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Chicago Teachers Union and Friends Become UNglued

An ill wind blows hot air in the Windy City.

Like Detroit, Chicago is a city in dire fiscal straits – it is depopulating and its debt is in the stratosphere. The school system alone, hardly a crown jewel, is dealing with a $1 billion deficit. For a variety of reasons, the city’s student population has been dwindling since the 1960s, and in March the school district announced its plan to close 54 sparsely populated campuses. (The number has since been revised to 49.) As RiShawn Biddle wrote at the time,

Chicago’s enrollment of 404,584 children is a third smaller than the number of kids served by the district during the 1960s. Three hundred thirty of the district’s 616 schools — more than half of the district’s portfolio — operate below capacity, with 137 of them half-empty. At some schools, including Drake Elementary School in the city’s Bronzeville section, and an elementary school named for hometown hero Emmett Till (whose murder in Mississippi by two men offended by his violation of Jim Crow segregation spurred the modern civil rights movement), just two out of every five seats are filled during the school year.

Needless to say, the local and national teachers unions are horrified by the closings, but as a fact sheet released by the Chicago Public School system (CPS) points out, the action is necessary and will have little impact on the city’s kids.

The story was on the back-burner for a while but was rekindled in June when Chicago Teacher Union (CTU) President Karen I-never-fail-to-be-offensive Lewis, went on a tear and blamed “rich white people” for the educational woes of minority kids. But as Juan Williams points out,

The latest statistics show only 63 percent of Chicago public school students graduating in 2013 and that is an increase over recent years. Among the city’s 8th grade students, 79 percent are not at reading level. Meanwhile, Lewis’ union has made Chicago’s public school teachers’ salaries among the highest in the nation at an annual average of $74,839.

But the only school reform Lewis advocates is higher taxes on Chicago’s property owners and she describes it as a tax hike on upper-income whites. She also wants new taxes on all financial transfers as well as a commuter tax, which she concludes will principally impact, once again, the target of her anger, well-to-do whites.

Lewis, a black woman and highly educated Dartmouth graduate, also argued that the city’s white, Jewish mayor, Rahm Emanuel, his aides and the city’s “venture capitalists” are guilty of using “little black and brown children as stage props at one press conference while announcing they want to fire, layoff or lock up their parents at another press conference.”

Then, in mid-July, CPS took another hit when the city announced it would have to lay off another 2,100 teachers and support staff, bringing the total number of pink slips to 3,600 in two months. As usual, Lewis aimed her arrows outside the bloated and wasteful school system itself for solutions and came up with …yawn …. raising the state income tax.

… ballooning pension and labor costs, and billion dollar deficit, could be solved if the state would simply raise its income tax and start giving the new money to Chicago schools.

We need to close some corporate loopholes.  We need to look at a financial transaction tax.  

We also need to go to Springfield to get rid of this regressive flat tax.  We need a progressive income tax. 

At the same time, CTU involved itself in a bizarre stratagem. The union and a motley collection of fellow travelers, including terrorist Bill Ayers, unrepentant communist Michael Klonsky and Action Now (ACORN reincarnated) petitioned the United Nations, sending a “letter of allegation” to Geneva asking the international organization to investigate whether the closing of 49 Chicago schools “violates children’s human rights.” Seriously. You can’t make this stuff up.

“The United Nations taking this issue up and giving it serious attention will really bring home to Chicago and the United States that there are violations occurring here of human rights, potentially, not just about a budget crisis,” said Sital Kalantry, the University of Chicago law professor who filed the letter on behalf of the Midwest Coalition for Human Rights.

Apparently, the fact that the United Nations – thankfully – has no influence over internal American affairs is not of interest to these folks. Their entreaty to the UN is especially ironic considering the world body’s own appalling record on human rights. Most notably, Sudan – with its long history of slavery continuing to this day – is on the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). Additionally, the proud slave-owning country was laughably and tragically represented on the UN Commission on Human Rights until that body disbanded in 2006.

