Many, many different issues have managed to crack cultural surface during this period of political and social transformation that we’re all experiencing. Suddenly, nearly every common-sense person in America is taking the time to stop, look around, and ask: “Wait…what’s going on here?” While some have picked up on this earlier than others, we’re now all well aware that something is not right.
Say what you will about John McCain’s shortcomings as a Republican, for example, but even he recently and quite literally asked the very same question in Congress when addressing the Democratic Party leadership and their attempts to expeditiously ram through their destructive agenda. For one Progressive to ask that of others, it’s easy to see that someone needs to stop the car and open the hood.
One of the issues that lies imbedded in this fetid social backwash is that which can be found taking place in our institutions of alleged “higher learning.” When I was in college during the late 1980’s, I never really noticed too much out of the ordinary. Sure, I sensed that things were changing to an extent, but all cultures change and transform in different ways over the course of years. Still, it was a time when America still seemed to be decidedly America.
I did notice, however, a pervasive sense of what I’ll call “intellectually-elite wanna-bes,” students who always struck me as deliberately distracting themselves from everyday realities merely to impress one another. Sure, I thought it odd, but I generally kept to myself. In fact, one of my professors was Thomas Cobb, the author of Crazy Heart, which is now a potentially Academy-Award winning movie. His book had just recently been released at the time, and many of the “really smart” kids followed him around like groupies. Anyway, Dr. Cobb was a great guy and an excellent teacher, and I’d be the first to say that he made a definite impact in my understanding of literature and any ability that I possess as a writer.
By now, most–if not all–of us are completely aware that our colleges and universities have been almost totally hijacked by the extreme political left. Many blame the essence of our children’s mindsets as they emerge from college on the degree of indoctrination to which they’re currently being subjected. In fact, in a recent Fox News article, it’s pointed out that our high school seniors and college students are leaving their respective schools and entering the workforce with an appalling lack of basic knowledge about America. As Tucker Carlson pointed out on the Fox and Friends Sunday morning show, the particular study that this article references was based on 14,000 students, which more than constitutes a valid sample. Higher education, however, is far from the only source of the problem. Michael McPadden, conservative candidate for the congressional seat representing Virginia’s 5th District, astutely pointed out in an upcoming America’s Right interview that our institutions of higher education are now nothing more than finishing school. The indoctrination now arguably starts as early as kindergarten.
For the sake of this piece, though, I’d like to base much of what I have to say on the current dilemma in our high schools, as that is the source of much of my life experience. The political left in this country has allowed our public education system to corrode from the inside out, more than likely by design. I’ve a lot of points to make here, so stay with me. Read this in chunks and maybe make yourself a sandwich, if you’d like, because the larger picture that I’ll try to paint is a reasonably disturbing one.
Let’s begin with a recent revelation that came on Fox News Channel’s Huckabee on Saturday, February 5th. One of his guests that evening was Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel and Dean of Liberty University School of Law. He brought to the nation’s attention that the Texas Department of Education is currently considering radical changes to the textbooks that will be used in their school curricula. Many people who are not involved in education do not immediately understand the significance of this development. Sure, some may offer a thought about states’ rights, the Tenth Amendment, and more, but what everyone needs to understand is that as goes Texas’ educational decisions, so go the nation’s.
As one of the biggest states in the union, as well as one that spends a great deal on education, Texas drives the textbook industry. Texas has been a schoolbook depository since before the building which served as a perch for Lee Harvey Oswald. Should Texas move forward with these ridiculous decisions so deeply rooted in the leftist agenda, at least the next generation of our publicly-educated children will learn little about the foundation of American history, if not to altogether hate their own country. Some of the changes include the following:
- Removing references to Daniel Boone, General George Patton, Nathan Hale, Columbus Day, and Christmas.
- Including the cultural impact of hip hop music, ACLU lawyer Clarence Darrow, and the Hindu holiday of Diwali.
- Replacing the term “American” with “Global Citizen”– stating that students need to be shaped “for responsible citizenship in a global society” without any mention of citizenship in American society.
- Replacing expansionism and free enterprise with imperialism and capitalism.
Read the reference in order to get a sense of the entire picture and call or e-mail your input to these officials. All contact information is included on the site.
