Democrats and supporters in the media simply cannot understand the drubbing they took in the recent elections. Education issues motivated voters across the country and Democrats quickly demonstrated that they did not learn a thing. It cannot be the progressive education agenda, out-of-touch school boards, or COVID-19 policies, they say. No, it has to be…wait for it…racism.

Of course, there is nothing to support this pathetic and desperate claim. Despite the efforts of the National School Boards Association and Attorney General Garland to label parents as domestic terrorists and white supremacists, the voters in Virginia elected a Black woman as lieutenant governor and a Hispanic man as attorney general. Apparently “white supremacist” doesn’t mean what they think it means.

So, without any evidence, without proof, they claim candidates, parents and others are using secret, coded, “dog whistle” signals to push a racist agenda. Democrats have tried the dog whistle ploy before, it is almost universal in coverage of the recent elections. They ignore legitimate questions on curriculum or a school board that tries to cover up sexual assault as motivators for voters.

Parents in North Dakota are also motivated and need to stay engaged. The issues we face in education today will not be addressed in one state, or in one election, it will take time. Parents and others have every right to ask questions and demand accountability.

Spending on public education continues to increase but the test scores continue to drop. According to an article in this paper last month the 2021 North Dakota State Assessments showed a sharp drop from the 2019 assessment. Just 38% of students tested proficient in math last spring, down 7% from 2019. Reading assessment was slightly better at 42%, down from 47% in 2019. The focus of this article was to show the impact of COVID-19 over the last school year and the impact was significant. But we have to honest, the 2019 test scores were not very good in the first place. Under 50% of students tested proficient in math and reading in 2019, before the pandemic. Not acceptable. More and more taxpayer money is going to public education and less and less is being delivered.

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Should we be surprised that students are not learning core subjects when the focus of our education system diverted elsewhere? More and more our schools have gotten into issues that should belong to parents and families. Math and reading take a backseat to safe discussions of pronouns and gender.

The people pushing back are not racists, they are not domestic terrorists. What happened in the Virginia election and elsewhere is just the beginning, it has to be. It turns out that what parents want and expect from public education is reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, Education, Inc. focuses on everything but the “3 Rs,”

Freedom and choice in education is the only way to turn this around. The message is growing loud and clear and it’s not a dog whistle, it’s a two-by-four (metaphorically speaking).

Click here to read more from Forum columnist Bette Grande.

Grande represented the 41st District in the N.D. Legislature from 1996 to 2014. She is CEO of the Roughrider Policy Center, an "innovation over regulation" think tank. She is a wife, mom, grandma, lover of life and Jesus. Opinions are solely her own.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.