“If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle”
― Sun Tzu, The Art of War
In the preceding “Know Thy Enemy” series - Prologue, I Education, II Media and III Celebrity Culture - I’ve identified three sources which have exposed America to a very dangerous disease. The systemic cause is a virus that manifests itself as a malignant form of socialism characterized by increasing central government control and progressively insistent demands for “social justice.” It’s accompanied by irrational thinking and a loss of will to exert either individual liberty or personal responsibility. As noted, exposure to the education system, media and the celebrity culture makes one vulnerable, especially the young.
Since we now know what ails us, and we know how it’s contracted, it’s time to clean up each contamination site and start the healing.
Today we’ll deal with the education system. A brief recap of the situation: we have a hardcore leftist agenda that has been incorporated and deeply embedded into the national education canon, curricula, texts and teachers training programs. The degree to which this indoctrination program is slanted in favor of the postmodern values of relativism, socialism and social justice and against the traditional Western Enlightenment values of individualism, objective truth, reason, logic and capitalism is stunning. With teachers unions entrenched like a bad nail fungus and completely onboard with the social justice (nee anti-America) agenda, how do we unwind this Gordian knot?
It’s important to recognize, from the beginning, that the knot as currently constructed cannot be unraveled. Like the original, it needs to be sliced wide open in order to release its power. But unless you are aware of some sword-wielding Alexander the Great character hiding in the wings, I suggest death by a thousand paper cuts. We all need to grab the nearest sharp instrument and start hacking away at it. Here we can learn from the enemy: we need to deploy an army of Davids. That’s how the Left implemented their agenda, that’s how we can reverse it. We however, don’t have an organized army of foot soldiers, and need to build one.
We begin our assault as our founders always intended, at the local level. Yes, ultimately we need to defund and dissolve the $72 billion/year waste factory that is the Federal Department of Education. But that’s only one head of the Hydra, there are thousands more, all of which are attached to a local school board. The local boards are where our power resides to actually force educational change. Generally the board is commissioned by a school district to:
- Set overall educational goals
- Develop a strategic plan to accomplish the goals
- Hire and oversee the superintendent
- Approve the school district budget
- Create policy for schools in the district
If the board doesn’t function as a rubber stamp – and many do - they have enormous power. They can approve or disapprove curriculum, textbooks, expenditures – and this means teachers’ contracts. Teachers’ unions negotiate with their local school district; usually the superintendent and the school board.
This is why taking control of the school board is paramount in slicing through the knot. And it isn’t that difficult to seize control at this level. If you can organize a committed group of local, conservative, education “activists” you can win; you can hold the power seat. How do you think the Left got control in the first place? Organize, agitate, campaign, and deliver.
Remember, the world is filled with sheeple, thanks in part to the education system you are trying to change. So if you outwork your opponents – who will initially assume they have the upper hand – you can win.
The benefit and simplicity of striking at the local school board level is that success can have a pretty immediate impact on the education program in your schools. Also, it is doable. So few voters pay attention to school board elections that with little funding and a lot of grass roots effort an organized group could form an alliance representing your core educational principles and run on a coalition platform. Such a united slate of school board candidates – with enough door-to-door ground support - could readily challenge and beat incumbent members who are either ineffective or opposed to the reforms you are championing. Remember, you don’t need to win the hearts and minds of everyone, you just need to persuade more people to get out and vote for you than your opponents do.
I’m not a natural organizer, but I’ve been around enough to know that the world is filled with people who are. You probably know at least a dozen. Enlist them, forcefully if need be. For the win. For the future. (Obama’s already used the WTF slogan, so be sure to choose something different.)
If you win, you can significantly improve the distorted curriculum and teaching bias in just one year by requiring that your school board approve not just the district’s goals and strategic plan but also the specific curriculum, text books and lesson plans being used in your schools.
Once seated, your new school board consortium will need constant encouragement to hang tough. Pressure from teachers, parents, unions will be brought to bear to get you to compromise “for the sake of the children,” particularly when it comes to contract negotiations. The inconvenience and disruption of a teachers strike will heap pressure of the board. Don’t cave. You know what’s right; there is no virtue in “resolving” differences if the underlying problems remain unsolved.
Aside from the socialist/social justice indoctrination program, the teachers union is the other elephant in the classroom. Many local school boards are out-lawyered by the teachers’ union’s (NEA or AFT) paid staff when it comes to the bargaining table. That means the school board has to lawyer-up too; by training themselves (web-based resources are available), ensuring adequate funding for legal contract negotiation support (school districts find a way to fund everything else, insist on more money here: you’re dealing with pros) and seek pro-bono assistance from local labor attorneys who can educate and prepare the Board to deal with not only the union’s lawyers, but to manage your own counsels as well so they are not the ones calling the shots. As the President likes to tell us, you need to ensure that you are all on a level playing field:
The NEA employs a corps of directors called UniServ. These directors assist local teachers unions with collective bargaining (supplying negotiation experience that often vastly outstrips the resources of a local school district) and serve as conduits for the union’s political messages
Once you have seized control of your school district, take your political skills to both the local and state levels to initiate even larger changes. Specifically, changes that effect collective bargaining rights of municipal and state employees - which includes teachers.
