The American Enterprise
Institute (AEI) recently conducted a forum to discuss and raise awareness
of an issue that should be of paramount concern to all Americans: the systematic
dissolution of American cultural heritage that is effectively taking place
in our schools.
Most U.S. public schools today, at virtually all grade levels, have succumbed
to the blight of progressive ideological bias in the classroom, employing
a “social studies” curriculum that is dominated by leftist notions of social
engineering and a revisionist, post-modern perspective. Its de-emphasis
on substance and fundamentals has created an educational environment that
is ripe for intellectually dishonest indoctrination.
The many manifestations of this curriculum and teaching methods have grand
names like “multicultural education,” “multiple intelligence theory,” “cooperative
learning,” and “constructivism.” But what it comes down to is this: our children
are being taught that everything is relative, there is no right or wrong,
all cultures are equal, truth and understanding exist only as the individual
chooses to derive it and, most importantly, feel good about yourself.
The only absolute truth that seems to get any play is that America is an
imperialist, racist and oppressive nation.
The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, in an extensive study, “Where Did Social
Studies Go Wrong?” argues that, “Social studies education scholarship over
the past 20 years has focused on such politicized and often superficial topics
as peace studies, the environment, gender equity issues, multiculturalism,
and social and economic justice.” Hence, course curricula and supplemental
materials, such as text books, are rife with unbalanced perspectives and/or
fundamental factual omissions.
One example of this can be found in Minnesota’s rules governing the licensing
of teachers. These rules require all teachers to “understand the cultural
content, world view, and concepts [of] Indian Tribal Government,” and the
"vital role of the American Indian value system…” Yet there is no comparable
requirement for them to understand America’s founding principles, world view,
or the vital role of our Founder’s value system. Furthermore, textbooks
there omit “under God” from discussions on the Pledge of Allegiance, are
critical of the American Revolution, and teach that free market economics
is “imperialism” whose evils are linked to Christianity. Conversely,
positive perspective is given to the Russian revolution, command economics
and even Stalin, Lenin and Castro’s Cuba.
There are many, many more examples.
Lack of historical contextual balance, perspective and relevant fact omissions
naturally create truth impaired skeptics and blind cynics who are generally
disinterested in civic responsibility and participation in the political
process. They are also unprepared to intelligently address the myriad
complex domestic and global events that impact them.
Following 9-11, a time when American parents were desperately trying to determine
what to teach their children about these evil events, the education establishment
provided the insensate answer
to teach them to feel good about themselves, not to blame anyone (because
Islam is really a religion of peace), to embrace diversity, and consider
that perhaps America was actually to blame for this evil.
It is no wonder we have scenarios such this described by Steve Miller in FrontPage Magazine on June 14, 2002:
school newspaper condemned the notion of a military response. A Muslim leader
was brought to the school to explain the splendor and glory of Islam. One
of our administrators, who should have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance,
instead got on the PA and questioned the morality of our pending air campaign.
Perhaps most discomforting, was when several days after 9/11 my history teacher
handed out a lengthy article lambasting the United States as absolutely wicked
and condemning the notion of a military response.
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The objective transfer of knowledge on the fundamental subjects of history,
economics, geography and civics has now been replaced in priority by “courses”
designed to promote cultural relativism, self-esteem and a liberal activist
mindset. There has been a documented shift in the study of the positive
aspects and mechanics of our Democracy, to an emphasis on the critical scrutiny
of the American system. (See for example, The Training of Idiots, Civics Education in America’s Schools,
by J. Martin Rochester.) This amounts to the indoctrination of students to
left-of-center notions of what it means to be a good American citizen and,
to me, begins to explain the nescient positions oft assumed by the newly
Sadly, the combination of this system-wide philosophical shift in our government
schools, along with the collective discounting of American history, purpose
and accomplishment, is creating citizens whose measure of patriotism is blind
scrutiny and activism that is nearly devoid of historical fact or context.
How then can we reasonably expect subsequent generations of America to establish
justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote
the general welfare and secure the Blessings of Liberty for themselves and
their posterity, if they have nary a clue about what this means and how our
forefathers prescribed its furtherance and defense. The reality is
we cannot. Fatuous post-modernist notions that each student can reason
their own, equally valid concept of truth, right and wrong, simply will not
cut it in a world that is more black and white than most academicians would
like to concede. History proves that not all philosophies, societies,
governments or cultures are equal … or equally moral.
For the sake of America, our schools have the basic responsibility to teach
the three Rs and what it means to be an American -- as they once did.
Other nations are tied together by their ethnicity. America is an exceptional
nation, comprised of immigrants and tied together by a common set of principles.
These principles, laid out by our founders, are the literal ties that bind.
To marginalize them, through intentional neglect or misplaced scorn, is to
literally debase the United States. Perhaps this is the left’s goal.
Regardless, it is the impending result of their skewed “educational” policies
and it must be righted.
It is past time that mainstream America challenge the new status quo, champion
educational alternatives and counter the influence that has been ceded to
Academicians in their left leaning ivory towers. Specifically:
Openly challenge the status quo. Be aware of what
your children are being taught and challenge your school districts to properly
account for subjects that are being neglected and address subjects with which
you disagree. If you are a teacher, challenge left wing teachers unions,
such as the National Education Association (NEA), on their PC curricula and
liberal political advocacy. Your membership and dues facilitate the
dumbing down and indoctrination process. Rather, seek out alternative
teacher groups such as the Association of American Educators (AAE) which
objectively pursue excellence in education.
Support the creation of an educational marketplace that includes school choice (vouchers).
The establishment of a legitimate educational marketplace that is comprised
of home schoolers, independent/private schools as well as government-sponsored
schools will foster a competitive marketplace where you are empowered.
In a competitive and accessible marketplace, needs are properly addressed,
quality of service improves and all citizens benefit.
Require educators to adhere to fundamental guidelines in education in the form of an Academic Bill of Rights.
The Academic Bill of Rights is a movement in higher education to establish
greater philosophical balance and protection from (predominantly left wing)
political and social bias in education. This noble mission is equally
as valid and necessary at all grade levels of education in this country.
This Bill of Rights in Government Sponsored Education should minimally include
1. Transfer of knowledge will be absent of opinion.
2. Pre-established biases will not be used to influence
or otherwise manipulate the student toward any political or social perspective.
3. Course content and reading in social sciences will reflect
diverse concepts and viewpoints to include the objective, comprehensive study
of American History, Economics and Civics.
4. Academic reward or punishment will not be levied based
on the adherence or rejection to/of political or religious beliefs.
5. All teachers and teacher organizations must maintain
a position of political, social and religious neutrality.
Academics and teachers unions must be exposed and held accountable for their
undemocratic policies and politically correct curricula. The marginalization
of their leftist influence will be had only when concerned Americans get
active, get involved and deliberately reacquire power by challenging the
new status quo, facilitating educational choice and countering the leftist
agenda with an Academic Bill of Rights.
For a free self-governing people, during these precarious times, it is imperative
that fair minded Americans re-establish objective, comprehensive and unbiased
educational standards at all levels of our government sponsored schools.
Surely, we can afford nothing less.
Gary Schneider is the President and founder of TheRealityCheck.Org.
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