It’s important to remember that as I discuss particular issues here, one should be sure to couch them in a larger ideological context. Think back to last summer. A lot was happening in this country, as for seemingly the first time in the lives of some everyday Americans, they were becoming politically active; they had seen that this administration was attempting to jerk this country to the extreme left, Glenn Beck had begun exposing the vast underbelly of the Democrats’ agenda (actually assuming the role of a ‘history teacher’ of sorts, which I can’t help but believe is by design and meant to symbolically counteract what’s taking place in our schools and colleges) and, consequently, more people had begun reading up on history and issues, most notably the extent to which the Constitution was being violated.
Speaking to this point, more people began to see the general leftist similarities shared by the ideologies of Progressivism, Communism and, thanks to inappropriate comparisons made by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Nazism. This is obviously not the space to go into a long, drawn-out examination of the political and economic philosophies of each; I’d suggest, however, that if you truly want to understand the manner in which a leftist ideologue views the concept of ‘education’, reading up on the very words of some of these adherents is an absolute necessity.
To this end, it’s helpful to look at the educational machinery of Nazi Germany. Remember, when the Allies were victorious at the end of World War II, we defeated Germany – we did not defeat Nazism. That’s an idea, and one cannot defeat an idea. That’s why there’s extraordinary truth in an old expression: “a single martyr is worth more than ten posturing leaders.” Anyway, most people who are familiar with history are quite well aware that once World War II was over, America took in many prominent Nazis in an attempt to take advantage of their scientific prowess. Unfortunately, there was a lot of badness that came with making that deal with the devil, not the least of which is that these “former” Nazis continued to cling to their philosophical and political viewpoints and no doubt continued to spread their ideas.
It’s important to note that the Nazis believed in an outcome-based educational system rather than achievement-based one, in which a student would be required to be proficient in his or her academic areas before moving on. I can speak to that point in a specific example. One of my friends, someone who works in the computer industry, once came across a 1928 high school proficiency exam for the New York State Department of Education. Both my buddy and I are reasonably intelligent guys but, well, let’s just say that in 1928 we wouldn’t have been. 80 to 90 years ago, there was a lot more expected of our young people.
The National Socialists strove for more of a “whole person” approach, one that more directly targeted the worldview, rather than the education, of the young person. The basic tactics that they utilized in trying to transform their society were to target the children first, to emphasize political correctness, to require community service, to attempt to re-write history, to systematically re-train their teachers’ way of thinking, and to silence any and all opposition.
Does any of this sound familiar? Wait–better yet–how about all of it?
Should we be in any way surprised that the Texas State Department of Education is considering these changes to our history curricula, for Heaven’s sake? Of course we shouldn’t. As I pointed out in an earlier piece here at AR, the people who are now calling many of the shots in this country are the ones who have unwittingly submitted to the mental terraforming that has been in place over the course of the past 40 years. Nor should we expect them to look at and admit the truth to themselves, because it would probably be far and away too painful for them. They’re now bound to this stuff, if for no other reason than the stability of their own identities.
Just to be silly for a moment–please, allow me a small ‘guilty pleasure’ here–if you’re so inclined, I can guarantee you right now that you’ll never watch Star Trek the same way again. The reason that I even bother to mention this is that in a particular episode of Star Trek:Voyager entitled “Dark Frontier,” one of the primary characters is confronted with another of the Borg’s various schemes to “assimilate” humanity. On the Star Trek website, that encounter is explained in the following fashion (emphasis mine):
As Seven watches in shock, the Queen explains how the virus will work; it will infect every life form
on the planet, assimilating the planet’s life slowly. By the time the population realizes what is
happening, half of it will be drones. Seven gazes at her, eyes wide, realizing that they are
planning to release this virus into Earth’s atmosphere. She tries to raise the seemingly valid
objection that such a method would be inefficient, as it would take many years to yield results. The
Queen merely responds that they have waited this long; they can wait the required period.
A rather creative individual even chimed in on YouTube with the following clip:
If we’ve learned anything about the political Left, they’re nothing if not patient. From their perspective, the long, time-consuming re-educational process seems to be bearing excellent fruit.
Consequently, we’re now beginning to see some remarkable developments in education, for two reasons: first, the Left feels–probably somewhat justifiably–that not only is their time now but also that they may never, ever have this chance again. The political tumblers have aligned for them. Second, because the Left is moving so quickly, people are beginning to look up and ask the aforementioned question: “wait, wait…what’s going on here?”
