Indoctrination in government schools is a big problem; giving parents choices can solve it.
Recently in southern California, a public high school student was given an assignment in English class to pick an issue and make an argument for and against it. The 16-year-old decided to do her essay on the Dreamers. But her teacher rejected the topic, telling her that there was no argument against those young people who were brought to the United States illegally. The student’s father was outraged by the teacher’s intolerance for diverse thought and wanted to make an issue of it. But his daughter feared retribution if he made a stink, and the incident went unaddressed.
In Los Angeles, Power California’s mission is to get 16 and 17-year-olds to pre-register to vote and has joined forces with the Los Angeles Unified School District. Okay, in and of itself, not a bad thing. But the group’s leader, 43-year-old Luis Sánchez, has very strong opinions, claiming that students now are living “in a time of racism that we haven’t seen since when I was growing up … and now we have Trump attacking our communities….” So it’s not hard to see that the group’s supposedly neutral message comes with a big dollop of partisanship evident in his Trump-bashing.
Earlier this year, students at Venice High School in Los Angeles preregistered to vote during a school-sanctioned walkout to rant about the NRA and honor the students who died as a result of the Parkland shooting.
In tony Santa Barbara, an outfit called “Just Communities” (H/T Matthew Vadum) has been enlisted to spread its cultural Marxist message to kids in the city’s schools. You know the rant: white people routinely oppress non-whites, men oppress women, Christians oppress non-Christians, heterosexuals oppress gays, the wealthy oppress the poor, yada-yada.
Communist and notorious America-hater Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States” is assigned reading in many high school history classrooms across California. Zinn felt that the teaching of history “should serve society in some way” and that “objectivity is impossible and it is also undesirable.”
Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk has written a thoughtful piece in which he asks, “What if the inability of Americans to agree on our shared history—and the right way to teach it—is a cause of our current polarization rather than a symptom?” The beginning of the article focuses on the Alamo and Sawchuk makes the point that “what students learn about U.S. history varies depending on where they attend school, and is frequently filtered through the political and demographic makeup of different communities.”
Where does this leave the parents of children who support strong immigration laws, President Trump, Second Amendment rights, capitalism, etc.?
In California, unless you have the means to send your kid to the private school of your choosing or can home-school, you and your kids very well may be stuck due to the diminishing number of public schools that stress traditional American values. The regnant POV these days comes from the left… often the far left.
What do we do about this problem? The Cato Institute’s Neil McCluskey says simply and unequivocally that public schooling, despite its reputation, has not brought us together, and that we need educational freedom. “When togetherness has been imposed, conflict and inequality have often been the results.” For example, having no clout in traditional public schools, Catholics established an alternative to the de facto Protestant public schools, and by 1965 enrolled over five million children.
School choice – vouchers, tax credits, and education savings accounts provide an escape. Where choice has been instituted, academic results improve and taxpayers save money. McCluskey writes that Americans are unified by human nature. “It is simply easier to live and thrive in a society when you speak a common language and share a common culture. But people often want commonality without being required to sacrifice things they cherish that might also make them different. School choice works with that, enabling families and educators to freely interact, and to unify without zero-sum, forced sacrifice.”
As I wrote recently, the monolithic school system with its technocratic top down, we-are-the-experts-and-know-better-than-you-what’s-best-for-your-child smugness must be done away with. Parents, not the state, should be the guardians and directors of their children’s education.
The parent of the girl whose intolerant teacher would not allow for another opinion on Dreamers should be able to choose another school for his child and take his tax money with him. Some in the education establishment think this is a radical idea. I think it’s as American as apple pie.
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.