Parents taking on the Leviathan
17th-century theorist Thomas Hobbes argued that members of any distinct society must subject themselves to an absolute sovereign as the only way to preserve their own lives and security. His book, “Leviathan,” reflected the political world view of the age. Proving him wrong was a small group of Puritans who established a tiny colony near what is now Plymouth, Massachusetts.
The term Leviathan as used today in political discourse simply means a large, oppressive government or force, much like the Old Testament monster from which it derives its name. And even though the United States is based on the anti-Hobbesian theory of consent of the governed, there remain large forces that demand submission from citizens.
One of those large forces is the education establishment found both at the state and federal level. Large bureaucracies backed by powerful labor organizations have a vice-like grip on how our children are taught and what they are taught.
But things may be changing. The election earlier this month, more than anything, demonstrated that parents are angrily rejecting the education Leviathan. Republican Glenn Youngkin artfully deflected Terry McAuliffe’s claim that he was a Trump clone. And most pundits believe the deciding factor in the race was McAuliffe’s gaffe saying parents shouldn’t have a say in what their kids are taught. McAuliffe’s terminal case of political tone-deafness is replicated here in California, where the California Teachers Association and its affiliated local branches are increasingly viewed negatively by voters across the political spectrum.
As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the head of the United Teachers of Los Angeles, Cecily Myart-Cruz, claimed that there is “no such thing as learning loss” for students who were forced into remote learning during the pandemic, saying the children learned “survival” and “the difference between a riot and a protest.”
The arrogance revealed by Myart-Cruz might explain why the Los Angeles Unified School District has seen its steepest enrollment decline in 20 years, dropping by more than 27,000 students. Disaffected parents are discovering that, while escaping the Leviathan isn’t easy and sometimes requires sacrifice, the benefits to their children are worth the cost. Charter schools, private schools and homeschooling options have exploded throughout the state.
Moreover, the resistance against the Leviathan is increasingly organized. The Parents Union in California (unlike the PTA, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the unions) is actively changing the establishment from within by electing pro-parent representatives to local school boards.
Also working within the establishment to achieve more accountability and better educational outcomes for students is the California Teachers Empowerment Network (CTEN), headed by Larry Sand, a retired teacher himself and a longtime critic of wasteful spending, incompetent teachers, and ideologically driven curricula.
These combined forces in favor of educational reform are tapping into the anger expressed by parents, many of whom were unaware of how bad things were during the pandemic.
An explosive story from Northern California involved an advanced placement government teacher, Gabriel Gipe, who, not knowing he was being recorded, stated, “I have 180 days to turn [students] into revolutionaries … Scare the f— out of them.”
Parents want their children to receive a good education so that they may become productive citizens with life skills that will serve them for their entire lives. They do not want unbalanced far left political indoctrination.
Jon Coupal is president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.