The Public School Rescue Plan
Restoring the Education System will Require the Right Governor
by Marc Thielman for Governor,
As Oregon’s schools slide further into activist training centers, taxpayers need to understand the gravity of their choice for governor, who controls the entire public school system. There is a path to navigate out of this dangerous decline, but it will require voter commitment to rescue our schools and the souls of our children.
Many Oregonians are unaware that our Governor is the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This means the Governor has plenary power to dictate the values, purpose, and direction of all of Oregon’s public schools. Unlike most other states, Oregon’s Governor has power to “rule by decree” in setting these priorities with no taxpayer input.
The Oregon Governor’s Power Over the Education System
The Governor maintains control by appointing a Deputy Superintendent and all State Board of Education members, thus creating a tight circle of aligned ideologues. If the deputy or a state board member attempts to speak out, question, or oppose a directive of the Governor they risk being summarily dismissed and replaced with a more compliant person. Under the current structure, checks and balances are nonexistent.
The current Governor’s leadership has led to the implementation of divisive ideologies based on race and social justice, such as critical race theory (CRT), the complete removal of any requirement for students to demonstrate proficiency of standards in order to graduate, the declaration of math as “racist,” the requirement for “menstrual justice” placing feminine products in all boys’ bathrooms, among many other unpopular policy initiatives.
The superintendents leading these districts strive to demonstrate how enlightened, compliant, and woke they are in hopes of advancing their careers by pleasing the powerful in Salem and the Oregon Department of Education. Thus, from the governor to the deputy superintendent to the board members to the district superintendents, adherence to political agendas can quickly supersede the will of the taxpayers funding this public education system.
Students and Parents are Losing
The stakeholders who lose in this top-down rulership are not only the students, but the parents. Instead of being steeped in polarizing political agendas, most parents want their students to become proficient at reading, writing, and math, as well as develop strong character and resiliency skills that will be needed when they move out on their own and enter the world of work.
Parents who speak out in support of academic achievement before equity indoctrination are marginalized and called “terrorists.” Many school boards in our state have discontinued inviting parents to meetings, disallowed public comment at school board meetings, and engaged only with like-minded parents, advocates, and “allies.”
The outcome of this broken system built on ideological cronyism has been a massive erosion of public confidence in our public schools. Portland Public Schools is seeing unprecedented drops in enrollment with more expected in the coming year. Parents are pulling their students from the taxpayer funded public system and finding other options for their children; this should be a warning that the most important stakeholders are not happy. They’ve endured closed schools which they paid for with their tax dollars and arbitrary, incessantly changing “rules” for them and their children to abide by in order to access services. Parents and students are fed up.
In a normal market situation, when customers leave and business declines, leadership must adjust or prepare to lose market share and eventually die. Instead, the ideologues in the public school system have advanced their top-down insanity by adopting the “menstrual equity” agenda which places feminine products in boy’s bathrooms, confusing students and clogging toilets! This latest expensive addition to the grooming of Oregon’s children is shifting students’ attention from learning to divisive political agendas.
The Rescue Plan
1. Restore Critical Thinking, Not Conformity
The root of our problem is that our schools have become training centers, not learning centers. Currently, “collective conformity” rewards students for compliance to the narrative in our “equity”-focused schools. Students are trained and groomed instead of taught to think. We must reclaim critical thinking and Socratic questioning if we are to allow each fresh mind to truly learn. Our public schools need real leadership to restore them to their primary purpose of teaching students how to think and not what to think. The training model has been carefully molded over a series of years and is going to take strategy and fortitude to restore.
As the only Governor candidate having served successfully as a public-school superintendent, I understand the many agencies and agendas assaulting our public schools at a granular level. I plan to take full ownership for the state of our public schools and work tirelessly to uproot the embedded indoctrination. If we want to save our public schools, we must shift back to learning from training. Our young Oregonians minds and futures are at stake.
