Public Education: Trapped by the Progressive Agenda

 

For years we’ve been talking about the poor state of education. For conservatives, it’s even worse: our children are learning propaganda with a Progressive agenda; the government and teachers control the curriculum and textbooks to the detriment of the students; and there is no indication that anything will change soon.

It’s time that we took back education, and we can already see strategies that are beginning to support a balanced agenda for authentic learning.

To highlight one of my major concerns, school textbooks, I was alarmed to read an article by Joy Pullmann in The Federalist about a new textbook being considered for Advanced Placement courses in the 2019 edition. Pullmann reports on some of the content of By the People: A History of the United States:

In describing the rise of Black Lives Matter in the aftermath of the Ferguson, Missouri shooting: ‘The nearly all-white police force was seen as an occupying army in the mostly African-American town.’ In a section discussing President Trump’s cabinet, the book says ‘They were largely white males, more so than any cabinet since Ronald Reagan.’ In a discussion of the nation’s politics after 2012, it says ‘Those who had long thought of the nation as a white and Christian country sometimes found it difficult to adjust’ to secularization and an increase in people of other races. Elsewhere, it describes Trump’s ‘not-very-hidden racism.’

You might ask how much damage one biased book might have on students. Pullmann tells us:

Psychological research shows that repeated exposure to fringe concepts conditions people to be more likely to accept such ideas and behavior. This is one reason media bias is such a big deal: even people who are aware of it are influenced by it, and that influence is enough to tip elections.

By the time students reach college, where the indoctrination is widespread, they have already been conditioned:

Where do you think the Parkland high school foot soldiers got their wild ideas? They weren’t born with them. They were taught them. Who taught their teachers, and who taught their parents, and their parents’ teachers? Well, the United States’ monolithically leftist professors.

If the description of the textbooks isn’t troubling enough for you, I suggest you read Walter Williams’s latest column which addresses the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, aka The Nation’s Report Card:

It’s not a pretty story. Only 37 percent of 12th-graders tested proficient or better in reading, and only 25 percent did so in math. Among black students, only 17 percent tested proficient or better in reading, and just 7 percent reached at least a proficient level in math.

It’s time to move past shrugging our shoulders or wringing our hands. Our kids are being given a substandard education, taught in a neo-Marxist environment with a socialist curriculum, and distorted and biased textbooks. Here are the places I suggest we start:

Promote K-12 public charter schools: Hillsdale has developed an outstanding program. One of these schools is located in Palm Bay, FL, called Pineapple Cove Classical Academy. Its curriculum includes history taught through original-source documents, music, art — and even cursive writing! It serves lower- and middle-income families. This is the school’s mission:

The mission of Pineapple Cove Classical Academy is to develop graduates in mind and character through a classical, content-rich curriculum that emphasizes the principles of virtuous living, traditional learning, and civic responsibility.

We are building intelligent, virtuous American citizens.

The effort to build more charter schools will be difficult. Teachers, teachers’ unions, administrations and legislatures (especially due to the influence of unions) are fighting the establishment of charter schools. They publicize poor results from existing charter schools (some don’t do well) and are not shy about “manufacturing” the data. My hope is that more and more charter schools will set high standards and evaluate results; will share information with potential charter schools about knocking down the endless roadblocks to building charter schools; and find new and better ways to encourage the community to build and attend these schools.

There is another option which is growing in popularity:

Providing ongoing support for home-schooling: Since families are becoming more aware of the limitations of the public education system, they are trying homeschooling. Although it’s not for everyone, there are many advantages to teaching your children at home. For an overview, read here. I hope that many of you who are participating in charter schools or homeschooling will share your experiences.

Provide Balanced Textbooks and Original Sources: Publishers must be identified that can provide textbooks that more accurately teach conservative and traditional values and provide a more balanced view of this country and the world. This effort would be a first step toward moving away from Pearson Publishing, which currently provides most of the textbooks that support a progressive agenda.

We need to take some positive and constructive steps before any more damage is done. Let’s think outside the box: how can we identify new and better ways to educate the next generations?

Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s growing community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 91 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  1. DrewInWisconsin Member

    I think one important factor is to return local control to the schools. No more edicts from Washington mandating various social roles for schools or forcing them to teach various ideologies.

    And along those same lines, schools need to stop being the Social Services Clearinghouse for their communities. I realize that schools are often a point of first contact for families with various needs, but instead of trying to fill that role themselves, schools need to get those families over to other community services and get back to teaching the basics.

    Lastly, we must be vigilant in getting political views out of schools. The public school system is absolutely soaking in leftist politics. But, for example, as another thread here demonstrates, there is no educational reason a second grader needs to learn about transgender issues.

