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November 26, 2005

Propagandizing School Children

It's unfortunate that the modern liberal establishment that dominates the educational field deems it necessary to indoctrinate their captive young audience, there but for a legally required, important basic education, into the realm of leftist politics, the children's parents' views not a factor. As the left moves us further and further into their liberal political spectrum, they also seek to remove the rights of parents with opposing views to impart those views on their own children. In fact, they apparently prefer that children receive a "state education and upbringing" rather than one based upon their mothers' and fathers' doctrine.

The Nazis did the same thing in occupied countries during WW II, "the big one" and the U.S.S.R. also, as standard basic schooling procedure.

Michelle Malkin talks about one perfect example.

Fortunately in the case in point, the actions involved were those of an individual teacher as opposed to those of many entire faculties or school policies, but the point is there. It's a shame that a parent today has to worry as to what indoctrination his/ her children might be exposed to at the hands of those paid to educate them.

Posted by Seth at November 26, 2005 06:35 AM


I revere Michelle Malkin. She is wonderfully accurate, original, and entertaining. I have a problem with one of her Friday posts in which she bashes public education and public school teachers. I emailed Michelle the following letter, but I have received no response. I hope that my "open letter" will generate response from supporters of Michelle, and maybe even from Michelle herself.
Most of all, I would love to see the problems of our public education system debated honestly, and realistic solutions presented.

Good Morning Michelle:

It is my privilege to have the opportunity to write to you. I respect you greatly, and I have linked to you from my blog many times. You are a remarkable person, and I will persist in reading your insightful work and continue to be instructed by you. I believe in conservative ideals, and you will find that I pontificate upon many conservative topics in regular postings at my web log: the Thespis Journal. While I am a strong advocate of portfolio accountability and comprehensive assessment for public school students and teachers, and I believe that as a nation we should aspire to the ideal of allowing competitive market forces to assist us in creating stronger public schools, I will also vigorously support strong public schools as the foundation of our republic and the hope of future generations. As with many institutions in our society, there is room for significant improvements in the public schools.

I am writing in regards to your recent comments about Bret Chenkin, social studies and English teacher at Mount Anthony Union High School in Vermont. Your commentary is certainly fitting. Mr. Chenkin’s behavior was inappropriate and inexcusable. As you noted, the Superintendent addressed the behavior in a firm and uncompromising manner. The school district should employ a zero tolerance policy for this type of unprofessional and irresponsible behavior. While the teacher’s behavior in this instance is indefensible, the correlation you have drawn between Mr. Chenkin’s actions and a parental decision to avoid “government schools” is an intellectual leap beyond the horizon.

For every Bret Chenkin, there are fifty or more public school teachers who have their students fully engaged in the learning process more than five days per week. For every case of “liberal indoctrination” there are abundant illustrations of dynamic teachers presenting model lessons rich with innovative instructional strategies that many conservatives would find refreshing. These diligent and meticulous teachers represent the best practice of the pioneering American Spirit. A caring, dynamic teacher is the key to unlocking the door of learning. It should come as no surprise, even to us conservatives, that more than a few model teachers can be found at every public school in the nation.

Moreover, it is much easier for the defeatists, these champions of privatization, to take cheap shots at every public school and schoolteacher because of the actions of one. The prevailing conservative “news” paradigm allows only pessimistic stories promulgated by the mainstream media to constitute the entire vocabulary of news reporting. Conservatives use this one-sided reporting to further their thesis of bad “government schools.” I am glad that I did not stop reading columns and blogs because there are few blogs out there that certainly are irresponsible, inaccurate, and unprofessional. There are bad bloggers, bad teachers, bad superintendents, bad politicians and bad journalists to be found throughout the United States. Because all public schools are supported by state, local, and federal tax dollars, every incidence of poor behavior is magnified beyond its breadth and scope and each overblown occurrence makes an easy and ready-made target for the anti-public school alliance which always seems to be lurking in the wings.

It would be interesting to know if you would agree to publish, in the interest of fair and balanced coverage, the excess of unpublished and extraordinary triumphs of the many competent, caring, and committed public school teachers nationwide.

