It is assumed that public schools focus on a simple philosophy, teach kids how to read, write and add. But data show chronic academic deficiencies among students.
Parents, aware of the systemic ills in public education, think their children’s schools are great and that problems happen “someplace else.” This creates a paradox. If the three R’s are supposed to be the guiding principles, is it possible that something else is driving the public school syllabus?
Colleges of Education, the National Education Association and textbook and curriculum developers embrace a therapeutic ideology broadly called “identity politics.” They believe injustice and victimization of members in certain social groups entitles people to special treatment. Public schools act as the surrogate host, transmitting this view to unsuspecting students who are not immune from its influence.
Traditional principles for learning the basics based on accountability, opportunity and responsibility have been replaced with developing a “social consciousness.” Let’s look at what some call education and others indoctrination.
• Political correctness, or not offending certain gender, racial, cultural, sexual or religious classes is one tenet. The county has used an American history textbook that has been characterized in a review as “a propaganda tract.” Its revisionist history and emphasis on the oppression of minorities, women and the poor taught white guilt instead of American exceptionalism. Competition and valedictorians have been replaced with speech codes and participation awards.
• Moral relativism/equivalency dictates there is no moral truth — natural rights or wrongs — and all value systems are equal, so judgments are evil. The county’s 9/11 curriculum says to “challenge (students) to find the commonalities,” between the 9/11 terrorists and Norway’s recent killer. The International Baccalaureate mission suspends reason by stating students should “understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”
• Social justice promotes equal outcomes because oppression has caused some people to have more than others. Florida school administers are evaluated on being “advocates for equity and social justice.” The NEA “opposes any immigration policy,” promotes reparations and believes “efforts to legislate English as the official language ... must be challenged.”
• Multiculturalism promotes “group-differentiated rights,” meaning special treatment is required under the ethos of diversity and tolerance. Florida teacher preparation programs demand teachers believe in “diversity” and practice “tolerance” before being certified.
• Sexism, sex education and family planning promote sexual orientation and gender identification. A Florida Celebrate Freedom Week lesson asks kids to “write a new Declaration of Sentiments from another viewpoint; e.g., gay rights.” The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, given in our schools is a morally questionable set of sexually explicit questions asked of children as young as 11. The NEA wants “the right to reproductive freedom,” “school-based family planning clinics,” and “rehabilitation for the assailant, and the protection of privacy” in sexual-assault cases.
• Bullying now means a focus on harassment against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. The school board has 13 pages of procedures on bullying.
• Globalism and environmentalism: The NEA says, “Allegiance to a nation is the biggest stumbling block to the creation of international government.” Sustainability and global warming are religion.
Last, gifted education has been co-opted by misusing Multiple Intelligence Theory to define everyone as gifted. This has created a false sense of self-esteem and superiority that glorifies egos at a cost to those truly needing services.
If identity politics is what parents expect, then there is reason to celebrate the success of creating socially conscious kids who can’t read, write or add. If parents don’t accept identity politics as education, they have a serious challenge: how to inoculate their children and stop the indoctrination before it’s too late.
Dean Kalahar teaches economics and psychology at Sarasota High School; he has authored three books, including “Practical Economics.”