Education or Indoctrination?
|Education or Indoctrination?
October 4, 2004
By Cheri Pierson YeckeWith wisdom beyond her years, 17-year-old Kara Hoekstra identified an issue that many others fail to see or refuse to acknowledge. In a recent letter to the St. Paul Pioneer Press (9/24/04), she wrote “The education system has become a tool for liberals to preach their ridiculous philosophies…I am extremely disappointed in the number of teachers I have had that use their class time to preach political opinions.”
What would cause some teachers to use their classrooms as political pulpits as opposed to places of learning? It appears that this is sometimes the agenda of colleges of education.
A comprehensive study on the beliefs of professors at America’s colleges of education was conducted Public Agenda, a non-partisan public policy organization. The report concludes: “Professors of education hold a vision of public education that seems fundamentally at odds with that of public school teachers, students, and the public… Education professors put the public’s priorities squarely at the bottom of their list.”
One textbook for aspiring teachers has this message: “Committed teachers can empower themselves by joining forces with like-minded colleagues in the project of reformulating curriculum, altering the nature of classroom discourse, and establishing alliances between schools and oppositional political movements…Through these practices, teachers will be able to redefine their role, establishing credibility as teacher-scholars and also as political activists.” What would be the goal of such a dramatic change in teacher behavior? The authors continue: “This change has the power to transform schools’ fundamental mission.”
It is distressing to think that some colleges of education see their role as preparing teachers to “leave us as quiet revolutionaries.” Parents want their children to be educated, not used as political pawns or turned into activists.
But colleges of education do not have a monopoly on promoting a liberal point of view. For example, on September 22, the National Education Association (NEA) and other organizations hosted a series of grassroots “house parties” on education. While discussions of education can be informative and help to educate the public on complex issues, this is only true if accurate and unbiased information is provided.
Let’s consider the activities of just two of the organizations partnering for this event. One is the liberal activist group Moveon.org, funded by billionaire George Soros, who has given over $16 million to groups whose agenda is to defeat President Bush. It was Moveon.org that posted two sample political ads on its web site that compared President Bush to Hitler, an action that was condemned by the president of the American Jewish Congress who called the ads “inexcusable” and “morally outrageous.” And at its July conference, the NEA called for union members to mobilize to defeat George Bush and provided Michael Moore’s anti-Bush film “Fahrenheit 9/11” as a treat for conventioneers.
The claim that these house parties were “non-partisan, issue-based events” somehow rings hollow.
However, before we become discouraged, let’s look at the example set by Bryan Olson, a teacher from Osseo. In an act of boldness and courage, he submitted a letter to the union newsletter which was published by Education Minnesota on September 17. He wrote: “I was very disappointed to hear that the pseudo-documentary ‘Fahrenheit 9/11’ by Michael Moore was shown at the NEA convention this July…Many members are very discouraged by the actions of the NEA convention… I would hope that the NEA would be less divisive and let others do the promoting and marketing of such polarizing films as ‘Fahrenheit 9/11.'”
Most teachers are like Mr. Olson – they “get it.” They know that teachers work for parents and students, not for political organizations. They know that school should be a place of education, not political indoctrination. And they should be thanked for their dedication to fairness.
Kara, just think: If you lived in Osseo you could have Mr. Olson as a teacher. Now that would be something to cheer about.
— Cheri Pierson Yecke, a former teacher and education commissioner, is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, a conservative think tank in Minneapolis.
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