Come for the Politics, Stay for the Pathologies

Monday, December 1, 2008

Government-Education Complex: AGITPROP 101, PART 2: Curricula and Social Engineering

It’s 9:00 am. Do you know what your children are learning?

In this day of solicitous, competitive parenting, can you conceive of parents willingly turning their child over to a school with a curriculum geared to the least common denominator? One that’s designed to systematically indoctrinate him with socialist, anti-capitalist concepts? Yet nearly 90% of American families send their children off to the local public schools for just such and education.

Between the embedded social engineering/indoctrination and the dumbing down of the academic curriculum, public education today hosts serious and systemic problems. Despite a multitude to cries to the contrary, none of these problems are due to inadequate funding. The dumbing-down of academic subjects springs from a combination of anti-intellectualism, political correctness and emphasis on self-esteem. The indoctrination program springs from an overarching doctrine of “social justice” that has been embraced and taught in many education programs across the country. It’s been incorporated in textbooks and spoon fed to children by teachers -- many of whom themselves have been indoctrinated. Aside from the obvious concerns this raises for freedom and democracy, this educational milieu does not bode well for the United States place in an increasingly competitive world.

Dumb and Dumber: Self-esteem and Political Correctness


The self-esteem movement is a misguided 1980’s concept that held that self-esteem was at the root of all mental health and therefore more important than any other aspect of child rearing. Having glommed onto this without any hard scientific evidence (another touchstone of current education trends), all subsequent education theory held that praise, self esteem and performance would rise and fall together.

It turns out that was just plain wrong: in fact, after conducting repeated studies, it seems now the only scientifically established correlation between performance and self-esteem proves to be negative: as many dismayed parents have suspected all along.

Not surprisingly, given the disconnect between self-esteem and performance, average student performance deteriorated. In order to avoid the child’s dreaded loss of self-esteem, less challenging course work was introduced so as not to leave any child behind. This ushered in a raft of textbooks of stultifying, embarrassingly inane content. History books have, according to the American Textbook Council, “lost a lot of literary quality as we’ve replaced the core text with pictures, white space and all sorts of glossy graphics.” The visuals did not enhance what used to be a careful explanation of the causality of events in history – they replaced them. Minus the causality, history is a meaningless list of dates.

And check out what passes for “literature” at the 8th grade level in some schools. Not Hemmingway, Shakespeare, Burns or Browning. Not even Homer. They’ve been replaced by drivel the likes of which children should not be exposed to beyond the second grade. “Stories” that sound more like reading lessons than literature. Nothing that could conceivably be interesting enough to get youngsters thinking and wondering about the world they live in. They contain no concepts that would challenge a 13 year-old’s view of the world, or stretch his intellectual ability to apply abstract concepts to unknown situations.

Despite a barrage of articles, research and adult observations about the failure and sheer foolhardiness of the self-esteem dogma, it has become deeply embedded into every aspect of child rearing and education and continues to dumb down the curriculum along the way. To date, education programs and school curriculums have done away with competition, goal scoring, red pencil marks, criticism, and even right and wrong answers. Unfortunately, in the quest to establish and maintain children’s self esteem, failure has ceased to be an option (we’ve effectively eliminated it) and true achievement has been replaced with exercises that don’t include right or wrong answers, or any real winners or losers. School districts have ensured that everyone gets a trophy or award for simply showing up. Over half of the students are on the honor roll, and the majority of them get straight A’s.(this might have been considered a red flag in an earlier era.) In fact, all A’s isn’t good enough anymore to ensure high school valedictorian status. For that you need extra credit all four years and even then you’ll have to share the honor with 4-8 of your classmates with equal scores. (God forbid that one is chosen from this “equally” rated group based on something more discretional than their scores. Heavens no. Let’s not expose Kristen and Justin to the real world yet! By simply adding up the scores, common sense and the pariah of “judgment” are removed from the equation all together. Just as they are with “zero tolerance” policies.) Course work in the basics – reading, writing and arithmetic – no longer involves right and wrong answers, but a sliding scale of correctness. The aspiration of an entire generation will be to aim “close enough for government work.”

Political Correctness

The other well documented trend, with roots in the 70’s but fully formed in the 80’s, that has assaulted the quality of public education is political correctness. The constraints and censorship required in the name of avoiding anything that might conceivably be considered offensive, and to include any group previously left out or slighted, has contributed significantly to brain dead textbooks and lessons. Hand in hand with self-esteem, political correctness requires teachers and textbooks to jump through hoops to avoid even the slightest whiff of offense. Is anyone surprised that the more headstands and backward somersaults we go through to be inoffensive, the more offense everyone takes at everything?