Obviously the UN isn’t much concerned with things like slavery. So what does this august body do for humanity? Right about the time the CTU and pals submitted their petition, the UN was busy passing a resolution declaring November 19thWorld Toilet Day.” This solemn recognition joins a host of UN efforts to be really important and make a difference in the world. Other “days” it acknowledges are “International Mountain Day” (December 11th), “World Migratory Bird Day” (May 11th) and “World Television Day” (November 21st).

Rumor has it that when the Chicago folks realize the UN is as serious about human rights as a clown college, they will move on, undaunted, to examine other options. As such, Bashar al-Assad, the Castro brothers, Robert Mugabe and Kim Jung Un are advised to keep their cell phones charged.

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.

Milwaukee: Happy Days, Schlitz, Harley-Davidson … and School Choice

Schlitz may be the beer that made Milwaukee famous, but recently the spotlight has been shining on the city’s school choice efforts.

Back in 1990, the Pleistocene Era of education reform, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program became the nation’s first publicly funded school choice program for low-income children. Born of an interesting political marriage – Democratic state legislator Polly Williams and Republican Governor Tommy Thompson – the program started as a way to address the city’s troubled education system.

Now of course, when one refers to vouchers, school choice, opportunity scholarships or whatever name you want to give public-monies-going-to-educate-children-at-anything-but-a-government-run-school, all the usual suspects descend from the woodwork and trot out all the alleged horrors of school choice. The teachers unions most notably hate choice because some parents will actually choose to send their kids to a non-unionized school. The National Education Association never misses an opportunity to make ridiculous statements – which have little or no basis in fact – about the issue. For example, on its website it has “Five Talking Points on Vouchers,” all of which I debunked in a January post. Elsewhere on its website, the union makes what it claims is an educational case against vouchers:

See what research says about the relationship between vouchers and student achievement… Americans want consistent standards for students. Where vouchers are in place — Milwaukee, Cleveland, and Florida — a two-tiered system has been set up that holds students in public and private schools to different standards.

So the union wants us to look at facts? Researchers Patrick Wolf and John Witte do just that. Earlier this year, they wrote about students participating in Milwaukee’s voucher program stating that they

graduated from high school and both enrolled and persisted in four-year colleges at rates that were four to seven percentage points higher than a carefully matched set of students in Milwaukee Public Schools. Using the most conservative 4% voucher advantage from our study, that means that the 801 students in ninth grade in the voucher program in 2006 included 32 extra graduates who wouldn’t have completed high school and gone to college if they had instead been required to attend MPS.

In 2009, referring to researcher John Warren, Education Next’s Paul Peterson wrote that an estimated

82 percent of 9th grade students in voucher schools graduated from high school, while just 70 percent of 9th graders in the Milwaukee Public Schools did.

Both systems have seen a marked increase in high school graduation rates since 2005. For the Milwaukee Public Schools, the rate has moved steadily upward from 54% in 2005 to 57% the next year, then to 60%, then up, again,  to 65%, and, finally. to 70% in 2009, a healthy trend that that should be applauded.

So not only do vouchers help those who use them, but they also seem to positively affect those students who stay in their traditional public schools.

One private school that primarily serves low-income students through Milwaukee’s Parental Choice Program boasts a 100 percent college acceptance record.

Dante Hamilton will be one of 37 seniors graduating in June from HOPE Christian High School…

In most schools, a percentage of the graduates would be heading off to college, while many would have a different destination.

But Hamilton and all 36 of his classmates have been accepted to college. It’s the second year in a row that one hundred percent of HOPE Christian seniors gained college admission.

Many of the graduates will be the first in their families to graduate from high school and attend college.

When all else fails, NEA points to the bogus “fiscal burden” of vouchers, charging that they increase costs “by requiring taxpayers to fund two school systems, one public and one private.”

Again, wrong.

In Milwaukee, vouchers are saving the taxpayers money.

The per-pupil taxpayer cost of independent charters and the MPCP is substantially less than that of the Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS). In 2011-12, MPS per pupil taxpayer cost was $13,269, which is made up of state, local, and federal aid compared to $7,775 for independent charters and a maximum of $6,442 combined state and local aid for MPCP. The MPS per pupil taxpayer cost is calculated using information from the MPS budget. The MPCP per pupil funding is from the Legislative Fiscal Bureau Informational Paper on the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program.

