Restoring a school system that has been hijacked by the left should be the nation’s highest priority.
There have been endless post mortems following Barack Obama’s election victory over Mitt Romney last week. It has been posited that Romney lost because he wasn’t libertarian enough, not Tea Party enough, not socially conservative enough, didn’t reach out to minorities, was too business-like, played it too nice in the debates, etc.
Most of the articles made cogent arguments, but two of them really hit home for me. In a revealing piece in American Thinker, Los Angeles-based Republican Party leader Gary Aminoff writes,
For the past several months, in my capacity in the Republican Party, I have been speaking at middle schools and high schools around Los Angeles. It has been very enlightening.
I love engaging with children. Most of them are very bright and ask brilliant questions. The questions give me insights into what they are most concerned about. It also makes clear what they are taught — by either their parents or their teachers, or both.
To summarize — children, for the most part, believe the following:
- Republicans care about only the rich — the top 1% — and don’t care about anyone else
- Republicans hate people of color and especially Latinos.
- Republicans hate gays.
- Republicans are racist.
- It is the government that provides jobs. (I have asked that question many times in classrooms or assemblies. “Who is it that creates jobs in America?” The answer is invariably, without hesitation, “the government.”)
- Corporations are bad, and profits are very bad. Business shouldn’t make profits; they should give any excess money they make to their employees.
- Taxes are good; they provide the money for the government to take care of people.
- Government should expand and take care of everyone in the country.
- America, rather than being a force for good in the world, has been a force for evil.
- Government has an unlimited source of funds. (When I ask, “Where is the government going to get the money to do all these things you want it to do?,” the answer is “taxes.”)
So either due to ambient progressivism in our curricula, a left wing bias by proselytizing teachers or parents who learned the same lessons in school that they are now teaching their children, students aren’t just uninformed, they are in fact misinformed.
Any doubts about Aminoff’s assertions can quickly be dispelled by watching this brief video posted on The Blaze. We learn that these young people, who speak in sound bites, have no knowledge of history and government structure and are clueless about the function of government. They have no idea how many members of Congress there are (200?), who Harry Reid is (a Republican leader?), or how many Supreme Court Justices we have (5? 11?). They also “know” that there is a “war on women,” and that Obama will give students an opportunity to “do something in this world.” Granted this video is not a scientific sampling of our proudly ignorant youth, but only a fool would dismiss these kids as outliers.
A look at our recent NAEP history scores should be a slap in the face to all Americans. On the 2010 test, we learned that only 12 percent of high school seniors have a firm grip on American history. Yes, we are educating students to the point that almost half the nation thinks that the cornerstone of Communism, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs,” is in the U.S. Constitution. Only 2 percent of high school seniors know the significance of Brown vs. the Board of Education and only 4 percent of 8th graders could explain why urban populations rose and rural populations shrank over time.
Also in American Thinker, psychologist and consultant Timothy Daughtry writes that “We lost the Republic in the classroom long before we lost it in the voting booth.”
Conservatives have long bemoaned liberal dominance in education from the universities on down, but we haven’t done anything about it. Marxist intellectuals realized decades ago that the eventual victory of socialism would be assured if leftists dominated the educational system and used their influence to push a leftist worldview. The power of their “long march” through the cultural institutions was that it was not necessary for students to consciously convert to socialist thinking; generation after generation would simply be gradually immersed in the assumptions and dogmas of the left.
Now, after years of patient effort, the teachers’ unions have turned America’s schools into a wholly owned subsidiary of the political left. Conservatives have complained when reports surfaced about students being taught to sing hymns of praise to Obama, or when conservative students were harassed in class, or when examples of blatant liberal bias in textbooks came to light, but somehow we allowed ourselves to write off public schools as a lost cause. Homeschooling and private schools gave some relief, but the idea of getting public schools to transmit a love of liberty and appreciation for free enterprise seemed hopeless.
Besides, conservatives did win occasional victories at the polls, so the republic that our founders left us still seemed capable of self-correction. But even when conservatives won elections, the people who lost those elections taught our children the next day. Our children learned that Reagan’s tax cuts increased the deficit, but they never heard that those tax cuts stimulated the economy and doubled revenue. The idea that those deficits came from excessive spending was not even on the table.
So even if it had been Romney taking the oath of office in January, our children would have learned about his policies from the people who voted against those policies. Our children — and our future voters — would have heard the shallow mantras of “tax cuts for the rich” and paying for bombs instead of schools, and many would have absorbed the rhetoric without questioning it.
As long as the left has controlled the schools, time has always been on their side. We lost the Republic in the classroom long before we lost it in the voting booth.
It is important to emphasize that the politicizing of our schools is not a new phenomenon As Daughtry points out, it started decades ago. Kyle Olson in his valuable book, Indoctrination: How ‘Useful Idiots’ Are Using Our Schools to Subvert American Exceptionalism, describes the ways that the progressives in our society have taken over K-12 education. They have been running most of our elite colleges and schools of education for years now and this step is in keeping with their plan to transform America. In my review of Olson’s book, I added a personal note,
As a public school teacher whose career spanned four decades, I have seen the long march first hand. Perverting the traditional purpose of American education (which has been to make better and more educated citizens), progressives have been inspired by the theories of Paolo Freire, a Brazilian socialist who saw everything through a Marxist class warfare lens.
