Back-to-School Blues: Droves of Americans Ditching Public School

This summer, students aren’t the only ones dreading going back to the classroom. According to staggering enrollment data, parents appear to have had a case of back-to-school blues over public education since COVID-19’s onset in early 2020.

In the past two years, a mass exodus of over 1.2 million students has left the public school system as parents seek alternative education routes, such as public charter schools, private schools, and homeschooling.

In particular, major American cities have seen a notable decline in public school enrollment. For example, New York City is experiencing “massive hemorrhaging of students,” according to Mayor Eric Adams, the New York Post reports.

Having lost upward of 64,000 enrollments since the start of the pandemic, the city is forecasting the loss of an additional 30,000 students this upcoming fall semester. On the other hand, New York City charter school enrollment has seen an uptick.

Elsewhere in the country, Michigan is still 56,000 students shy of its pre-pandemic public school enrollment numbers. Orange County, Denver, Kansas City, and Chicago are just a few of the many more cities around the country realizing nose-diving numbers.

Through the pandemic and the transition from classrooms to virtual learning, many parents became disillusioned with their local public schools.

For some, they believed the school’s handling of the pandemic was unsatisfactory, due to lockdowns, which inconvenienced many families, as well as masking and vaccination policies. Others were unhappy after taking a closer look at their local public school curriculum and wanted more say in what their children were learning.

Loudoun County, Virginia, has been a prime example in the media over the past few years of local school boards pushing gender ideologysexualized reading materials, and critical race theory in classrooms. Many national headlines have followed parents pushing back on the Loudoun County School Board time and again in a struggle over children’s educations.

Meg Kilgannon, Family Research Council’s senior fellow for education studies, gave her take to The Washington Stand:

There are more and more challenges for public school systems across the country: teacher shortages, medical overreach, falling test scores, disciplinary issues, and even violence. Add to that the fact that parents rightly felt betrayed not only by prolonged closures in some regions, but also by overly political and sexual content in curricula.

Kilgannon outlined her analysis of why the drastic drop in public school enrollments:

Parents who engage at school board meetings demonstrate a version of protest; removing your children from public school altogether is another. Voting with your feet sends a powerful message. And we need to make sure that even though our kids might be gone, our voices and worldview are still represented in the system.

If not public school, where are Americans turning for education? Ginny Gentles, director of the Education Freedom Center at Independent Women’s Forum, explains the demand for education alternatives and school choice.

“When parents realized that government schools prioritized unions and activists over students, they chose other education options,” Gentles told The Washington Stand. “Public school enrollment is plummeting, especially in the urban areas that abandoned children during the pandemic. Parents are flocking to alternative options, with charter school enrollment increasing by 7%, Catholic school enrollment increasing by the largest amount in 50 years, and parents exploring an array of homeschool options.”

With midterms in the near future and the issue of school choice in the viewfinder for voting parents, many expect education to be a driving factor in upcoming elections.

The elections of Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, both Republicans, have shown that parents have concerns about what goes on in the classroom and they will vote accordingly. With declining public school enrollment and satisfaction, Americans are hitting the polls with their kids’ education at the forefront of their minds.

Originally published by The Washington Stand

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Everything Is Political—Even Star Wars, Apparently

Does watching a leftist activist dressed like an elf lecturing you about feminism for an hour sound like a good time? How about watching “Star Wars” dump on Donald Trump and the MAGA movement? If not, I’d recommend avoiding TV for a while.  

As much as it seems like parody, these are apparently plot points for two upcoming programs.  

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” and “Star Wars” spinoff “Andor” have both revealed they plan to revel in modern left-wing politics at the expense of good storytelling.  

During a recent appearance at San Diego Comic-Con, a yearly convention celebrating all things nerdy, one of the actresses from “Rings of Power” claimed her character on the show was an activist and that the show writers were giving her the opportunity to be a female character with agency. 

Nazanin Boniadi, who plays the character Bronwyn, is a prominent human rights activist focusing on women’s rights in Iran. She has previously advocated for expanding government action on LGBT issues and reauthorizing the contentious Violence Against Women Act.  

Boniadi told a group of gathered journalists at the convention, “What I love about the writers on this show is that they have given every woman on the show, every female character, such agency.” 

In a later interview with ShowBiz Junkies, Boniadi added, “I call Bronwyn the fantastical version of myself because she’s an activist; I’m an activist. She’s a healer, I was premed. We have so much in common.”  

Keep in mind that Boniadi’s character is in Middle-Earth, not 2022 San Francisco. Seems like she should be more concerned about orcs and Sauron than pushing radical feminism on TV.  

Then we have “Andor,” focusing on lead character Cassian Andor as played by Diego Luna. 

In addition to not being super creative (Andor is basically a cheap knockoff of Han Solo), the show is apparently going to be a Trump bash fest. 

Actress Fiona Shaw, who plays a character named Maarva on the show, raved in an interview with Empire magazine that writer/director Tony Gilroy “has written a great, scurrilous (take) on the Trumpian world.” 

Shaw adds, “Our world is exploding in different places right now, people’s rights are disappearing, and Andor reflects that. (In the show,) the Empire is taking over, and it feels like the same thing is happening in reality, too.” 

Wow, what a new and creative take! Donald Trump is, like, actually evil. And he’s basically Darth Vader.  

This is garbage, pure and simple. But it’s a frustratingly familiar type of garbage.  

Like a swarm of perpetually outraged locusts, the left devours cultural properties including “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings.” The end result is always desiccated husk, devoid of any of the charm that attracted people to the show or movie in the first place.  

Dogma replaces fun, and each piece of media regurgitates the same tired talking points.  

And when fans of the original property are rightfully angry that their shows are being hijacked to disseminate propaganda, they’re accused of gatekeeping or bigotry.  

But it’s not gatekeeping or bigoted to expect your show based on “The Lord of the Rings” to, you know, resemble “The Lord of the Rings.” 

On that point specifically, the “Rings of Power” team has blatantly demonstrated they couldn’t care less about Tolkien’s story and are only interested in wearing the property like a skin suit.  

Last month, Amazon fired preeminent Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey from his consulting gig on “Rings of Power,” reportedly for frequently telling the showrunners they were “polluting (Tolkien’s) lore.” 

Shippey isn’t some nobody. His book, “The Road to Middle-Earth,” is widely considered to be the definitive work on Tolkien and his written worlds.

The radical left doesn’t care about the lore; it’s window dressing to the main message, which is political zealotry wrapped in a thin veneer of pop culture.  

None of this is to say that there’s no place for politics in media. When done well, shows and movies can be elevated by tying their stories to political issues and reasoned social commentary.  

Back in the 80s and 90s, “Star Trek: The Next Generation” deftly handled political issues by weaving them into the narrative. The show never got preachy, though, and U.S.S. Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard was able to transmit a message or moral that resonated with viewers each week. 

But that’s not what modern shows are doing. Activists do not belong in “Lord of the Rings,” and attacks on Donald Trump definitely don’t belong in “Star Wars.”

The popular internet adage “go woke, go broke” hopefully applies here, and companies will realize that killing a property for leftist adulation is not a recipe for success.  

Middle-Earth and a galaxy far, far away are not the places to stand on your political soapbox. 

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