are not in any way providing another perspective, then that we feel is a good thing.

Curt:

Yeah. And we had Connor on back in 2020, I believe. I had the pleasure of meeting Jen on his team who markets Tuttle Twins. I went and spoke at SPN in September, down in Florida, and so got to meet her and we have all those books, actually, not all of them because they keep coming out with them, but those books are aimed and there's a lot of other resources out there, but probably eight years old, nine, 10, and above, your book is certainly aimed at a younger. It's like a bedtime story book for what preschoolers, toddlers is that the age you have in mind for it?

Kerry:

Well, I will say that Connor is always expanding his resources and he does have a series of board books now for younger children. That's wonderful. Yeah. I would say certainly adults could read this book to children of all ages and certainly they'd want to help them understand the concepts because there's a lot of economics in there and there's a lot of talk about free markets. I think that they would want to be able to kind of guide their children through that. But in terms of reading level for children, yeah, I think we're looking at the maybe four to eight, four to nine range. Yeah.

Curt:

Yeah. Back real quick to the discussion of the free marketplace of ideas in schools. And certainly you're a homeschooling advocate, home education, self education, unschooling, whatever you want to call it as we are. Do you feel that, for instance, "A is for Abundance" and there's "A is for Activist," do you think books like that should be pushed by, I'll call them, authority figures, teachers, government, whatever? You have a seven year old, a five year old whatever, and a teacher is, they're impressionable. That's part of your programming. Do you think not only "A for Activist," but the "1619 Project," all that, does "A is for Abundance" as well as those have a place in schools or is it better kept as a parental free marketplace of ideas? Does that make sense?

Kerry:

Yeah. I guess my issue is with government run schools more broadly, I would love to see completely privatized education market like we have in other areas of our lives. For example, we don't have government run grocery stores and eating and food are certainly basic needs and we have food stamps and other sorts of voucher programs for people in need. And I see the same process working with education. That would sort of be my primary answer to that. And then let the private sector decide what kinds of books and materials they want in their schools. And then families will be able to choose from among that assortment. To the extent that we have government run schools, I think it would be ideal to say that we have a balance of ideas in these schools.

Kerry:

But I think to the extent there that these schools can really be managed on the local level, which is less and less the case. Education is becoming increasingly centralized. The federal government taking over a much greater and unconstitutional role in education. It makes it much more difficult when you have much more centralization of curriculum and of what happens in schools. And back to the 1776 versus "1619 Project." When then President Trump announced his 1776 Project and mandatory patriotic education in public schools across the country, I wrote an article for FEE that said, if you don't want to Biden 1619 commission, you should oppose Trump's 1776 commission. In both cases, they are unconstitutional. The federal government has no role in education. It should be a state and local issue. And at the local level, parents can infiltrate school boards and influence school policies and curriculum. And if their community thinks that "A is for Activists" is the best book and there shouldn't be "A is for Abundance," fine. And on the flip side, that would work too.

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