Carrying Freire’s mantle, current gurus like revolutionary terrorist Bill Ayers and the recently deceased Communist Howard Zinn have been behind the effort to destroy America as we know it. They claim that basically the U.S. and its capitalist system are the root of all evil. Unfortunately, their love-the-world/hate-America attitude has gained an incredible amount of currency in our public schools in a relatively short time. Ayers, Zinn and their ilk have essentially managed to convince much of the education establishment to abandon every teaching technique and curriculum that benefited prior generations….
So just what are we teaching our students?
In chapter after chapter, Olson meticulously details lessons being foisted on young Americans that are being taught for one purpose only – to advance the progressive agenda. A few examples:
• An examination of the nature and extent of police brutality, which is being promoted in middle schools by none other than Van Jones, conspiracy enthusiast extraordinaire.
• A clever lesson using poker chips, the aim of which is to convince students that unequal distribution of wealth has to do with the fact that the U.S. has more than its share of resources, not that we have a wealth-promoting capitalist system.
• “I Pledge Allegiance to the Earth.” Yup, no more of this silly patriotic stuff. Children, you are denizens of the earth! (I wonder what our political enemies think of this rubbish… when they stop laughing, that is.)
Rightfully, Olson reserves a special section for the unions whose far left agenda has been well documented, and have gone to great lengths to make this country over in their own image. Their attempts to indoctrinate kids and glorify the union movement are staggering. For example,
• “Trouble in the Henhouse: A Puppet Show.” In this charming bit of propaganda put out by the California Federation of Teachers aimed at kindergartners, we find an oppressive farmer whose hens unionize and convince the heartless farmer that he’d better respect them or else.
• The “Yummy Pizza Company” is another lesson from CFT — actually ten, which delve into the process of organizing a union local. They include instructions on how to collectively bargain as well as a sanitized look at prominent labor leaders.
• Click Clack Moo, a popular book promoted by the AFL-CIO, tells second graders about unhappy cows that refuse to work until the mean farmer is forced to meet their demands.
But it’s even worse than Olson suggests because the progressives don’t stop at politics and economics; they are also rapidly destroying our culture. For example, led by the teachers unions, the sexualizing of American children has been in full swing for some time now. In 2005, I wrote that the National Education Association gave its prestigious Human Rights Award to Kevin Jennings, the founder of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network (GLSEN).
…GLSEN is the group that presided over the infamous “Fistgate” conference held at Tufts University in Massachusetts in March 2000, where state employees gave explicit instructions (about “fisting” and other forms of gay sexual activity) to children as young as 12. The conference was secretly recorded and can be heard here. The contents are extraordinarily vile.
Unfortunately, “Fistgate” was not an isolated incident. On April 30 of this year GLSEN held an event at Brookline High School in Massachusetts, and distributed an obscene booklet to hundreds of middle and high school students. With headings like F**kin’, S**kin’ and Spit or Swallow?, it describes various sexual practices that can only be described as perverse.
Then there is the so called FAIR Act, an obscene bit of legislation in California that brings the contributions of homosexuals and transgenders into the K-12 curriculum. Gay-Straight clubs in middle school (where parents do not have to be notified of their child’s involvement) are proliferating. And at a U.N. conference in 2011, Diane Schneider an NEA “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Trainer of Trainers” talked about the importance of schools teaching orgasm to children as young as 11. Yes indeed, the radicals have been making alarming progress.
Another example of the progressives’ cultural agenda is which holidays are deemed significant. Few people are aware of what holiday is celebrated on November 20th. But every student at the middle school where I worked till my retirement in 2009 knows, because the school spent more time acknowledging that day – “Transgender Day of Remembrance” – than Veteran’s Day, November 11th. TDR was considered more worthy of the students’ time at my school than a holiday which acknowledges the contributions of American soldiers. (Maybe this shouldn’t be surprising. At the same school, posters of Che Guevara adorned the walls of no less than five classrooms, including an American history class that had no pictures of Washington or Lincoln. Che was considered a hero by these teachers who passed this admiration on to their impressionable students. Of course the real life Che was a sadistic mass murderer, but being a progressive means never having to sweat minor details like the truth.)
Thomas Jefferson wrote that schooling in America’s new democracy should be
…chiefly historical. History by apprising them of the past will enable them to judge of the future; it will avail them of the experience of other times and other nations; it will qualify them as judges of the actions and designs of men; it will enable them to know ambition under every disguise it may assume; and knowing it, to defeat its views.
How appalled and disgusted would Jefferson be upon learning what American children are being taught today! While it is undoubtedly important to stress the STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), the teaching of agenda-free history and civics is even more urgent. The hijacking of history and ultimately the trashing of our culture by a group of academics, educrats and unionists is destroying our nation. Unless we fight back… and soon, our country – as we have known it – will be lost forever.
Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.