Never knowing when to quit, NEA recently posted an article about Barbara Miner, who just wrote a book about Milwaukee called Lessons from the Heartland: A Turbulent Half-Century of Public Education in an Iconic American City. Miner, who is mordantly attached to the status quo and quite enthusiastic about it, is associated with Rethinking Schools, an organization that believes real education reform will be led by the teachers unions. (No, this is not an early April Fool’s joke.) In 2011, this “social justice” outfit held a conference where its keynote speaker was unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers. (Here we see a photo of chums, Ayers and Miner, at the event.) NEA ends the article with a direct quote from Miner, who leaves no doubt about her values as she unloads on Wisconsin’s pro-choice governor Scott Walker.

We survived Joe McCarthy. We will survive Scott Walker.

Apparently, in Miner’s eyes, Walker is an evil demagogue because he championed the move to get the government out of the union-dues-collection business, and has the audacity to care more about kids and taxpayers than ensuring that big bucks flow to union coffers.

But despite Miner, Ayers, NEA et al, MPCP is prospering and the future for school choice in Milwaukee and the rest of the Badger State is bright. Two years ago, Marquette professor Alan Borsuk wrote “Milwaukee could become first American city to use universal vouchers for education.”

Prescient? Perhaps.

According to the results of a Marquette University poll, released on March 19th,

…51 percent of Wisconsin voters support a major expansion of the state’s private school choice program.

The Marquette poll reported that 37 percent of Wisconsin voters would support a statewide expansion of the program while another 14 percent would support its expansion to large school districts with some failing schools. In contrast, 14 percent of voters say they favor not expanding the program, while 28 percent would end it.

On, Wisconsin!

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.

Got Glue?

Restoring civic attachment and mainstreaming revolution.

Back in 2010, the American Enterprise Institute launched “The Program on American Citizenship,” a worthy project that is dedicated to

strengthening the foundations of American freedom and self-government by renewing our understanding of American citizenship. The ultimate goal of the Program is to deepen Americans’ appreciation for and attachment to those principles that are necessary to keep the United States free, strong, and democratic.

America’s public schools were founded in order to create good citizens who could sustain a new and fragile republic. As Thomas Jefferson famously opined, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” Thus, for nearly two centuries, schools have made civic education a priority in order to ensure the continued stability of our democratic republic and to provide an ever-more-diverse citizenry with a solid appreciation of the rights, opportunities and responsibilities that come with American citizenship.

Today, however, too many of our schools are failing in that mission. To understand the sources of this decline, the Program commissioned a groundbreaking, new survey of the teachers most directly charged with educating and shaping America’s new citizens–high school teachers of history and social studies.

Our survey work provided a clear policy directive: If we are to get better citizens, we need better civic education, which gives a central role to America’s history, political institutions, and ideals and is based on effective classroom practice.

The teacher survey points out that history is being given short shrift in our schools and that five out of six teachers think that the United States is a “unique country that stands for something special in the world” and that it is most important for high school students to “respect and appreciate their country but know its shortcomings.”

Growing up in the 1950s, teaching American exceptionalism was the norm and it seems to me that we need to return to that place in a hurry. For far too long we have been ignoring history, and when it is taught, it’s of the revisionist variety, coming from a left wing perspective where the emphasis is on which bad old white guys ruined the lives of…fill in the blank… minority.

What so many don’t realize is that without patriotism, a dirty word in some progressive circles, our nation is doomed. As Thomas Sowell pointed out,

Patriotism is not chic in the circles of those who assume the role of citizens of the world, whether they are discussing immigration or giving aid and comfort to the enemy in wartime.

The decline and fall of the Roman Empire was as much due to the internal disintegration of the ties that bind a society together as to the assaults of the Romans’ external enemies.

The pride of being a Roman citizen was destroyed by cheapening that citizenship by giving it to too many other people. The sense of duty and loyalty eroded among both the elites and the masses.

