The rise of uncivil education

By Larry Sand
October 24, 2017

This year has not been kind to the land of the free.

Due to advancing ignorance and arrogance – a deadly combination – the basic tenets of our republic are in trouble, and public education is at the center of much of what is wrong. While we went through a similar socio-political upheaval in the 1960s, I contend that the anti-liberty mob-think we live with is much more ingrained now. With indoctrination starting in kindergarten, many students have had 13 years of sensitivity training to prepare them for the feelings factories, formerly known as colleges.

Chester Finn, President Emeritus of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, places much of the blame on the “failure of civics education.” He points to the results of a survey conducted by the Brookings Institution’s John Villasenor who recently polled college students to gauge their understanding of the First Amendment’s free-speech clause.

When asked if the First Amendment protects “hate speech,” just 39 percent said yes, and 51 percent said that it is acceptable to shout down a speaker who makes “offensive and hurtful statements.”

But I think it’s more than a lack of civic education, but rather a perpetual onslaught of uncivil education that has led to our national malaise. And one need not leave the Golden State to get an understanding of the problem.

The poster child for the “you-have-no-right-to-hurt-my-feelings” anti-liberty crowd is one Yvette Felarca, a Berkeley middle school teacher who is also a leader of By Any Means Necessary, a vile and violent left wing cult. The Berkeley Unified School District has amassed a 30 page dossier which chronicles her educational abuses since 2009. Despite repeated warnings, she has taken her students to protest rallies during class time and uses sick days to fly off to mass political protests. As Heartland Institute research fellow Teresa Mull points out, “She took advantage of non-native English speakers, the records show, persuading them to agree to send their kids to her protests when they didn’t understand the trip was not school-approved.”

Felarca not only lied about doing all the above, she had the nerve to sue the school district after she was placed on PAID leave. (Yes, the Berkeley teachers union is going to bat for her.) Felarca gained national attention when she was videoed at a white nationalist rally in Sacramento in June, 2016. She was caught calling one of the protestors a Nazi and proceeded to punch him in the stomach while shouting for him to “get the f*** off our streets!”

Felarca may be an extreme case, but don’t let that fool you. Indoctrination is in high gear this year, and, not surprisingly, the teachers unions are front and center in the effort. The United Teachers of Los Angeles wanted to shut down the school district on May Day to resist “the anti-union, anti-immigrant, anti-women, anti-LGBT, anti-worker, anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim policies that are coming out of Washington, D.C.” UTLA was part of a coalition of community organizations and other unions that organized and urged LAUSD Superintendent Michelle King to shut down the district on May 1st “for student safety reasons.” Fortunately, King decided to keep the schools open. While it’s unknown how many teachers ditched school to partake in the May Day festivities, the union’s political message was broadcast to students loud and clear.

The California Teachers Association has laid on the radical politics quite robustly this year. As documented by Kevin Dayton in a California Policy Center post, the union has been on a “social justice” tear, loading up teachers with a toolkit – replete with documents and printable posters – that is chock-full of angry left wing messages for k-12ers. No shades of gray, no room for discussion, nothing about the Constitution; just simple-minded left-wing claptrap about “inclusion,” “hate-free zones,” and the Industrial Workers of the World-inspired “the union makes us strong.”

The National Education Association website is loaded with progressive propaganda and the union’s leadership is on the front lines. John Stocks, NEA executive director and social justice avatar, gave a talk recently and fired up the crowd by predicting “a tremendous resurgence of people who are going to take back their country.” He continued, “I assure you, in a relatively short period of time, there will be an uprising. “[It] will in fact fuel a more progressive future. That’s what’s going to happen. When it happens, we need to have the infrastructure in place to take advantage of it.”

Delivered as a true “man of the people” right? Well, not really. Stocks, you see, makes $469,501 a year in total compensation. And as reported by Mike Antonucci, the one-percenter gave his revolutionary talk to, no, not the downtrodden, but rather to members of Idaho’s Hayden Lakes Country Club amid “a sumptuous catered dinner” and no-host bar. Club membership is $20,000 with monthly dues of $457.

You simply can’t make this stuff up.

Limousine lefty hogwash aside, the country is in real trouble. Returning to Finn’s point about civic education, Pacific Research Institute scholar Lance Izumi notes that pages and pages of the latest California History, Social Science Framework “are devoted to identity politics, and the environmentalist, sexual, and anti-Vietnam War movements, with detailed and extensive bibliographical references. In contrast, the contemporaneous conservative movement, which succeeded in electing Californian Ronald Reagan as president, with its complex mixture of social, economic and national security sub-movements, is given cursory and passing mention, with no references provided.”

The only thing that concerned parents can do in school choice-lite states like California is send their kids to a private school that reflects their values, or at least, if they send them to a public school, be prepared to do regular deprogramming. We live in a state where in August a first grade girl was sent to the principal’s office for the high crime and misdemeanor of a “pronoun mishap” – that is, she referred to a classmate who was “transitioning” from boy to girl by his given name.

Thomas Jefferson is credited with saying, “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.” If he is right – and I believe he is – our days would appear to be numbered. The hour is getting late and a course correction in education is absolutely essential. Now.

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 and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.

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