Government employees aren’t covered under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), so individual states have written their own shadow acts. This means they can be changed at the state level as well. And that’s exactly what some states are doing. For example, Kansas is currently seeking to bar unions from using voluntary paycheck deductions for politics. Others, notably Washington, Idaho, Utah, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan, have already passed “right-to-work” legislation that makes it illegal to require financial support of a union as a condition of employment. Experience in these states shows that, when given a choice, government employees will quit their union in large numbers - in Utah for example, teacher participation fell from 68% to 6.8%, a jaw-dropping 90% drop (and I wonder how many high school grads in, oh say the city of Detroit, could calculate that). Removing teachers from the union rolls removes money from the Democrats’ pockets to support candidates and causes you are most likely opposed to.
State level legislators also have a crack at the state’s education budget, the bulk of which is funded by the federal government. It will be good to learn what this money is used for, (hint: a surprising amount is for “nutrition”) in the event it is cut from the federal budget someday. No sense in letting the unions continue to dictate this allocation process either.
These measures may not solve all of the systemic problems that are part and parcel of an outdated teaching system that’s ferociously protected by their unions. It does, however, make significant inroads to gaining the kind of state-by-state control required to make bigger changes. More importantly this type of initiative begins to hack away at the dogged indoctrination and propaganda currently woven into the fabric of education. And as I already pointed out it removes a lot of union money from the political coffers of Democrats and progressives that would be used to fight further efforts to change the existing education paradigm which no longer makes sense in an age of web-based everything except education. 21st century instruction should look completely different than it did in the 19th century, and yet somehow it doesn’t.
Additionally, if teachers opt out of unions when given the choice, it presents a much more reasonable group of employees to deal with in terms of teaching expectations and outcomes, which are currently given little more than lip service. It opens the door to the elimination of the pernicious practice of granting teachers tenure for the simple accomplishment of having survived (under the union’s protection) for several years. It would likewise allow for the firing of worthless (or worse) teachers rather than carrying them on the backs of taxpayers until they’re eligible to retire, also on the backs of taxpayers. It provides a path to introduce a true merit pay system that will reward the most dedicated, hardest working teachers and deal effectively with those who are inadequate.
Most important it will give conservative Americans hope that we haven’t lost our country It can make us believe that standing together we can reverse the insidious progressive agenda that has been eroding our lives, our capital, our value system and our spirit. We need to know that we can win. The Left will constantly try to demoralize us, knowing that a demoralized enemy won’t fight. Look what happened to the conservative community after Romney lost.
Of course there are going to be progressive communities where no amount of grass roots work will put conservative values in play on the school boards. Unfortunately we must leave them to their own devices for the time being. If you live in such a community (basically anywhere along our “sophisticated coasts”) I’m sorry. But keep fighting because eventually these cities will be embarrassed by their schools’ pathetic educational performance compared to that of communities that have enacted reforms. They will be forced to change. The rest of us can all begin by taking back the heartland from the grasp of the socialist National Education Association.
A word with respect to private schools: they are remarkably similar to public schools in the indoctrination and propaganda departments (the teachers were all educated by the same Bill Ayers model-teacher education and training program). I presume as a paying customer you have a right to provide input and direction to the curriculum and texts – if not, and you don’t approve of the program, pull your child out.
I know homeschooling is an option, and a good one. But let’s be honest: most people are simply not up to the task for one reason or another. Judge not, they still need an option.
This game plan is that option - for them, for all of us: citizens taking up arms (metaphorically speaking) against the institutions and practices that are corrupting the education system. It’s not a panacea, it’s a battle plan. Because, make no mistake, this is a war. One side believes America was founded on and still reflects the moral values of freedom, equality and justice; and the other side thinks America is an immoral, unjust, racist nation (and always has been). Which side will you fight for? Which version of America do you want your children and grandchildren to be taught?
This is going to be a long war and our side needs the kind of tenacity and perseverance that the progressives who brought us to this dark place have been practicing for years.
Progressive policies did not miraculously pop up in the American landscape with the spring rain one year. No, first the policy makers spent decades tilling the soil, spreading another layer of manure every year. They introduced earthworms to churn the dirt for a few more years before the weed seeds and spores were finally propagated. Then, with nothing more than a little watering, the garden of evil germinated beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. Now we’ve got chickweed and horsetail all over the place, and it looks like they might just be take over, as weeds always do if not culled. Just like in Detroit:
Feral House Photos via Sweet Juniper
Now it will take tons of commercial strength Roundup, and maybe a few flame throwers to beat it back. But if not us, who? If not now, when?
I know none of this sounds revolutionary, or even very exciting. That’s the beauty of it. It’s simple. Not easy, for sure, but a simple stealth strategy for bringing power back to the local and state level, where citizens can still readily exert control if they chose to. As I said, I’m not an organizer. I can’t tell you how, only what. The Gordian knot must be severed and we, the people, are the only ones who can do it. Organize yourselves. Use any resources available to you: Facebook, email, PTA list, web-based marketing, other social media. Call your local Tea Party. Read Alinsky’s rules. And remember: if you know thy enemy like you know thyself, you can smite them.
Now get out there and win one for the Gipper.
UPDATE: As reported in Town Hall yesterday, the adoption of federal so-called “Common Core” will eliminate standards local control over K-12 curriculum in math and English.
Dianne Ravitch, educational historian reports in the Washington Post why she cannot support the standards.
Efforts to get the states to opt-out of this federal mandate are underway, but need to be ramped up immediately to thwart this federally mandated overreach. More later.
NOTE: This is part of the “Know Thy Enemy/ Beat Thy Enemy” series --
Cross-Posted on Patriot Action Network