How exactly has political correctness impacted course content? It began with textbook companies bowing to the pressure of “bias and sensitivity” panels that were established by school boards to ensure that all forms of racism and sexism were excised (i.e., censored) from texts used in their district. But once textbook companies succumbed to these demands they opened themselves up to every special interest group on earth with an agenda to promote ; and they are legion. Under the guise of not committing one of the seven deadly sins of “bias”, i.e. invisibility, stereotyping, imbalance/selectivity, unreality, fragmentation/ isolation, linguistic bias, and cosmetic bias, special interest groups came out of the woodwork to demand either inclusion or exclusion. It’s no longer sufficient to eliminate offensive references, now we must practice politically correct inclusion as well. The Gay/Lesbian/Transgendered Alliance wanted texts that show that Bobby might have two mommies, or two daddies, or mommy and daddy are one and the same. History books must include accomplishments of Native Americans and African Americans. Great – If they stick to the facts. But now we have history texts that put forth the “fact” that the American Constitution is based on Iroquois tribal law, not the Magna Carta. This is “pressure-group” history; in which historical events are altered in order to reflect the “sensitivities” of various interest groups: women, blacks, native Americans, homosexuals, etc.. Not only does it skew reality, but it obscures it.

In The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict What Students Learn, Diane Ravitch, a distinguished historian of education points out among other things how censorship affects "readers" (books that are used in teaching youngsters how to read), literature anthologies, and history books:

“The language police force the writers and editors of textbooks to avoid so many topics that the books are disconnected from the real world that students experience every day. The characters in schoolbook stories must not speak in dialects, ponder suicide, face fire hazards or have poor eating habits. No one is allowed to encounter scorpions, rats, roaches or any other animals that anyone, anywhere might regard as scary or dirty. No one ever exhibits disrespectful or illegal behavior. No one steals, smokes, drinks alcohol, gets into fights, or tells lies. No one talks about politics, religion, unemployment, weapons, violence, child abuse, or animal abuse. Real life doesn't intrude.”

In the name of producing inoffensive textbooks that don’t infer “right” and “wrong” answers or behaviors, textbook publishers are turning out some of the most inane, bland copy ever conceived. They clearly don’t offend, but they don’t do much by way of informing either. Dumb, dumb, dumb. Imagine Plato, Shakespeare, Twain, Fitzgerald or Hemmingway ”scrubbed” in order to avoid the language police’s 7 deadly sins. Even the Bible would fail to meet the tests (not that a Bible would ever be allowed on the premises of a public school. Although the Koran has apparently been scrubbed well enough to be deemed acceptable, as it appears regularly in classes intended to sensitize children to the multiculturalism of Muslims.)

And as bad as this dumbed-down, politically correct world is, that’s not even the bad news. What’s worse is the social agenda that has been injected into every aspect of education, indoctrinating your children every hour they sit in a classroom. Doubt this? Check out the agenda supported by the public school teachers union – National Education Association (NEA). They are one of the largest lobbies in Washington and in recent years have lobbied for the following:

· Abortion
· Student access to teaching about the use of birth control
Coordination with liberal or pro-abortion community agencies, such as Planned
· The normalization of homosexuality
· Increased gun
· Federal childcare, birth through age eight
· Free access
of children to all media and material, including internet pornography and
age-inappropriate printed material
· Increased federalism in education
Federal, state and local hate crimes legislation
· Total federal assumption
of welfare
· Environmentalism
· United Nations, including the
ratification of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child
Comprehensive school based health care, including access to birth control and
“family planning” services.

Fairly light on “education”, heavy on “social agenda”. Some might call this a “liberal” agenda with a tilt to the left. Even if you personally believe in this entire agenda, do you believe that it’s the State’s place to instill these decidedly political principals in your offspring?

“Social Justice”

If this leftist tilt doesn’t disturb you, hang on, there’s more. The “social justice” platform doesn’t just lean left, it takes a hard left turn head-on into the wall of socialism. The philosophy of “social justice” has become firmly entrenched in the Education schools of most colleges and universities. This philosophy teaches the subjection of the individual will for the benefit of the masses. This patently communist theory is fueling the whole contemporary education platform. What exactly is social justice? For the liberal interpretation it is a radical philosophy that is opposed to such basic American traditions as individual justice and free market economy. Nothing critical mind you, just the basis of the political system upon which our republic was founded. It supports a major redistribution of wealth through exorbitant taxation, and isn’t fond of personal property rights either.

