Americans’ trust in the public education system has been falling for years and reached an all-time low this past June. It’s not difficult to understand why: Public schools shut children out of the classroom for months because of the COVID-19 pandemic and then forced them to abide by ridiculous mask and quarantine policies for even longer. The harm caused by school closures and mandatory masking will take years to undo, and yet there has been no apology or even hint of regret from the people responsible.

And that’s because the bureaucrats and union lobbyists running the public education system aren’t actually interested in educating or caring for students. Public schools’ COVID response was just one example of their priorities. Another, which is far more concerning, is the woke material that has taken over public schools’ curricula. From the ahistorical 1619 Project to the Gender Unicorn , leftist ideology is running amok in our public classrooms, and students are suffering as a result.

Indeed, reading and mathematic proficiency has dropped so significantly over the past several years that the U.S.’s reading and mathematic scores are well below the average of other countries. In California, for example, the average eighth grader has the mathematical proficiency of a fifth grader. One would think this lapse in achievement would send off alarm bells in the minds of education leaders. And yet the state’s response has been to lower the testing standards for the sake of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is what happens when wokeism replaces common sense.

Thankfully, a majority of the public is waking up to the fact that the inmates are running the asylum that is our public education system. A new Washington Examiner /YouGov poll found that most U.S. adults believe public schools are pushing specific views on race and sexuality onto children. Fifty-eight percent of respondents, including 51% of Democrats, agreed schools are teaching students what to believe regarding race. And 50%, including 40% of Democrats and 49% of independents, agreed schools are teaching students to adopt certain views on sexuality and gender.

And yet an overwhelming majority of U.S. adults believe schools should not be forcing these views onto children in any way. In fact, 68% of respondents said they believe schools should teach students the U.S. has a complicated history with “good and bad aspects,” which is a very normal reading of U.S. history that unfortunately has been usurped by critical race theory and toxic racialism. And a majority of respondents also said they oppose teaching students about sexual orientation and “gender identity” until high school. This, again, is a normal request that is being ignored by public schools across the country.

The education system designed to serve the interests of the public is completely out of step with what the country wants. In fact, it’s deliberately undermining the public’s interests in a myriad of ways.

The only way we’re going to change this and bring accountability back into the system is by giving families the power to leave public schools. That’s why school choice reform is so important. Policies such as education savings accounts give families the financial power to free their children from a system that prefers indoctrination to education. This, in turn, will force the public education system to reform its ways — or risk losing its funding altogether.

School choice puts the power back where it belongs: with families. Until that happens, public schools will continue to fail students, and confidence in the system will continue to drop. The only people who win in that scenario are the ideologues who have a vested interest in making sure your children turn out just like them.