The Long History of the Radical Right’s Crusade to Destabilize Public Education

The Radical Right and the NRA are promoting the idea of arming teachers to prevent students and school personnel from dying in mass shootings, instead of decreasing the type of guns available for purchase. President Trump and the NRA

have even said that we need to “harden our schools”, and that any gun-free zone is a “soft target”.

The NRA never gives a good reason for allowing anyone to buy military-grade assault weapons. The only reason ever given by the NRA is the second amendment, but that is not a satisfactory reason, given that the weapons society wants limited are automatic weapons, not all guns. Automatic weapons are used in mass murders, not in hunting or sport, or the defense of oneself or one’s home.

So why does the NRA promote this vision of the United States as the Wild West, calling those who advocate for gun control liberals who want to outlaw the second amendment?

The Radical Right has a long history of trying to destabilize and defund public education, starting in the 1950s. Efforts to integrate the public schools in the South saw local groups, such as the Citizens’ Councils, resist federal orders on integration by allowing local communities to make public education an option, and in certain states, also allowed students to take their local taxes with them to the schools of their choice. Since then, the Radical Right has continued to promote these ideas in various forms such as charter schools, vouchers, tax-credit initiatives, and so-called “school choice”, the intent of which is to destabilize and defund public education, and in turn, teachers’ unions, which utilize collective bargaining to level the playing field in negotiations.

The latest proposal by the NRA and Trump, who accepted over thirty million dollars in campaign aid from the NRA, is another attempt to delegitimize the public school system. Parents do not want to send their children to a school that has been turned into a prison, with armed guards, armed teachers, and armed students. Teachers do not want to teach in a prison. Once our public schools are fully armed, parents with means will remove their children from the neighborhood public school and pay private tuition, or demand that they be able to take their tax dollars with them so their children can learn in a trusting environment. The Radical Right has always played the long game, waiting decades for the change they want by buying more and more politicians’ votes. The current proposition from the NRA, if enacted, will only hasten the end of quality public education and the end of collective bargaining and give the Radical Right even more control of our public education.

Submitted by: Nancy Turner, retired teacher and member of Indivisible Naperville