Live from Music Row Monday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed President of the Independent Women’s Forum Carrie Lukas to the newsmakers line to discuss her distrust in Virginia’s public school system.
Henry: On the line right now, we have Carrie Lukas. She’s the Vice President of the Independent Women’s Voice. I’ve also heard her say, The Independent Women’s Forum. She’s the go-to policy walk over there.
She’s got a BA from Princeton, a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and has been working in this area of public policy since 1997. She also joined the Cato Institute as a junior Social Security policy analyst.
She worked on Capitol Hill. She’s actually been a political analyst for the House Republican Policy Committee and written multiple books as well.
One entitled Liberty Is No War on Women. And wrote The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism. She’s a towering intellect and a tremendous voice in the conservative community. Thank you so much for joining us this morning.
Lukas: Thank you so much for having me.
Henry: Let me just start with this. I, unfortunately, don’t have time to go into everything that the Independent Women’s Voice is and what they cover. I would implore our audience to go to IWV.org. And check out everything they do.
Tremendous work over there as well. But let me start just by asking Carrie, what’s going on in the Virginia public school system? I want to say people draw it to just a single incident, but that’s not necessarily the case.
It seems like it’s a drumbeat, one thing after another, a long time coming. It’s a long train of abuses and usurpations if you will. (Chuckles) What’s going on over there?
Lukas: That’s such an important background to this, because I think that a lot of people can hear each individual story and say, is that really a big deal, or are you guys blowing that out of proportion? But I can tell you one thing, you’re very kind with the setup of my resume.
But one thing, I’m a mom of five. I’ve got five kids who are in Virginia public schools. So I really know this for this issue. I know more than anything firsthand. And like a lot of people, I really became much more attuned to what was going on in my public schools during COVID because my kids were kind of forced onto online school.
So we just started seeing what our kids are being taught. But a lot of people in the country had a similar experience, and we said, what is this? Why are we talking so much about race? Why is this the theme of not just a civics class or some part of history, but really is a weird drumbeat throughout every day.
And then, most recently, in the Virginia public schools, we’ve seen absolute instances of abuse and malfeasance from our school boards. This is what I think everybody’s hearing now about Loudon County and some of the actual what seemed like essentially criminal abuse of the process of not letting be honest with the public about safety issues in the schools.
We’ve also seen we’ve been focusing on some of what’s been going on in the library. You kind of expect there to be appropriate content. And in the case of Virginia, some of it is just absolutely not.
Henry: Let me ask you, you mentioned just a second ago about what’s going on in the public schools, and you wrote a piece over at IWV.org where you can find it immediately entitled, I’m a Virginia mom, and I don’t trust my local public schools.
I don’t trust my local public schools. What do you mean when you don’t trust them? You touched a little bit that right now. But are your children still in public schools?
Lukas: Yeah, they are. And one of the things that we talk broadly about public schools, it’s always hard. Some of my public school teachers are great, and I think they agree with me on a lot of these issues. A lot of them are doing the very best they can.
But I know in our public school system right now, they’re required to teach a lot of things. I’m well in my middle age now, and when I grew up, I knew my parents trusted that when they sent us to public school, that we were going to be taught by people who shared their values.
And you weren’t going to be using it to push a weird political agenda. Obviously, I’m a big conservative, but I don’t think schools should be pushing to conservative politics. I don’t think they should be pushing liberal politics.
I kind of trusted that they shared that kind of common sense, a political view for what public schools were for. I don’t believe that anymore.
I certainly don’t believe that when it comes to our school board, in our schools, especially at the high school level, they spend as much time, literally…my daughters have a class that is called Langley Lynx, and it’s kind of this vague thing.
It’s supposed to be mental health. But you get the same amount of time that as you do in math. And most of the time, it is used for really weird, CRTish, politically driven content. My kids share with me. They take screenshots of some of what’s going on.
That’s how I knew it was happening. What their Columbus Day curriculum was, which was not just like a balanced view of a historical figure from the past who clearly doesn’t share all the values we have today, but a really weird and political and historically ignorant depiction of a kind of colonialism and that history. It’s sad. It makes me sad to say that I don’t trust my public schools. But it’s the truth.
Henry: Carrie, about two or three years ago, across the United States, there was really only about seven or eight states that had considered legislation dealing with school choice, which is a strangely ambiguous term.
But everything from in their district open enrollment to educational saving account bills to do anything like that. That would just provide more choice for parents to educate their children in the way that best suits their needs. That was two years ago.
We only had about seven or eight States that did that as of last year. To my account, there were about 37 States that had considered legislation that would do something in that vein. Clearly, there is something going on here.
There’s a groundswell of emotion that wants to say maybe we need more choice in Virginia in particular. Do you see any of that? Is there any sense? Is that a solution you would consider possibly?
Lukas: Absolutely. And Virginia has been kind of bizarrely behind the times in school choice for a long time. I don’t think there’s any real charter schools in Virginia. They are certainly not something you hear about as a parent.
And that has been something that has been talked about quite a bit during the governor’s campaign, which is going on now. I do think that this is one where changes could be coming and I truly hope they are.
I would absolutely look into it for my younger kids because I would like to have more of a say. And one of the great things with school choices, it’s not just about leaving a school, it’s also having that threat.
Virginia is known for having great public schools. That’s why I chose to settle here with my kids. But now I feel like the schools are cocky. During COVID, our schools and all the private schools in the area, and we do have some fine private schools, mostly faith-based, all opened their doors last fall with masks and with separation and whatever.
But our public school stayed closed until, like late March. It was crazy. And it was so frustrating seeing all the kids whose parents are paying tuition. They’re all heading off to school in person and our kids are all sitting there.
I had a kindergartner sitting there. He’s supposed to be logging into a computer and learning something on that. It was torture. It was really just ridiculous. But our public schools could not have cared less about what they were doing to the kids.
The teachers just didn’t want to show up, even after they were all vaccinated. They did not care about their parents and it sent a message.
It’s going to be very hard to change that. A lot of parents out there recognized our schools do not feel like they work for kids or families. They’re just a jobs program for teachers.
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