This radical doctrine holds that America is an oppressive society that is systemically racist, sexist and classist and therefore institutionally discriminates against women, non-whites, working Americans and the poor. One of the leaders of this educational philosophy is William Ayers – yes, that William Ayers: former leader of the terrorist Weather Underground, self proclaimed “ street fighting communist” and a friend of Obama’s (although we’re not allowed to talk about that). Mr.. Ayers is distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He’s also editor of the Columbia Teachers College 12 volume series “Teaching for Social Justice” which is used in numerous education programs across the country. An analysis of the curriculum reveals a radical philosophical belief that free-market capitalism – which is defined by Lee Anne Belle, director of the education program at Columbia’s Barnard College, as an “economic system that structures and requires” poverty – is the most oppressive practice amongst a sea of oppressive practices. And this belief is why she and others think it is necessary to teach social justice. What future teachers are taught is that in order to understand the magnitude of American evil, we must illuminate America’s callous oppression and exploitation of numerous groups through course offerings that focus on racism, classism, sexism, heterosexism, and ableism (a term to describe discrimination against people with disabilities).

The “Isms” of Liberalism

And if the social justice political agenda is being taught to the next generation of teachers, you can be assured that it’s also been embedded in textbooks and disseminated along with the rest of the social engineering curriculum K-12. It plays hand in glove with all of the other “isms” that comprise modern liberalism, and are likewise promulgated in the curriculum. Here are some of them:

· Relativism: white Europeans imperially, arrogantly (and incorrectly)
assumed their culture to be superior to that of other cultures and imposed their
ways on all the gentle indigenous peoples. Our enlightened position now is that
all things can be equally correct and good. How can we possibly make judgments
concerning the morals, values or cultural proclivities of others? Being
judgmental only indicates your deeply held biases.
· Multiculturalism: every
culture is equally valuable. There is no way you can effectively compare the
value of aboriginal lifestyle and contributions to civilization to Western
culture. It’s all good. But as Saul Bellow famously challenged: “Show me the
Zulu Tolstoy.”

· Collectivism: thought to be superior to individualism since it takes a
village and we all need to work together and share everything so that no one is
left behind, disadvantaged or taken advantage of, and no one is better, smarter
or richer. (This philosophy is also known as socialism, but few will cop to that

· Sexism/Feminism : recognizes that white men have oppressed women for ever,
continue to do so to this day, and the playing field must be leveled. No, make
that women must be given special rules and rights in order to atone for past

· Racism: recognizes that white men have also oppressed people of color for
ever, continue to do so to this day, and the playing field must be leveled. No,
make that people of color (black first, brown second, red third and yellow a
distant forth) must be given special rules and rights in order to atone for past

· Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgenderism: there is no such thing as a “normal”
sexual orientation. All orientations are equally valid. Recognizes that
heterosexuals (generally white, male heterosexuals) have systematically
discriminated against all other sexual orientations, continue to do so to this
day, and therefore the playing field must be leveled. No make that
gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered individuals must be given special rules and
privileges in order to atone for past sins.

· Naturalism: Nature rules! If it’s “natural” it’s good and good for you, and
nature knows best. Therefore we must replace our belief in and worship of God
with a belief in and worship of Nature.

· Environmentalism: the “religion” of naturalism: we worship the earth,
sacrifice to it and blindly believe that recycling our plastic bags will save us
from destruction because we are good and humble servants of the living,
breathing, cognizant EARTH. Oh yeah, and global warming is killing the planet,
but every moron knows that.

These “positive” isms are promoted and promulgated on all fronts, but there are likewise a few “negative” isms that, if discussed at all, must be portrayed unfavorably:


Conservatism: an unenlightened political philosophy that doesn’t care about
the poor, hungry and oppressed masses.

· Capitalism: an inherently “unfair” economic system that oppresses the poor,
the disadvantaged and the disenfranchised.

· Individualism: an unholy cult of personal achievement that ignores the
superior principal of collectivism: off-the-ranch thinkers who contribute in no
positive way to the well being of the village. (Kind of makes you wonder why all
the “self-esteem” crap is so important to these educators.)

