An answer to E Pluribus Unum on the 9-8-09 speech...

First, I’d like to congratulate EPU on a very thought-provoking diary entry which can be found here.

His basic gist is that the decision for President Obama to hold a rather creepy teleprompter communion beamed into our nation’s schools next Wednesday, surrounded by even creepier peripheral pronouncements by the president’s lickspittles using his speech as a pretext for having teachers ask students questions like “what they can do to help the president,” is a massive overreach which will have the effect of focusing the Tea Party groundswell into the previously-ignored political backwater of local school boards – where Nationa Education Association stooges and assorted left-wing hacks have long presided over fiscal incompetence, a dumbing-down of curriculum and sagging performance (not to mention abjectly putrid return on investment).

I am of several minds on this, though I do share, in general, EPU’s optimism that something can be gained from Obama’s grasp at America’s kinder. Admittedly, I have a more esoteric perspective on the potential for Obama to attempt to indoctrinate schoolchildren – I don’t have kids of my own, and if I did I’d sooner deliver pizzas at three in the morning on Tuesday nights to earn the requisite income than subject them to the vagaries of the Soviet-style government schools we’ve crafted in this country. My children will be in private schools come hell or high water, and as such I would worry less about having them be Obamanized by fiat of penny-ante politicians on the local School Board.

So under the circumstances I’m not possessed of a visceral reaction to Obama’s attempts to proselytize our public-school youth. I love the anger and passion it’s obviously creating, and whatever tools may be used to beat back this administration and its truly evil machinations on a host of fronts I am in full support of using.

Tactically, though, rather than the present reaction I’d prefer to see Patriotic America hold its fire until Obama actually made the mistake of saying something actionable – and then lay into him with everything we have. At that point you’d have the kind of raw visual evidence on your side to nail him to the wall on what he said rather than emanations and penumbras, and what’s more your attacks would only magnify when the administration sends Robert Gibbs out to moronically spin a molehill into a mountain. As this thing is currently playing out, though, the bar is being set so low for Obama that if he just offers up regular “stay in school” boilerplate, the parents and citizens objecting to his attempts to address the nation’s schoolchildren are going to be depicted as paranoids or – inevitably – “racists” by the Dinosaur Media.

Certainly this “how can you help the President” business was worth objecting to, and having the administration crawfish on their Komsomol curriculum surrounding the speech is a victory well won regardless of what happens. I’m concerned, though, that the current uproar will end up as a conservative overreach which allows Obama to appear more reasonable.

That said, if this controversy attracts conservatives into the educational debate and the Tea Party movement is to open a new front with respect to American education, I can live with a small PR defeat. But unlike EPU’s vision of a conservative tide washing over school boards across the fruited plain, I would hope such a movement would be focused on a much more advanced result.

There are a host of educational issues near and dear to the conservative movement in which while the majority of Americans agree with the Right’s position it is nevertheless portrayed in the media as bigoted, intolerant, theocratic or whatever other adjective you’d like to use. School prayer is a good example. A fight to reclaim education at the local level based on the current construct is bound to energize the Left and create the media narrative of “right-wing terrorists creating Hitler youth among our kids.”

My suggestion, if in fact the Obama indoctrination gambit creates momentum to address the educational system, is to aim higher. It is simply not enough to attempt to sweep out the middling political hacks in charge of local school boards. The very concept of a local school board should be anathematic to true conservatives, because school boards are still a mechanism for centralizing political control over education at a local level. This is not something conservatives, whose philosophy demands as much individual choice as possible, should satisfy themselves with – particularly when the results in American taxpayer-funded schools are so manifestly unacceptable.

No. Rather, the goal should be a complete destruction of the school-board system in this country. Instead, conservatives and American exceptionalists must insist on breaking the educational system down to the individual school itself, and to allow parents the option to choose between any school they want – public or private. I’m talking about a voucher system, obviously, but it shouldn’t be couched in those terms. The change must be positioned as a move to a “free-market educational system,” in which all parents can choose whatever school they wish for their children.

In such a system, issues like prayer in schools or corporal punishment or athletics-vs-academics or Afrocentric-vs-Eurocentric are no longer political questions. They become market questions. And the issue of education becomes decentralized to the point where the Left, which has had such a stranglehold on the educational system in recent years, must now adapt to the preferences of the educational consumer – and they are signally unprepared to do this.

Slugging it out at the school board level is certainly necessary, but it’s not sufficient. Conservative control of school boards is fine, but without a fundamental change to a market-based system in education whatever progress may be made as a result of Obama’s mistakes will be lost with the next backlash against Denny Hastert Republicanism, either at the local, state or national level.