The question now is whether it’s too late, since we’re now living our lives already surrounded by drones. They might not be Star Trek drones, but they’re drones nonetheless.
Let’s take a look at some of the things that are beginning to unfold. Beyond the most important issue, namely the forced political re-education of our children, merely the most practical issue is the debilitating effects of the unionized workforce in America, and not only in the field of education (obviously, one could also argue that unions are also part of the prevailing leftist political philosophy). Of the several “retired” public school teachers who work at our school (we’re pretty selective in that regard), one is an older gentleman who teaches Health. A staunch conservative like myself, he was talking with me recently about the unions in general. He said that shortly before his father succumbed to cancer back in 1970, he told him (since he himself was early into his career and a part of the teachers’ union) that unions made this country great during the 1940’s and 1950’s, but by the time of his death they were beginning to take over the country.
That was 40 years ago.
Simply put, unions have priced themselves out of existence in a free-market, capitalist economy. Look at the UAW. There are no more sources of revenue, no more blood to be squeezed from the proverbial stone. The towns and states are broke. It’s no wonder that Andy Stern and SEIU are moving to unionize the workforce of the entire planet — they’ve bled the United States dry! As this applies to education, there are two points on which people should now dwell a bit more closely: first, experience clearly shows that the more money you simply dump into or throw at schools, the more and more counterproductive it becomes, as it seemingly just makes the people involved fatter and lazier; second, unless the unions are willing to take several steps backward and make serious concessions in their collective bargaining agreements, it’s only a matter of time before pressure bursts the valve.
One of the most obvious examples has taken place here in little Rhody. The Superintendent of the Central Falls School District recently met with union leadership and informed them in no uncertain terms that unless the teachers agreed to certain concessions, they would all be summarily dismissed. The teachers called her bluff, which apparently was not a bluff at all, because when her imposed deadline came and went, she fired each and every one of them. Further, the students backed the Superintendent.
What does that tell you?
Even Glenn Beck chimed in on the watershed events at Central Falls. Of course, Superintendent Gallo is going to have a lot of legal issues with which she’ll have to deal, but she is in no sense backing down. The public rationale–for the sake of the record, I suppose–is that Central Falls High School is a notoriously low-performing school (which it is) and has been for years. That’s her justification, but it’s clearly cover for the fact that the town simply can no longer afford to pay the staff. Central Falls is a town that is beset by poverty and illegal immigration, so when one considers the combination of outrageous financial compensation being doled out to teachers who are not working, poverty, and illegal immigration, the bigger picture is that Central Falls has become a Leftist’s paradise.
This issue has also reared its head in my own family as my sister-in-law, a hearing and speech pathologist for the Warwick public schools, recently did a bit of ad hoc investigative work and discovered that the school department was preparing to bring in a private company to replace her and the other pathologists in her department. When she told me about this, I merely responded that while I felt terrible for her, it’s only going to be a matter of time before the union leadership turns on its own members, lest they lose their jobs themselves.
The public sector can no longer function in its current state. Many school districts in Rhode Island are even cutting sports programs (my own Alma Mater, North Providence High School, recently merged its hockey program with Johnston High School’s. Considering that the two schools are pretty strong adversaries, I’m wondering how ‘team chemistry’ is developing on that squad) in order to be able to pay the teachers, all the while forgetting that school athletics are, in the abstract sense, just as much a part of a young person’s education as books and binders, not to mention the source of some of the most important memories that students will take away from high school. Want to drive kids away from school? Cut the sports programs.
Public education is even venturing into the theatre of the bizarre. Remaining in Rhode Island for the moment, there’s a movement afoot up here in which some school districts want to attach “chips” of some sort to the backpacks of students, so that their whereabouts can constantly be monitored. Ostensibly, the justification is going to be offered that it’s all in the name of child safety, but what should we learn from this? How long before we’re all “chipped?” They can afford to “chip” students’ backpacks, but they can’t afford athletic programs? In what universe does this make sense?
