Politics Foreign Affairs Culture Fellows Program

It Is Not 'Authoritarian' to Govern Government Schools

State of the Union: Public schools are run by governments, funded by taxpayers, and subject to the political process.

Maryland Gov Hogan practices farewell address
(Photo by Michael Robinson Chávez/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

On Saturday's Meet the Press, outgoing Maryland Governor and potential 2024 hopeful Larry Hogan said that as "a small government, common sense conservative," he opposed Florida Governor Ron DeSantis's "big government and authoritarian" approach to education policy.

This is confused. Public schools are public institutions. They are run by governments, funded by taxpayers, and subject to the political process. Voters and their elected representatives are entitled at any time to alter public school policies and modes of operation. It is not "authoritarian" for a governor to intervene in government schools, it is his job.


DeSantis's actions did not occur in a vacuum. Florida schoolchildren were being taught about sex and sexuality in elementary school. Educators at the College Board had designs of teaching racialist content in Florida classrooms. Declining to govern schools within the government's control wouldn't have resulted in a mutual ceasefire. It would have handed power to the teachers and administrators willing to exercise it.

The incoming generation of public school teachers were tutored in grievance. Many view public education as a means of counteracting children's traditional or religious upbringings. They have contempt for the voting public and a clear sense of mission. Governors can either intervene to prevent these teachers from imposing their values on students, or they can allow the teachers to do so. What they can't do is punt. Power will be exercised. The only question is who will exercise it.