Politics Might Be Downstream From Culture But Everything is Downstream From K-12 Education

Imagine you’re barreling down the highway and an accident happens a few feet in front of you. Your ability to respond and avoid a collision is very limited. You’ll probably have very few choices—and it may be that none of them are good.

Now imagine the same scenario but this time the accident happens hundreds of feet in front of you. Now your ability to respond—and the choices available—are more plentiful.

Politics is kind of like this too. There are the here-and-now activities and battles, and the far longer-term preparation—of both plans and people’s minds.

The here-and-now battles offer limited options. The longer-term offers many more choices for shaping people’s thoughts. And since the longer-term sooner or later becomes the here-and-now, success in the longer-term actions will sooner or later significantly impact success in the here-and-now. In many ways the war can be won—or lost like it is now—before it even begins.

Conservatives face the same reality and after their pitiful showing in the midterms it is clear they need to extend their planning horizons. Far too much effort and precious resources are spent on the here-and-now and we can see how that has worked out for the past hundred years or so. 

Even when we “win” it only slows the tide.

We have effectively abandoned the long-term—specifically public K-12 education and the 50 million young minds that are shaped by it—and then we are surprised when the here-and-now offers us few chances for success. It is far easier to help instill the truth in young minds than it is to try to change the minds of adults—every marketer shilling for things from toothpaste to beer knows this reality.

So, we must seriously address the issue of public K-12. First the bad news: the public K-12 system is in reality hundreds of systems. In total they consume around half of every single state’s spending. There are vested interests built upon vested interests ad nauseum.

There is no way to change “it” since “it” doesn’t really exist. Any type of top-down, directed change is destined to fail. And from a big-picture perspective, the school choice movement has been a dismal failure. The leviathan and those layered vested interests have never and will never allow this to succeed in any significant fashion. Ain’t happening. And the past few decades prove this beyond any doubt.

Sadly, many in the school choice movement don’t really want to make significant changes but simply want to replace who is running things. This might be positive but it is not nearly enough.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t run for school board or do any other thing that has a chance of improving the present situation but these kinds of changes, by themselves, won’t be enough.

This multi-pieced leviathan is incapable of change in any reasonable period of time—and continuing to lose multiple generations of children is simply not an option. A free country can’t survive this output indefinitely.

But now the good news. There is a ripeness to the moment—and right now seems very ripe. Now is the time to act, perhaps in ways never before considered. 

And for this we need Republican donors and all who value freedom and liberty—are you listening, billionaires who talk about giving your fortunes away?—to put their money where their mouths are.

Continuing the present system design where a respected organization opens a single school, one at a time, greatly limits the impact we can have. It is time consuming and impacts only a tiny slice of the market.

A far better design is one in which we offer scholarships to individuals to attend any school that uses a good curriculum which we can define. At the beginning of this process, we’ll probably have a lottery system as demand is certain to far exceed ability to fund. This will be a good thing as it will show the general public the tremendous unmet need and prepare their thinking for someday making this the model for all public K-12 funding.

As for the schools, they probably don’t exist yet. But they will. 

It’s not if you build it they will come, but rather if we fund it, they will leap from the ground.

We let others create the schools—hundreds and hundreds of them—and all we do is provide the scholarship funding. $10,000 per student should get the job done. 

Perhaps a single teacher wants to start a school? Great! Perhaps five or 10 teachers want to get together and form one? Super! Perhaps a handful of freedom-loving citizens with an interest in bettering the world will step to the plate? Wonderful! Perhaps they do this to make money? Magnificent!

I don’t claim to know every possible solution but I know the system that will find them and that is the freedom of the marketplace. We design a system to let a thousand flowers bloom.

In addition, we build a small staff to review and accredit potential schools—obviously there needs to be some sort of quality control. 

We don’t do this in just the inner-cities but we do this everywhere. We want every citizen to hear about these schools. We want every citizen to see the incredible demand our lotteries uncover. We want every citizen to hear about the incredible successes these schools and our curriculum provides.

In this way we can prepare the politics to support changing K-12 funding . . . from one of funding the school establishment to one of funding children. Right now, this has little chance of becoming reality—and thus we must prove the superior nature of this design by at first doing it ourselves. 

Once we have accomplished this, the $15,000 plus spent per child per year in public K-12 will become available to all parents and we can fold up shop. Until then, we need to take charge and get this going. Today. Right now. And for that we need money.

The future of our country truly does rest on this success. The present output of public K-12 is driving the destruction of the freest, wealthiest, most tolerant country the world has ever seen. We can’t stand idly by and do nothing.

This model can be exported around the globe. The only hope for many countries is to create a wave of freedom, rule of law, equal justice under the law, etc. via their children’s education. Everyone can’t simply immigrate here—their countries must be fixed and education is the only possible means of doing so.

Fighting in the here-and-now is of course a requirement but the long term is where the war is won—and it is won or lost with the children. Please step to the plate and help us win what is truly an existential war for our way of life. 

About John Conlin

John Conlin is an expert in organizational design and change. He holds a BS in Earth Sciences and an MBA, and is the founder and President of E.I.C. Enterprises, a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to spreading the truth here and around the world, primarily through K-12 education. He has been published in American Greatness, The Federalist, The Daily Caller, American Thinker, Houston Chronicle, Denver Post, and Public Square Magazine among others.

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

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