The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

"Don’t Say Gay” and Anti-CRT Bills:
The Latest Attacks on Public Education

Apr 25, 2022

The state of Florida recently passed laws enforcing what can and cannot be presented in its public schools. One is the so-called “don’t say gay” law that is loosely worded enough to ban discussions of sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity in elementary schools—and maybe up through high schools. Another bans any teaching of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) in public schools—meaning, in effect, any discussion of race and the history of racism in the U.S.

Florida is not the only state passing such laws restricting what can be said in the classroom. At least a dozen states across the country have passed or are pushing to enact some version of “don’t say gay” or anti-"CRT” bills.

These bills go beyond simply stifling what can be said and discussed in the classroom. They all position parents against teachers by citing “parental rights” and referring to the “dangerous indoctrination” pushed on their children by the Public School systems.

These bills attack the very idea of public education itself. Some pundits and politicians have come right out and said it. Christopher Rufo, a right-wing blogger who got onto Fox News, stated in a speech that "to get universal school choice you really need to operate from a premise of universal public school distrust." Part of the right-wing works to undermine confidence in public education altogether, so that they can more successfully push vouchers and other means to take money away from public schools and give it to private and religious schools. They want to dismantle the public school systems across the country.

And in fact, it’s not just the right-wing that has been attacking public schools. Both the George W. Bush and the Obama administrations attacked teachers and schools in different ways that amounted to the same thing—withhold funds and get that money into private hands: charter schools, schools of choice, corporations. Both Democrats and Republicans have been attacking public schools because the capitalist class has been salivating over all that public money for decades. To them, it’s wasted if they are not making profit from it or if it’s not diverted for other uses. And both parties defend the bosses’ interest.

The Republicans and the right-wing are willing to stoke a culture war to bring out votes in the elections. Democrats say nice things about diversity and inclusion. Both attack the public schools and look to divert funds away from public education for working class children.

There is a lot that is wrong with public education in capitalist society. But one thing that is NOT wrong is the fact that the schools ARE public—and free to all, stating an intent to give at least a basic education to all children in their districts.

These politicians are leading the population backwards in their attacks on public education. Working class people need to move forward and create a society that truly guarantees a good education for every child in this society.