2. Ban Divisive Ideological Curriculums
I have been an educator for 28 years, and in my career as a school superintendent, as soon as the ideological curriculums started being adopted, I watched as other districts struggled with an uptick in student conflict, division, and mental health issues. For this reason, I never implemented these curriculums in my school, and refused the financial incentives attached to related programs. I stood between these narratives and my students.
On Day One in office as Governor, I will ban the teaching of Critical Race Theory and its “renamed” cousins, Anti-Racist curriculum, comprehensive sex education (CSE), and the anxiety-provoking social emotional learning (SEL), all currently imposed by the Oregon Department of Education.
It’s not just the curriculums that need to be removed. Teachers, counselors, and school workers will each need to be evaluated on merit in order to reboot our schools as true learning centers. Those who have become activists will be given an opportunity to return to teaching solid academics or an opportunity to find a new job. Parent’s voices will once again be honored as they assess the academic focus of their student’s teachers and I will provide a parent hotline to assist in this process.
Since the wrong things have been emphasized over education, it’s time to recussitate our academic standards.
3. Demand a “Report Card” on All Schools
On Day One as Governor, I will demand a “report card” on all schools. Every district will have 60 days to report on academic standards and the state of their schools. To balance the veracity of this self-reporting, parents will also be invited into a separate evaluative process.
Parents will identify their district, rate their satisfaction with their schools, and rate their comfort level with the curriculums being taught to their children. They will be asked to rate their children’s teachers and curriculums and whether their school supports and honors the values they teach in their homes.
This type of outreach will be useful for creating a check and balance that will help to give parents a direct voice in their child’s education and steer their school district back toward focusing on parent and family values and academic standards and achievement. Each district will receive their data and the sum of all districts will combine to provide statewide data regarding parent confidence in our public schools. This information will direct the focus for learning and family support engagement moving forward. Data driven decision-making is a must if our Public School System is to be responsive to student and parent needs.
4. Refocus on Competence and the Constitution
With division and hostility in our schools at an all-time high, it is imperative we return to academic excellence and the unifying standards of reading, writing, arithmetic, science, electives, and trades. Teaching these core skills produce students who are capable and confident and who become productive members of society.
To restore unity around our common framework and emphasize the importance of civics, I will require the teaching of our federal and state Constitutions in every high school. Additionally, to support the Second Amendment of our Constitution, I will require gun safety courses to produce a healthy and respectful relationship with firearms.
5. Restore Respect and Empowerment for Parents
I have advocated for parent’s rights throughout my educational career. When the government shut down schools and parents had no recourse, I kept my school open to ensure their students could learn. When the government mandated masks, I helped my parents of students with disabilities apply for a mask exemption, to the absolute ire of Kate Brown. When students in my district were being harmed by masks, I brought forth the findings of the CDC and our school board put the masking decision back to the parents. Six other districts followed, and the mask mandate was subsequently lifted in Oregon. Parents everywhere rejoiced that their kids could safely enjoy in-person learning unfettered.
Since time immemorial, parents are the sole experts on their children and deserve to be respected, invited into their child’s education, and be given a platform to communicate with educators.
Finally, I will empower parents to find the educational pathway that best fits their child’s unique needs. I am the Chief Petitioner in the School Choice Constitutional Amendment which allows taxpayer funding to follow the student in their educational journey, so parents can choose public, private, parochial, virtual, or homeschool without government interference. You can imagine why this is considered a “dangerous” initiative to ideologues wanting to own and groom your children. But school choice will actually incentivize competition and improve outcomes.
This upcoming election is more than a primary, but a referendum on our current educational leadership. There is only one candidate in the Republican field with the proven track record of taking on these dangerous forces and winning. As Oregon’s next Governor, I will restore the sanctity of public education in Oregon.
-Marc Thielman is the former Superintendent of the Alsea School District which stayed open K-12 during the COVID Lockdowns with zero cases of COVID traced back to the classroom as a source. His school board put the masking decision back to the parents, sparking multiple districts to follow suit. He is a Republican candidate for governor.