The majority of teachers who practice the world’s most noble profession in our nation's public classrooms every day receive little or no public recognition. All forms of the media (including and especially the writers in the blogosphere) emphasize every error made in the public schools. As an educator, notoriety is the equivalent of making a huge mistake. The prevailing "news" template does not permit the highlighting of the frequent and bountiful achievements of public educators and students.

There are many challenges in the public schools that us conservatives never seem to address. Teachers deal with students every day whose basic life needs are never met at home. Our students are not fed properly, live in cold apartments, spend the night without any adult supervision, and do not have their basic health care needs met. Too many of our students arrive in our classrooms confused, unprepared to learn and unable to focus on learning. Some of our students have erratic attendance patterns that prohibit the learning process. Sequential learning that builds upon skills that are practice daily is often impossible when the students have such unreliable school attendance. We, their teachers, attempt every day to assist these children without judging them, and to love and care for them the best that our time will allow us as a service to the children and ministry to our communities. We also carry on with remarkable lessons every day in our attempt to educate every child dutifully following the essential principle that "every child can learn."

All media outlets uses their resources to bash the public education system at every turn, yet there are educational miracles which happen every day in the public school that are not reported. Almost always, conservatives dismiss and ignore the radically different problems faced by urban schools and suburban schools. Although Urban Schools face dire challenges and consequences every day, suburban public schools are largely thriving. We meet the diverse and complex challenges presented by our students as demonstrated by the students increasing in their academic achievement each day and performing better on standardized tests all the time.

Many public educators are heroes. We are licensed specialists who function as mentors and informal advisors to our students. We take our role seriously and agonize over any mistake or misjudgment. We are professionals with training, experience and in some cases, expertise. We think, we do, we know, and we do not respond well when journalists that attempt to make us guilty by association question our integrity. Teachers overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to insure that our students have the opportunity to learn and achieve. We are agents of infinite change, and we adapt to the adjusting needs of our students several times each week. Our number one priority will always remain our singular students. The daily display by students of boundless energy and wide-eyed enthusiasm for new educational experiences keeps us returning to our classrooms as agile professionals with fresh and flexible ideas.

And not all of us are liberal. We are conservatives with unshakable core values. We never indoctrinate students in the latest liberal dogma. We consider it a part of our spiritual service to assist every child in becoming a better person and a more educated, responsible citizen. We scramble to accommodate the latest trends and fads in education which usually come to us in the form of new unfounded mandates. Legislation comes at us in a “one size fits all” mode and often the legislation has unintended, punitive consequences.

I have personally given twenty years to secondary public education and interacted with over 2,000 students. I hope that I have altered and enhanced their lives, and provided them with part of the motivation to pursue a quality life while becoming a life long learner.

I am hoping for a local, state, and national conversation on public education that is realistic. Finger pointing, partisan speeches, dogma, and rigid solutions have subjugated the last twenty-five years in the arena of public education. All sides of the debate should participate fully and be forced to offer well-researched and wide-ranging solutions. The Republicans that I have helped elect have drained resources at the state level, but they offer very little in terms of long term practical solutions that contemplate providing a quality education for all. Our young people are too important to reduce the issue of public education to rhetorical slogans and to marginal cheap shots at teachers. Teachers, parents, politicians, and all community stakeholders must come together and mutually begin the process of developing a stronger learning model. We have a responsibility to provide for the educational needs of all children in America.

Thank you so much for your time, and I hope to hear from you.

Mark Manley
Thespis Journal

Posted by: Mark Manley at November 27, 2005 07:43 AM

Mark --

Your points are well taken and, IMO, accurate as far as probably a majority of dedicated educators go(here, I am not including liberal collective faculties, as you find in a lot of blue state schools, liberal principals and school districts), when I went to school in the 1960s and early 1970s, I was blessed to have 100% good, dedicated and effective teachers. Some of them are still teaching in the same schools, with tenure.

Unfortunately, there are exceptions, such as the teacher Michelle refers to in the linked column above, who allow their political beliefs to spill over into their professional lives, and they seem to be growing in number.

There are also folks in leadership positions in the edu system who use these positions to set policies of liberal indoctrinaton.