Without such things, there could be no Roman Empire. Ultimately, without such things, there can be no United States of America. In neither case have tangible wealth and power been enough to save a country or a civilization, for the tangibles do not work without the intangibles.

Laudably, AEI has just launched Phase II of its program, “Counting on Character: National Heritage Academies (NHA) and Civic Education” in which such things as character, traditional morality and virtue are stressed. NHA operates 74 schools nationwide with 60 percent of them in Michigan. In Grand Rapids, Ridge Park Academy, a typical NHA campus,

…starts every day with the Pledge of Allegiance, the Star-Spangled Banner, and the school creed: “I am a Ridge Park scholar. I strive to achieve academic excellence. I exemplify high moral character. I work diligently to prepare for the future . . .”

Character education is ubiquitous and relentless at NHA schools. Each month is assigned a “moral focus” or virtue, which teachers are supposed to weave into their lessons and students write about from kindergarten through eighth grade. Signs in classrooms and hallways honor examples of virtue.

Like other charter schools, NHA promises parents to teach a rigorous curriculum that will prepare their children for success in college. It also promises a moral education imbued with traditional values such as love of country and family. Good character is not just a private asset, NHA leaders believe. It leads to good citizenship.

Again, there is nothing new here. What is being emphasized was business-as-usual in American schools a half century ago. Nice to see it making a comeback, though. May it spread like wildfire.

And from the sublime to the ridiculous….That Bill Ayers, the America-hating zealot and terrorist extraordinaire, is still allowed to walk and breathe in civil society (let alone get to hold the title, “Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar” at the University of Illinois at Chicago) is outrageous.

In his 2001 memoir “Fugitive Days,” Ayers recounts his life as a 1960s radical and boasts that he 

participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972. Of the day he bombed the Pentagon, Ayers writes, “Everything was absolutely ideal…. The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.” He further recalls his fascination with the fact that “a good bomb” could render even “big buildings and wide streets … fragile and destructible,” leaving behind a “majestic scene” of utter destruction.

All told, Ayers and the Weather Underground were responsible for 30 bombings aimed at destroying the defense and security infrastructures of the U.S.  “I don’t regret setting bombs,” said Ayers in 2001, “I feel we didn’t do enough.” Contemplating whether or not he might again use bombs against the U.S. sometime in the future, he wrote: “I can’t imagine entirely dismissing the possibility.”

…In a December 2012 speech at New York University, Ayers emphasized the importance of using the education system, among other things, to indoctrinate young people and thereby transform American society. (Bold added.) Said Ayers: “If we want change to come, we would do well not to look at the sites of power we have no access to; the White House, the Congress, the Pentagon. We have absolute access to the community, the school, the neighborhood, the street, the classroom, the workplace, the shop, the farm.”

As a vile and violent revolutionary, should this guy be in a position to affect our kids? Well, the Association of Teacher Educators certainly thinks so. In fact, this group has invited Ayers to be a keynote speaker next month at its yearly conference.

The Virginia-based Association of Teacher Educators describes itself as a “membership organization devoted solely to the improvement of teacher education both for school-based and post secondary teacher educators.”

“ATE members represent over 650 colleges and universities, 500 major school systems, and the majority of the state departments of education. The ATE office is located in the Washington, DC area where it represents its members’ interests before governmental agencies and educational organizations,” according to the organization’s website.

“In addition, ATE has two voting seats on the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.” (NCATE is a useless organization set up by the National Education Association; its mission is to “help establish high quality teacher preparation.” You’ve probably noticed they have established no such thing.)

Then we have a school board race in Los Angeles in March. Board races in LA are major political events with boatloads of money being spent. One race of note is in District 2 – comprising Central and East LA, where reform-minded board president Monica Garcia is facing stiff competition, most notably from Robert Skeels, who is a card carrying member of the revolutionary International Socialist Organization. On his blog site, his bio in part reads

Robert is a committed member of both Coalition for Educational Justice and the International Socialist Organization. In addition to advancing working class struggles, Robert is an adherent of Liberation Theology.