· Rationalism (including the dreaded judgmentalism): applying logic to a
social, political or economic problem is an unenlightened (see “conservatism”)
way to reach a solution. It is far superior to get in touch with your inner self
and just see what feels right.

We have the unfortunate convergence of the self-esteem movement, political correctness and social engineering movements. By imposing themselves on the public school curriculum we wind up with ideological content incorporated into every subject either blatantly or subtlety. This is the very definition of propaganda. Yet few perceive this as a threat to life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness. The power that is wielded by this system is awesome and frightening. What enters the classroom in one decade emerges as mainstream 15 years later.

Real-life Curriculum: Sins of Commission and Omission

Are you still curious as to how these trends and beliefs translate to actual curriculum?

Since math should consist of a series of concepts, building on themselves, that teach children to think logically you might think it exempt from such nonsense found in other disciplines. But of course it isn’t, as anyone even vaguely familiar with the new math and the new, new math can attest. The new, new math is referred to, not incorrectly, as fuzzy math.
Here we have 3rd grade problems in math such as “if math were a color, it would be___, because___”. Need I remind you that in China by the time a kid is eight he’s mastered the abacus? It has probably not crossed their minds what color math might be because they already understand it to be an abstract concept that has no color, but does have multiple practical applications. Also in the math classrooms across America we find such texts as the Addison-Wesley “Secondary Math: An Integrated Approach”. This text promotes “team math” in which several children are given one part of a problem to work on and then the team must agree on a solution by consensus. The approach rejects objectively correct answers developed by individual students in favor of a groupthink process that arbitrarily guesses at the answers. End result: not only can your child not make change without the benefit of a computerized cash register, but he has learned to behave like a sheep; to cave in to the loudest, most assertive member/s of a group – whether they are correct or not. That, my friends, is a two-fer: social engineering and dumbing down.

And still, there’s more. David Horowitz identifies a Northeastern University’s Master of Education program that offers a course for K-12 teachers called “Teaching Mathematics for Social Justice.” Graduate teachers might use a textbook titled “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers.” The authors of this swell text include “teaching suggestions” in the book which include exercises that calculate the cost of the Iraq war, a “math project about racial profiling” and a lesson on reading graphs that detail corporate control of U.S. media.

Meanwhile, in Massachusetts, they adopted a curriculum for Math class – that listed as the number one objective anti-racism! See for yourself here:,2933,146684,00.html

How about Geography? Geography no longer concerns itself with spatial aspects of human settlement (i.e. maps), but has achieved a higher calling:

“An explicit objective of critical geography is to contribute to egalitarian social
transformation and justice through activism that supports and contributes to
relevant political struggles” (Desbiens & Smith 1999: 381).

English literature? It’s been dumbed down to the level of Dick and Jane right through the eighth grade. Charles Dickens, Wordsworth, et al have been replaced with stories rife with leftist sentiments of egalitarianism, peaceful resolution of conflicts and other politically correct interactions. How do such devices as sentence structure and diagramming, gerunds, nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, dangling participles fare? Not so well. Who needs them for text messaging anyway?

History? Our founding fathers were all morally, financially or sexually corrupt. Abraham Lincoln was a hypocrite who really didn’t care about the black man. and so on and so forth. We hate ourselves so much we might as well be French.

But just as important as what is taught, is what’s not taught: capitalism (in any positive way) for example. Dr. Sanity has this observation on her blog “ The moral case for capitalism is not taught in our schools, nor is it argued much in our culture. In fact it has been more or less universally accepted by the intellectual elites that systems such as communism and socialism are "morally superior" to capitalism (hence more "socially just")--even though in practice such systems have led to the death and enslavement of millions, and to those unlucky enough not to die from them, they have led to the most horrible shrinking and wasting of the human soul.”

She continues: “One very harmful result of this sorry educational situation is that there are few people – even among those who stalwartly defend the free market, who understand and appreciate the essential morality of capitalism. Certainly our children, taught by ideological purists…who are leftover from the 20th century debacle of socialist/communist tyranny -- never even have a chance to rationally consider any ideas not approved by their aggressively collectivist teachers, so intent at quashing those aspects of human nature they don’t like.”

We’re raising a generation that disdains the very foundation on which their past has been built and their future resides. We are in the process of extinguishing our way of life by our own hand because the academic intelligentsia have deemed it hollow and wanting. Most nations would call that cultural suicide. We call it public education.