From this educator, a modest proposal for privatized Kansas schools

February 8, 2023 3:33 am
Liz Meitl

Liz Meitl testifies Feb. 6, 2023, before the House K-12 Education Budget Committee regarding legislation that would create vouchers for unregulated, unaccreddited private schools. GOP education proposals could allow for schools to turn into indoctrination mills, Meitl writes. (Kansas Reflector screen capture from Kansas Legislature YouTube channel)

Two years ago I wrote an opinion piece for the Kansas Reflector in which I argued that the Legislature should be celebrating Kansas public schools, rather than trying to tear them apart through voucher plans.

In the two years since, the fight has been ongoing, with no break in the Legislature’s efforts to destroy public education. This year’s session has brought us a tidal wave of proposed legislation that would divert hundreds of millions of dollars from public schools to private schools.

The legislation has shifted, though. Now it’s not just for low-income students, or for already established private schools.

The new legislation allows any kid to access the funds, and it allows anybody to set up a school. And so I have had an entirely serious change of heart. I am in no way taking a ridiculous idea to its logical extreme, so just put that out of your mind right now.

Let me explain.

Bills in the House and Senate that would allow families to use state money to send their kids to private schools — specifically House Bill 2218 — represent an enormous opportunity for Kansas educators. This legislation will allow Kansas to be a beacon to the rest of the country. Just as the world watched on Aug. 2nd as Kansans defeated the anti-choice agenda, the world can now watch as our liberal, woke educators are freed from the bonds of bureaucratic oversight and local, state and federal regulations.

Other educators, like me, will jump at the chance to open our own micro-schools and enact our own curricular agendas. We will be able to recruit the students we want to teach. We will no longer be asked to serve all students equitably, but instead we can create small, insular communities of learners, focused on the topics we feel are most valuable.

This is an enormous opportunity for all Kansas teachers who are tired of being subject to democratically elected school boards’ rules and out-of-touch federal lawmakers’ regulations.

When I think about opening my own school, I can’t help but be thrilled at the potential freedom. I will have the opportunity to teach English classes rooted in critical race theory. I know many legislators think we teach CRT now, but really there is so much oversight and collaboration that I am hamstrung and forced to teach lessons based on “pedagogical research” and “student data.”

This legislation will allow me to teach what many of the conservatives assumed I most want to teach: a leftist agenda focused on my Marxist, atheist ideology.

I can create a social studies class anchored in the history of white people as oppressors and colonizers. I can develop a rich, interdisciplinary course of study in which we study the benefits of recreational marijuana and psilocybin, and we can take scientific field trips to grow houses and dispensaries. My math classes will focus on the benefits of a socialist economy, and I will do my best to cultivate highly educated, intrinsically motivated radicals.

Further, work with my students will be based on a feelings-first curriculum. Their social and emotional well-being will drive instruction. I recognize legislators’ intent, that parents need to choose educational environments, so I will invite parents to provide tokens of comfort from home and I will use them to decorate our classroom.

Without the burden of state-mandated assessments weighing me down, and free from any governmental oversight, I will have the bandwidth to focus on supporting students’ identities. That will be especially rewarding for me and my LGBTQIA students.

In addition to the curricular and practical freedoms offered, this legislation creates an enormous financial opportunity. I know, without a doubt, that I can recruit 21 students to attend my little school. I have a big basement, and the materials will come from my own head (and heart), so I will have almost no overhead.

This means that I will make somewhere around $100,000 annually, based on current base state aid per student. This is substantially more than I earn now, and I will be responsible for many fewer students. It is clearly a financial windfall for any motivated adult.

In conclusion, these bills are a giant win for Kansas educators and youths. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.

The total lack of oversight and regulation, combined  with the financial incentives, create an almost irresistible opportunity for those of us with an agenda for our state’s future. Teachers’ dedication to Kansas’s public schools and serving every student will certainly mean almost nothing when we consider the possibilities offered via this legislation.

I am so excited to take advantage of what they offer.

Liz Meitl is a public school teacher in USD 500, and her two children attend Kansas public schools. Through its opinion section, Kansas Reflector works to amplify the voices of people who are affected by public policies or excluded from public debate. Find information, including how to submit your own commentary, here.

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Liz Meitl
Liz Meitl

Dr. Liz Meitl is a public school teacher in USD 500, and her two children attend Kansas public schools.