The American Fourth Grade...
Our fourth grade is probably worse....
Today's public schools seem quite different and at least in the one my son is attending are following a clear left-wing agenda. If conservatives are outraged by the content of what's going on, real liberals should be upset by the violation of their basic principles. Yet I find that parents in the public school my son is attending this year usually have no idea of what's going on or at least no comprehension of its implications.
In many cases, the problem is not so much the individual items but the coherent and deliberate ideological direction of instruction or at least the lack of balance. For example, it’s great that fourth-grade students in Montgomery County, Maryland, are taught the civil rights’ movement song, “We shall overcome” in music class but they haven’t been also taught, say, “America the Beautiful ” or “My Country Tis of Thee.” Something unobjectionable in a broader context--it's good to learn about the civil rights' movement--becomes part of a specific design in which other things are omitted completely.
After about four months in this school year these fourth graders have not been taught anything about America except that it has oppressed those from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Native Americans in a variety of ways. They have read three books on the internment of Japanese during World War Two (and any attempt by students to give reasons why it was done or even talk about Japanese atrocities was dismissed by the teacher), as well as books on slavery and African-Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and Asian-Americans. Is this bad? Not as part of the curriculum but as the entire curriculum?
The ideological context here is that there are two classes of people in America: guilty whites and their non-white victims who are owed a vast debt. The emphasis is not on the success of a system which could make so many changes over time and absorb so many different groups which now constitute a single people. On the contrary, U.S. history is presented as a story of oppression. Note that this is not a conspiracy theory--it is the carefully formulated official curriculum for all schools in the county.
Now the teacher has told them that the election of Barack Obama as president is a great thing because it shows America isn’t racist. But the kids aren’t taught that the American ideal is to believe people should be dealt with as individuals solely based on their behavior and achievement. In other words, a candidate shouldn’t be supported or opposed based on their skin color (or other such factors) but because of character, experience, and stand on issues.
It is unimagineable that a 10-year-old student would dare stand up and give reasons why another candidate should have won. What does this say about the concept of freedom of speech? In fact, the kids were encouraged to parrot the line being given them.
Why should there be advocacy of a specific politician? I think that this is probably the first time in Amerian history that public schoolchildren were taught to support the election of a particular candidate. And it isn't just respect for the incumbent president. If John McCain had won would the students be taught that it was wonderful for a veteran who had braved torture in a prisoner camp was president? I doubt it.