As millions of children return to public school, it’s a good idea to again examine what they are being taught and what is being left out. It also offers an annual opportunity for parents to ask if their kids are being educated or indoctrinated.
At the recent convention of the National Education Association in Orlando, Florida, reports told of delegates waving rainbow signs proclaiming: “freedom to teach” and “freedom to learn.” The demonstrators oppose parental concerns over what they regard as pornography in certain books, an opposition that has tarred them as “book banners.” Peculiar how it’s “academic freedom” to introduce books that promote behavior and ideas many parents oppose, but “censorship” to object to them.
The NEA adopted two amendments supporting “reproductive rights” for women. “Forced motherhood is female enslavement” read a second amendment. This is appropriate for prepubescent children, or students of any age? The delegates continue to favor the LGBTQ-plus agenda, which professes to advocate for sexual and gender equality under the law. They also approved a measure supporting “asylum for all.”
How is any of this preparing children to compete with China and other nations in math, reading, and science?
The New York Times reported last October: “U.S. students in most states and across almost all demographic groups have experienced troubling setbacks in both math and reading. … In math, the results were especially devastating, representing the steepest declines ever recorded on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), known as the nation’s report card, which tests a broad sampling of fourth and eighth graders and dates to the early 1990s.”
The COVID-19 pandemic is blamed for some of the decline, but as the NAEP notes, the trend has been headed downward for many years.
It hasn’t always been this way. Joel Belz, a columnist for World magazine, recalled in 2006 a 1924 education pamphlet designed to prepare eighth graders for high school. It had the lengthy title “Stephenson’s Iowa State Eighth Grade Examination Question Book.” Belz thinks most high school seniors today would find the questions challenging.
They include arithmetic: “A wall 77 feet long, 6-1/2 feet high, and 14 inches thick is built of bricks costing $9 per M. What was the entire cost of the bricks if 22 bricks were sufficient to make a cubic foot of wall?”
Grammar: “Define five of the following terms: antecedent, tense, object, conjugation, auxiliary verb, expletive, reflexive pronoun.”
Civil government: “Name three township, three county, and three state officers and state what office each person holds … “
I’m betting not many students today could name their members of Congress, much less local officials.
Other categories were geography, physiology (“beginning with food in the mouth, trace the course of digestion, naming the juices with which the food is mixed and the results. What is the reason that spitting on the street is dangerous to the health of a community?”), history, music, and reading.
These were supported by a daily salute to the American flag and other expressions of patriotism.
Who decided these subjects and practices were unnecessary to a well-rounded education and equipping children to become good citizens and lead prosperous and healthy lives? Is it the teachers unions and other activists who see schools not as places for educating the next generation, but as indoctrination centers for their secular-progressive worldview?
Some parents have begun moving away from public schools. Increasing numbers are homeschooling their children or taking advantage of school choice programs.
For the rest, get them out now while you are still able to save their minds, spirits and the country.
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