The International Socialist Organization, according to its website, believes in

A world free of exploitation–socialism–is not only possible but worth fighting for. The ISO stands in the tradition of revolutionary socialists Karl Marx, V.I. Lenin and Leon Trotsky in the belief that workers themselves–the vast majority of the population–are the only force that can lead the fight to win a socialist society. Socialism can’t be brought about from above, but has to be won by workers themselves.

Standing in the tradition of Marx, Lenin and Trotsky? Who, you ask, would be in favor of letting this man be in a position of power affecting the lives of hundreds of thousands of children? Seems that two unions – the United Teachers of Los Angeles (teachers) and the Associated Administrators of Los Angeles (principals) – are leading a nasty pack of America haters that have endorsed Revolutionary Robert to be on the school board.

Running for president in 2007, John Edwards noted that there were “Two Americas” – rich and poor. He was partially right. There are indeed two Americas, but we are not divided by economic status. We are separated by those who love our country and those who don’t and want to radically alter it. At the same time that some of us are behind a common sense historical and civic revival, attempting to strengthen our national glue, others are intent on transforming the country by mainstreaming revolutionary creeps like Ayers and Skeels. To restore American greatness, we must teach American values. Or, we can sit idly by while a fifth column – including “teacher education improvement” groups and unions – hiding in plain sight, works to destroy all things American.

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.

The Tragic Consequences of Social Justice Education

The president of the National Education Association continues to promote ideas that are anti-American and are turning our kids into progressive, anti-wealth, equality-obsessed robots.

Last week, the drone-like National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel gave a talk at the annual gathering of the Nebraska State Education Association. He unleashed the same tired old class warfare hogwash that teacher union leaders have been yammering about for years. The latest version of this old whine stresses closing corporate tax loopholes. As I wrote last week, the NEA claims the U.S. can recoup $1.5 trillion in taxes if those greedy corporate types would just pay their “fair share.” Van Roekel conveniently omits the fact that NEA took in $400,000,000 in 2010-2011, mostly in dues forcibly taken from its members, and didn’t pay one red cent in taxes.

Van Roekel then reprised another union mantra – claiming that NEA must pursue “social justice.” He said,

You can’t have an organization with our core values and not care about social justice.

You can’t have a democracy and not care about social justice, whether it’s discrimination based on race or religion or sexual orientation, discrimination is discrimination and it’s wrong. And we as an organization have to stand up and say that.

The subject of social justice – its history and damage that it has caused – could fill volumes. But here is an abridged version:

Social justice (SJ) is based on the concepts of human rights and egalitarianism, and involves fostering economic equality through progressive taxation along with income and property redistribution. Around since the late 19th Century, this philosophy made its foray into education in the early part of the 20th Century when John Dewey, a progressive, and his socialist partner, George Counts, challenged teachers to replace the development of each student’s individual talents with a focus on social justice. The bedrocks of American culture and our economy — capitalism, individualism and competition — were frowned upon, to be replaced with distributive egalitarianism, collectivism and statism. Also paramount to the SJ movement was the socialization of children. Historically, schools had partnered with parents in reinforcing the values of the family. But over time, progressive educators came to assume a disproportionate role.

The progressive philosophy soon became part of the national zeitgeist with even President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, getting into the act. He said in a speech in 1914, “I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.” (Bold added.)

The effect of the SJ movement on education cannot be exaggerated. The changes were not dramatic at first, but over the years, SJ picked up steam. By the 1960s, SJ had become mainstream, especially in our nation’s colleges. University professors who spouted this poison did much damage, as many college students of that period became the tenured radicals who still infest our schools of higher education — most notably in the social science and education departments. And therefore today, our future teachers sit at the feet of ed school professors who teach them more about how to indoctrinate students than to prepare them for the more traditional “participation in public life as well as success in private life.”

As a result, in our elementary schools, instead of learning basic skills and the real history of the country, students are all too often taught nonsense like anti-racist math and that America is evil and can be saved only by a litany of progressive “isms”– environmentalism, feminism, socialism, etc. Several months ago, I reviewed Kyle Olson’s excellent book, Indoctrination: How ‘Useful Idiots’ Are Using Our Schools to Subvert American Exceptionalism, which documents how public schools today are being used to turn children away from the ideals that have made this country extraordinary.

