Will America's Educrats Pass the Midterm Exam?

Marina Ziemnick

CounterCurrent: Week of 11/6

After months of hearing political commentators and Twitter know-it-alls talk nonstop about the midterms, Election Day is finally here. Thanks to early and absentee voting, many Americans have already cast their ballots in this year’s pivotal local, state, and federal elections, with the rest taking to the poll booth throughout the day. (Let this serve as your not-so-subtle reminder to go vote if you haven’t already!)

The outcome of the federal elections will determine which party controls the House and the Senate, which will in turn affect the Biden administration’s ability to accomplish its legislative agenda over the next two years. In recent speeches, President Biden has characterized the elections as a referendum on democracy itself, declaring that “democracy is on the ballot this year” and urging voters to vote accordingly (wink, wink). But these philosophical concerns about the “future of democracy” don’t erase the more practical issues that drive voters to the ballot box again and again, most notably the economy and education.

In this week’s featured article, Minding the Campus columnist Wenyuan Wu suggests that a revolt at the polls may be coming—but not the kind that Biden seems to expect. The most important battle at the ballot box is not between the so-called defenders of democracy and the hammer-wielding conspiracy theorists. According to Wu, the Americans who are most motivated to make their voices heard on Election Day are the “concerned parents and fed-up citizens” who have watched ideologues and technocrats run the American economy and education system into the ground for the past two years. We’ll know by tomorrow, but it’s looking like their frustrations could lead to election results that “help tilt the balance of power away from woke educrats, challenge harmful policies in both K–12 and higher education, and restore the American public’s confidence in our education system.”

The Biden administration has enacted its most corrosive education policies through the executive branch, such as the ongoing attempt to redefine “sex” in Title IX to include gender identity and the radical politicization of Education Department grant-funding requirements for history and civics programs. But a more politically balanced legislature could significantly limit the administration’s ability to push these sorts of policies through. Wu explains,

Congress, without a partisan majority rubber-stamping federal regulations, could more effectively scrutinize woke education mandates through a robust congressional review process. A likely shakeup in the Senate could also facilitate revisions to the current regulatory approval process by reviving legislation like S.68, which would establish mechanisms for congressional disapproval regarding major and minor executive rules.

A Senate shakeup could also result in key higher education reform bills gaining more traction, not to mention renewed opposition to the codification of critical race theory and action civics through the Civics Secures Democracy Act:

With more political balance, the Senate would be poised to rigorously review legislative proposals pertaining to education. The Parents’ Bill of Rights Act (S.3218), introduced by Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO), and other similar legislation to promote parental consent and school accountability, could receive renewed attention. Bills to increase academic and fiscal transparency in higher education, such as Senator Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA) College Transparency Act, would be pursued with more enthusiasm. A conservative majority in the Senate could also interrupt the legislative push to spend billions in federal funding on woke K–12 civics and history education through the Civics Secures Democracy Act.

Democracy may not be on the ballot, but there’s still a lot on the line this election. So head to the polls if you haven’t already—and then grab some popcorn and head to the couch to watch as the drama unfolds throughout the evening. Whatever the results, 2022’s local and federal elections are worth your attention.

Until next week.

P. S. NAS’s Oregon affiliate issued its first political cartoon last week as part of a new visual media initiative. The cartoon, titled “School Choice,” responds to current debates in K–12 education that pit advocates of parental rights and educational results against radical teacher-activists who have come to dominate many public school systems. It depicts students entering a school that is divided into a classical and a radical-activist side. The classical side is festooned with the American, state, and city flags, and the teachers are dressed professionally, welcoming the students into a safe and rigorous environment. The radical-activist side is flying the flags of Black Lives Matter, Gay Pride, and Anti-fa, and the teachers are a mishmash of a hippy, a black radical, a well-meaning white liberal, and a transgender person with obscene prosthetic breasts. “School choice should not mean having to flee the public system,” Oregon affiliate president Bruce Gilley remarked of the cartoon. Click here to see for yourself.

CounterCurrent is the National Association of Scholars’ weekly newsletter, written by Communications Associate Marina Ziemnick. To subscribe, update your email preferences here.

Image: Element5 Digital, Public Domain

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