Trends in American public education – at every level – are troubling. Math, science, reading, writing, history, technical and “critical thinking” skills are slipping, while adverse influences – foreign money and curriculum manipulation to behavioral issues, drug abuse, dumbed-down texts, deficits in gifted and remedial teaching, and leftist political ideologies – are growing. Leadership and a return to honesty are urgently needed.
Historically, public education was about objectively teaching history, skills, facts, values, and critical thinking. Today, the reverse is afoot. Teachers’ unions have wandered far afield, become political actors. In some jurisdictions, they are undesignated “political action committees” or “activist cells,” pushing a Marxist agenda, nationalized healthcare, energy control, “climate change” dogma, accommodation of Communist China, endorsing leftism.
Recently, teachers’ unions went on strike, holding children hostage to public acquiescence in these radical ideas. While many teachers do not agree with these positions, teacher speech is chilled – publicly and in class – by union actions and administrative complicity. See, e.g., https://www.dailynews.com/2020/07/14/the-hubris-of-the-teachers-unions-could-backfire/; https://nypost.com/2020/12/10/chicago-story-exposes-the-rank-selfishness-of-us-teachers-unions/.
All this requires serious review, reconsideration, and professional – if not legal and political –attention. More immediately, many school districts are swerving hard left in what they teach. They are not just failing to teach subjects of importance to a free society, entrepreneurial and capitalist economy, objective truths, critical thinking, Bill of Rights, responsible living, and productive work habits. They are actively teaching misinformation.
The concern – building for decades – is that politically active teachers’ unions are corrupting young minds, gradually eroding an American society founded on objective decision-making, personal responsibility, self-awareness, civic duties, rule of law, faith, courage, and freedom. See, e.g., https://study-education.com/american-education-is-failing/#:~:text=The%20failing%20American%20education%20system%20is%20apparent%20because,foreign%20countries.%20Our%20children%20are%20not%20taught%20to.
Free societies do not continue free – if they miseducate their young, or are methodically corrupted by popularizing class warfare, blame-casting, victimhood, excusing violence, laziness, irresponsibility, uncritical thinking, civil disinterest, unrest, entitlement, and lawlessness. China may want America drifting into such rough, ruthless, useless, violent currents, but we should not.
Nevertheless, some school districts now teach anti-American sentiment, an article of some secular, socialist faith. Doing so reinforces a downward cultural spiral, justifying leftist centralization of power, political violence, social upheaval – all at the cost of preparing students for truth, hard work, history, honor, and reality.
The further teachers and administrators take children and teens from reality, and the harder the transition to responsibility and freedom is. Take, the San Diego school district which just reworked their “grading system,” to address what they see – or have been told to see – as racism. Rather than redoubling efforts to encourage high level performance, offering remedial reading and math options, distilling gifted and talented students, sticking with core skills, and setting expectations high, they have taken the opposite course.
Specifically, they have chosen to excuse unacceptable social behavioral, classroom disturbances, acting out, recurring tardiness, and late submissions – calling these prejudicial to minority students. Turning reality on its head, one administrator called this an “honest reckoning.” See, https://www.foxnews.com/us/san-diego-school-districts-grading-system-racism.
The irony is acute – what educators might call an “educational moment.” Aiming to get good media for addressing racism, they have acted in a racist way – identifying such habits as uncorrectable minority afflictions, or parts of minority character. That damages student opportunity to succeed later in life, by failing to correct flawed social habits, antisocial classroom behaviors, and measurably poor performance against objective educational standards.
This school district has chosen to lower the bar, insulting minority students’ potential for high performance, assuming they just cannot get there, amputating their ability to succeed through teaching corrective behaviors. The doublethink, laziness, administrative cowardice – simple perpetuation of non-critical thinking – is stunning. This is modern education, deflection.
The political forces at work in public education are not only just diminishing historic, moral, objective, family, and positive community values, not just pushing lower academic and behavioral standards, not just advancing leftist political indoctrination. They are failing to educate on the most vital element of education – how to reach decisions objectively, think independently, critically evaluate and analyze oneself and the world, in order to be properly equipped to manage reality, and then excel.
If we do not swiftly put to rest the idea that education does not matter, is being properly managed, or can fix itself without a return to objective standards – in math, science, reading, writing, history, technical and “critical thinking” skills – ambivalence will overtake us. California is just emblematic.
In public education, we are slipping fast. Leadership – at every level – by competent educators, administrators, thoughtful political actors, and bona fides experts is overdue. It is also essential.
Bad judgment, cowardice, political correctness, and leftism may seem passing fads, but they are dangerous. Free and open, high-achieving, and civil societies do not survive that nonsense for long. America is exceptional. To stay there, we need leadership and honesty in education.