Tuesday, January 31, 2023


“More than anyone else, parents know what their children need,” former President Donald Trump said in a message unveiling parts of his education platform for his 2024 campaign. “If any principal is not getting the job done, the parents should be able to vote to fire them and select someone who will.”

While some may pause or recoil at the notion that a school principal could be sent to the free cheese line via parental referendum, such a reaction is emotional and not logical. The fact is that a principal is a key figure in a child’s education, setting the policy that influences a child’s worldview and establishing the culture that molds a child.

Make no mistake: Public education in America is failing. From California to Connecticut, students are not proficient in reading and writing, while history courses have become cesspools of activism and science courses warn of global climate catastrophe.

While it is true that several issues plaguing public education — academic standards, curricula, most funding — exist at levels well beyond the reach of the principal’s office, there are several critical issues that are placed at the principal’s feet.

The principal establishes the culture of the school, the culture kids are exposed to for up to 180 days of the year. Children are impressionable and take notice of what is highlighted in their school.

Does the principal seek to create a culture of American exceptionalism, or does the principal seek to create a culture in which diversity and equity cloak anti-Americanism? Are principals respecting critical race theory laws, or are they trying to circumvent the rule of law (and the will of the parents) to push an agenda?

Accuracy in Media just went undercover and talked to scores of educators about teaching critical race theory even if a law banning it is in place. The response?

“You can pass a bill that you can’t teach critical race theory in a classroom, but if you didn’t cover programming or you didn’t cover extracurricular activities or anything like that, that message might still get out,” a top-ranking Ohio educator told AIM investigators on hidden camera video. Another educator quipped that schools just “trick [parents].”

If a principal is doing this, why shouldn’t the real boss (the parents, not the school board) be able to fire him or her?

Principals also set the tone for grading and expectations. In recent years, many principals have used equity to remove competition from the learning process, thus punishing White and Asian students while judging the abilities of minority students based solely on their skin color. Standards-based grading is Exhibit A.

If a principal pushes this agenda in a school, why shouldn’t the parents have a veto?

Finally, hiring is another key responsibility of a principal that affect both students and parents. What type of teacher is the principal bringing into the school? Is the teacher a classical educator, one who teaches students how to reach conclusions in lieu of drawing them for the students? Or is the principal hiring teachers who hang Black Lives Matter flags, cover their rooms in rainbows, and believe their mission is to mold the minds of students?

There is a reason in loco parentis is synonymous with education: Teachers spend a great deal of time with the children of other people. The principal dictates the quality of that time. As we have seen too often, principals either encourage (or ignore) teachers who assume the role of parent and undertake “teaching” methods that seek to instill values contrary to those of the parents.

Just look at some of the teachers principals have put in the classroom. Two teachers in Oklahoma are under investigation for alleging using the classroom to indoctrinate students. Parents in Ohio have sued Hillard City Schools, alleging that teachers would wear LGBTQ badges and ask students their pronouns.

Separately, a preschool teacher was recorded on video using a nonbinary doll to teach youngsters about sexuality.

This is not to say all teachers are bad, for the good far outnumber the bad. But if a principal has a track record of bringing in bad talent, creating a toxic culture, and producing mediocre results, shouldn’t that principal be held accountable?

If a coach can get fired for creating a lackluster team that produces lackluster results, why shouldn’t parents be able to hold a principal to the same standard?

• Joseph R. Murray II is a Tennessee middle school educator, civil rights attorney, and former speechwriter for Patrick Buchanan. He is the author of “Take Back Education.” He may be reached at jrm@joemurrayenterprises.com.

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