Look at the schools that require students to study the Koran while prohibiting them from praying to God ala Judaism or Christianity, and from including any vestiges of their religious icons in school Christmas functions.

Or those that engage in sex-ed without first allowing parents the option of yeaing or naying.

Or those like the school on Long Island a few months ago whose principal forced a teacher to resign because she had a photo of the President in her classroom, which went against the school's anti-Bush stance(I can only imagine what said policy engendered its teachers to impart under the guise of "teaching.")

Look at the two students who were expelled for handing out candy canes with Christmas messages attached(they took it to court, and were reinstated). What message does that send in this Judeo-Christian country?

I enjoyed watching a "Talking Points" segment recently where O'Reilly's guests were Jerry Falwell and the lib who runs that separation of church & state org. The latter was put on the spot over the candy cane issue and he blustered that it had nothing to do with religion, he simply was concerned that they could have given one of the canes to a kid who was diabetic, LOL.

There are also obviously a goodly amount of teachers who do not adhere to your good standards.

I have personally met a few teenagers who couldn't tell you the name of the Vice President or SecState, and still others whose knowledge of American History would have earned me straight Fs when I was their age.

A couple of years ago there was a kerfuffle over a large rate of failure among students in New York on the Regents exams, whole classes failing, their teachers blaming this on the tests being "too hard." The only flaw in that line of reasoning was that most of the passing grades came from entire classes, meaning that their teachers had taught them successfully.

So there are a significant amount of teachers who are not doing their jobs as well as others.

Equally as important a consideration: basic education has more than just the resposibility of teaching children the "3 Rs," but also of providing them with the "tools" they need to reason things out, to think for themselves, to make their own decisions. Those teachers who indoctrinate their students with liberal political agendas with no regard to their parents' politics or hand out PR materials for same sex domestic relationships or explicit sex-ed pamphlets without consulting the parents are usurping parental authority. And the stated consensus among this lot is that the government is more qualified to teach kids about the "birds and the bees" than parents are. That concept was recently enforced by the lefty judges right here in San Francisco, at the 9th Circus.

My point is that while you are a member of the class of teacher who is professional and dedicated to doing the job as it was intended, there is a conspicuously large element in your professional community who are using their access to the malleable minds of American children to plant the seeds of liberalism for the generation to come.

And there are also teachers out there, as evidenced by a couple of my above examples, who are simply not teaching effectively but whose incompetence, rather than being addressed, is being protected by their membership in powerful teachers' unions.

It is unfortunate that teachers who do exemplary jobs never receive the kind of publicity the bad ones do once they're caught out, but that's the same in most areas of endeavor. What is equally unfortunate is that the edu community makes little apparent effort to separate the wheat from the chaff, so that generalizations result.

Back on topic: I don't know which municipality, school district, or school you teach in, but it is possible you work in a more conservative teaching environment, while the concern on the part of many of us is that too many schools are indeed force-feeding liberal indoctrination to our young.

Look at it from parents' perspective -- they send their child to school, where others take over the education aspect of the child's upbringing and they are not there to observe all that occurs. Then the child starts coming home with stories of liberal political biases interwoven into lessons, explicit sex-ed pamphlets divulging information and recommendations the parents don't feel their kids should be exposed to for a few more years, and they think, "What the hell are these people teaching my children!?"

Given the fact that the schools defend these things unto the death rather than respecting the parents' right to bring their children up as they see fit, why should the parents not seek to take their kids out of that system and enroll them in one more in tune with the way they want to raise them?

Before educators protest the concept of parents seeking alternative educational venues for their children, they need to fix the existing system and eliminate the bad element. Until that has been done, it is not reasonable to expect parents to want to gamble with their childrens' educations by sending them to schools where the odds are rapidly approaching 50-50 that they will get some of those left-agenda'd teachers, some of those teachers who should be pursuing a different line of work or a school itself that promotes a policy of assuming parental responsibilities without parental consent.

I don't see this as happening anytime soon, sadly to say, because at present the overstuffed public education bureaucracy protects its inequities instead of correcting them or purging them altogether.

Posted by: Seth at November 27, 2005 09:53 AM