By the time American students finish their K-12 indoctrination, they are primed for the big finale – the university. The seeds that were planted in the elementary schools come to a hideous bloom in college. Last month, the non-partisan California Association of Scholars came out with a scathing report, A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California. In his review of it, Peter Berkowitz wrote,

The analysis begins from a nonpolitical fact: Numerous studies of both the UC system and of higher education nationwide demonstrate that students who graduate from college are increasingly ignorant of history and literature. They are unfamiliar with the principles of American constitutional government. And they are bereft of the skills necessary to comprehend serious books and effectively marshal evidence and argument in written work.

Excluding from the curriculum those ideas that depart from the progressive agenda implicitly teaches students that conservative ideas are contemptible and unworthy of discussion. This exclusion, the California report points out, also harms progressives for the reason John Stuart Mill elaborated in his famous 1859 essay, “On Liberty”: “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”

Unfortunately, while many Americans do not ascribe to SJ tenets, too many of us are ignorant of its agenda or have become apathetic to its dangers. In 2009, admitted terrorist Bill “Mad Bomber” Ayers co-edited Handbook of Social Justice in Education, a 792 page “Hate America First” manifesto which brazenly instructs teachers how to spread the collectivist dream to America’s children. As many of us emit a collective yawn, the poisoning of young minds continues unimpeded.

Is it any wonder that the “Occupy” movement is saturated with young people who, beyond a few clichés, cannot articulate what exactly it is that they are demonstrating against? They just know that some people have more money than other people and that’s just not fair. The regnant attitude is, “If you’re rich and I’m not, you owe me.” If Dennis Van Roekel and his ideological comrades have their way, the dumbing down and radicalizing of American youth will ultimately destroy the very foundation of this society. But hey – everyone will be equal, all right – equally miserable.

About the author: 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.

“Indoctrination” – A Must Read For Parents, Taxpayers and Everyone Else

To a large extent, the progressives have taken over American education, are transforming it and are doing it in plain sight.

Indoctrination: How ‘Useful Idiots’ Are Using Our Schools to Subvert American Exceptionalism
is an invaluable book written by Kyle Olson, founder and CEO of the Education Action Group, an organization that is on the frontline of education reform and a champion of school choice.

In this brief and very readable book, Olson 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.

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. For example, “drill and kill” has been thrown on the refuse heap; we are now supposed to let our students “discover” learning. The “sage on the stage” has been replaced by the “guide on the side.” The only problem with these techniques is that they haven’t worked, but they do sound good (at least to the progressives.) As such, we are now raising a nation of dunces.

On the 2010 NAEP history 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.

So just what are we teaching them?

This is where Olson’s book shines. In chapter after chapter, he meticulously details lessons being foisted on students 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 who 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.

And while we are teaching our children the joys of class warfare, earth worship and the importance of union membership, other countries that are more serious about educating their young are cleaning our clocks in every international comparison available.

Actually, it is even worse than Olson suggests. There is one aspect of the progressive takeover that he gave short shrift to. Except for SB 48, an obscene bit of legislation in California which will bring the contributions of homosexuals and transgenders into the K-12 curriculum, there is little mention of the progressives’ ongoing effort to sexualize children. From Gay-Straight clubs in middle school (where parents do not have to be notified of their child’s involvement) to attempts to teach orgasm to eleven year olds, the radicals led by the National Education Association have been making alarming progress.

Another example of the progressives’ sexual agenda is which holidays are deemed important. 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.)

Clearly Indoctrination is a book that could leave citizens in a state of great despair. But fortunately, in the last chapter, Olson lists several important ways that parents and the general public can fight back. And if this country isn’t to become permanently transformed — fight back we must. None of our international enemies are as powerful, organized and, thus far, as successful as our home grown progressives who are bent on destroying public education as we know it in America. It is imperative that we all become more knowledgeable about what is going on in our schools and take action. Kyle Olson’s Indoctrination is an excellent place to start that process.

About the author: 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.