And then, of course, Jeff broke the webcam-spying episode last week here at America’s Right–I was really hoping he’d end up on Fox and Friends–but as I pointed out to Jeff in an exchange that we shared at that time, why should we even be surprised by this? I realize that I’m pre-judging to a certain extent, but it’s a safe bet that we’re talking about people with leftist mindsets. This is about control. In Utah, one of the school Districts out there recently suggested eliminating the 12th grade. Seriously. Doing so would apparently slice millions off the school budget.
I don’t doubt it. I wonder — did anyone on the local school board look at these people like confused dogs with their heads tilted?
The Cato Institute even recently ran a piece in which it labels the public school system in the Unites States “one big jobs program.” Really? I’ve been saying that for the past twenty years — while I’ll be the first to say that yes, there are in fact some very idealistic teachers in the public schools, people who care a great deal about their students and do their very best by them despite the overwhelming obstacles that are placed in front of them on nearly an everyday basis, the public schools are in the end about jobs – not education.
So, how do we begin solving this problem?
I think, unfortunately, that before we can get started, this entire political reality has to completely resolve itself through elections and bottom out in terms of financial consequences. When the time is right, though, I’m hopeful that people will begin to see that there’s only one route back to sanity in America, in education or otherwise: privatization.
In the case of the public schools, believe it or not, I think it would actually be possible to privatize them and still have them remain public entities. The schools are only going to improve if parents are allowed genuine choice as to where their children attend school, which by nature leads to genuine competition. Is it any wonder that as this decade has progressed that we’ve seen more and more of a push for both school vouchers and charter schools? But even in this case the unions manage to place a ceiling on growth. If I’m not mistaken, most, if not all, teachers’ unions call for a limit on the number of charter schools that are allowed in a given state or district. Naturally, if parents were given a real choice, they’d abandon the public schools in droves and all the union employees would begin to lose their jobs.
How hard would it be to take the public schools in a given region–say, for example, a 20-mile radius–and offer the parents the right to send their children to any of the schools in that area? If the unions were dissolved, town tax obligations were removed, and parents were required to pay a “tuition” equal to the national average of the per-pupil cost to educate the child (which, if I’m not mistaken, is approximately $8,500/year), you watch how fast those schools turn around, assuming that the teachers wanted to hold onto their jobs. It would be non-profit driven, naturally, which is something into which all Leftists can really sink their teeth, since they love those non-profits.
Further, if one were inclined to explore this even further, what should prevent us from looking on teachers as private contractors, by which they could negotiate their own contracts? A system such as this–admittedly radical–would certainly require loosely-structured boundaries of some sort, but it would also without a doubt lead to the most talented and resourceful teachers educating our children, not those who are beholden to the system and the curricula being handed to them.
Of course, there would be problems, expected and unexpected, that would need to be ironed out ahead of time and that would result from the pecuniary interests of those who just want easy jobs. For example, in the sense that I offered up the idea that public school “tuitions” could be based on the average per-pupil educational costs, one would also have to realize that there are many, many special-needs students, young people that require more attention and resources, which by nature requires more money. If my scenario were to come to fruition in some way, shape, or form, we’d no doubt begin to see a new form of “diagnosis abuse” begin to emerge. Let me explain.
One of the current abuses that is allowed to fester in the current educational landscape, in both the public and private sector, is that of parents’ “searching” for the most desirable diagnosis that will afford their children the most beneficial services at school. From my own experience, I’d have to say that the malady that is most widely-abused nowadays is ADD and ADHD. If a young person is diagnosed with this particular condition, he or she is in line for numerous advantages throughout the course of the school day and year. Of course, there are those students who genuinely are afflicted with ADD and truly require things such as extended time on exams, preferential seating, and additional time with instructors; however, there are those parents who actively search out this type of situation, since having things such as untimed SAT’s can be a big help in procuring acceptance to that first-choice college.
How does this apply to the model I’ve suggested? It’s simple, really. I could envision a scenario by which “diagnosis abuse” morphed more into having additional funds procured for the school in question, thereby protecting a friend’s job. Theoretically, it would no longer be about the advantages of the student but of the adults.
In the end, therefore, what I’ve offered up as the initial thoughts for potential solutions in public education would no doubt be fraught with problems that I or anyone else, for that matter, hadn’t considered. I think we’d all agree, though, that things need to change soon, they need to change fast, and they need to move in the direction of some form of privatization.