No, High Standards Aren’t a Tool to Indoctrinate Children with Political or Religious Ideology


Public schools’ commitment to rigorous education standards is simply a means to indoctrinate students with secular and progressive values, argues Sam Sorbo, a mother and homeschool advocate. Sorbo encourages families to explore homeschooling to avoid “bullying” by federal agencies and teachers unions. She adds that members of Congress have refused to address “the fundamental transformation of the nation.”

While the option of homeschool is every parent’s prerogative, most parents don’t have the time and resources to afford to remove their children from public schools. In fact, about 90 percent of students attend public schools. So it is imperative schools hold all students to rigorous academic expectations that prepare them for the challenges of college and careers.

Across the country, most states have renewed their commitment to high standards and high-quality assessments. With the exception of one state—Oklahoma—all forty-five states to initially adopt the Common Core continue to implement high standards, and most have begun to use assessments closely aligned to high, comparable expectations. That is a huge success for schools and for families.

Contrary to Sorbo’s claim, high classroom expectations are not a tool to indoctrinate students with certain ideologies. In fact, objective analyses have repeatedly rejected such accusations. High standards are meant to “better prepare students for college and careers, a 2013 PolitiFact study notes. “That is a far cry from attempting to instill particular religious or political beliefs.”

What’s more, the Every Student Succeeds Act ensures the federal government cannot interfere in state decision making when it comes to academic standards. The law expressly prohibits federal agencies from pressuring states to use any specific set of standards. Accordingly, if parents have concerns about the materials their students are using, they only need to go to their local school boards to address those, former Alabama Governor Bob Riley wrote previously.

Increasingly, myths and mischaracterizations have dominated the “debate” about high standards, former U.S. Education Secretary Bill Bennett wrote last year. But “the issue of honest standards of learning for our children is too important to be buried in an avalanche of misinformation and demonization.”