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Where Do Parents Go When Public Schools Go ‘Woke’?

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As a father of young children, I have been shocked by the rapid growth and impact of gender ideology within our society, reaching human resource departments in practically every major corporation and recalibrating the relationship between parents, children, and public schools, both in the realm of curriculum and in policy.

This new ideology is now being transformed into an omnipresent worldview. From my standpoint, as a dad and a practicing Catholic, the threat of the public school system taking this radical turn in the realm of sex education is tremendously worrisome. To be honest, I see it as a risk of subjecting my children to a kind of abuse if I were to send them to public school and be exposed to these ideologies uncritically.

This leaves me and my wife with no other choice but to explore options outside of the traditional public school system. Parochial schools would be great, but the long-term feasibility of being able to afford it for multiple children through high school seems unattainable. Taking the financial gamble to pay for Catholic school tuition would be risky for our family.

There is, however, another gamble we were willing to take—the lottery of charter schooling. We were lucky enough to have our oldest child accepted into a classical academy that assures a healthy diversity, one grounded in a common effort of pursuing an education that does not shy away from the context of Western civilization—its history and thought.

I want my children to have exposure to a variety of races, cultures, ethnicities, and religions, and it is my hope that the school will stay true to its charge of fostering real dialogue in accord with logical principles. In this space, real conversation and intercultural sharing can take place. Cooperation, discovery, reflection, and empathy can be the mode of discourse rather than class conflict.  This is still a possibility in America!

Though not Catholic, these schools provide an well-rounded education free of propaganda I can feel comfortable sending my children to. If the school can help by enriching the soil of my children’s minds through a study of history, science, math, and literature, by an honest look at literary classics, and by exercising critical thought, I can do my part to assure their religious upbringing, one that includes a philosophical and theological context for understanding our human nature, including our sexuality.

Though charter schooling has so much promise for many parents like our family, it is not open to everyone. The demand far outstrips the supply. Additionally, there is a concerted effort to annihilate charter schools by Democratic lawmakers in Texas. Assuming charter schools survive, their value statements are under attack as a rigorous campaign is waged against their enterprise.

It is a remarkable moment in the history of America that a sincere Catholic parent must grope for educational options to assure that what is taught is not diametrically opposed to the fundamental values that he takes as his charge to instill in his children. Parents who live their lives according to religious principles should be able to find a school in which they are welcomed, not attacked or undermined. Catholics and other religious believers see a public school system that is out to erode their ethical principles and need real choices, no matter what their background or income level.


Edgerton Essays are a project of American Compass and the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and feature the perspectives of working-class Americans on the challenges facing their communities and families and the debates central to the nation’s politics. If you or someone you know might be interested in contributing to the series, click here for more information.

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Joshua Clemmons works as a Pastoral Associate at Christ the King Catholic Church in Dallas. He lives in Dallas with his wife, Sarah, and their two sons, and is probably a little too inclined toward discussions pertaining to religion and politics.   

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