    I’m convinced that returning schools to local control will help with that, too.

    • #1
    • April 24, 2018, at 1:21 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Stad Thatcher

    Get our children out of public schools ASAP, if you can. If you cannot afford to home school or send your kids to private or parochial school, grill them every afternoon when they get home about what they learned in school that day. Don’t be afraid to tell them the teacher is wrong, and don’t be afraid to raise holy hell if your child gets an F on a test because he asserts marriage is only between one man and one woman – or any of the other nonsense being taught.

    “Cisgender” my butt . . .

    • #2
    • April 24, 2018, at 1:22 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I think one important factor is to return local control to the schools. No more edicts from Washington mandating various social roles for schools or forcing them to teach various ideologies.

    And along those same lines, schools need to stop being the Social Services Clearinghouse for their communities. I realize that schools are often a point of first contact for families with various needs, but instead of trying to fill that role themselves, schools need to get those families over to other community services and get back to teaching the basics.

    Lastly, we must be vigilant in getting political views out of schools. The public school system is absolutely soaking in leftist politics. But, for example, as another thread here demonstrates, there is no educational reason a second grader needs to learn about transgender issues.

    I’m convinced that returning schools to local control will help with that, too.

    Excellent suggestions, @drewinwisconsin! Local control is definitely a big need. And referring people on is spot on! I don’t know how we get the leftist politics removed. That’s why I focused on remedies outside the traditional schools. I meant to read Bethany’s post–will do that right now!

    • #3
    • April 24, 2018, at 1:35 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Stad (View Comment):

    Get our children out of public schools ASAP, if you can. If you cannot afford to home school or send your kids to private or parochial school, grill them every afternoon when they get home about what they learned in school that day. Don’t be afraid to tell them the teacher is wrong, and don’t be afraid to raise holy hell if your child gets an F on a test because he asserts marriage is only between one man and one woman – or any of the other nonsense being taught.

    “Cisgender” my butt . . .

    Screening what your kids are learning is a fabulous idea–in the interim. I think when we coach them, we have to be careful not to frighten them with our reactions, especially the younger ones. They need to know that it’s okay to talk to us. Great job, @stad

    • #4
    • April 24, 2018, at 1:36 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  5. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Stad (View Comment):

    “Cisgender” my butt . . .

    Be careful what you ask for. 

    • #5
    • April 24, 2018, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  6. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    If you haven’t read Bethany’s latest post yet, I highly recommend it. Although you will be even more enraged. Check your blood pressure at the door.

    • #6
    • April 24, 2018, at 1:43 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Unsk Member

    Great post Susan!

    Can anyone explain to me why indoctrinating our children without our permission doesn’t violate our equal protection rights? Shouldn’t all reasonable points view be taught our children equally and without bias – equally protected as it were so our children will not hear just the approved official Progressive version?

    One of big problems employers now face is that twenty and thirty somethings often have no ability to reason through a problem. They expect a solution to he handed to them, just like they were in school. 

    Perhaps if they were allowed to hear differing points of view on our history, government, politics and religion they would learn to discern the one that best fits their point of view, and would learn a process on their own to make their own choices.

    Oh wait! I’m sorry. We are not allowed anymore to have children make their own choices. That would be that now vilified concept called “Freedom”, which can no longer be tolerated. You see our children might then choose other philosophical points of view than the authorized “right” one – Progressivism. We can’t have that. 

    • #7
    • April 24, 2018, at 1:55 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Ontheleftcoast Inactive

    Excellent post. The textbook problem is really insidious. The biggest market is California, so publishers try to get approved for California, and then not offer substantive alternatives.

    • #8
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:02 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  9. DrewInWisconsin Member

    Ontheleftcoast (View Comment):

    Excellent post. The textbook problem is really insidious.

    Yes. I’ll admit I don’t really know the ins and outs, but certain publishers have an absolute monopoly on public education. Again, choices about texts to use should be left to individual school districts.

    Also, teacher’s unions are corrupt and evil and have nothing to do with education and everything to do with graft.

    Or, as the NEA made clear: It’s not about children. It’s about power.

    • #9
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. I Walton Member

    There are no clever fixes with the system as it exists. As a general rule it is easier to replace an institution than to reform it. Something as massive and so firmly protected by the vested interests in and around public education simply can’t be fixed. It’s post turtles all the way down. 

    Parents must have choices and there is no reason for the Federal Government to be involved. Good people tried to use the Federal government to reform public schools but it made them worse because when it’s all adjusted to it just adds money and layers. Anything we attempt to do from Washington will be harmful. Anything done by state boards of education will probably also be harmful. Parents and good teachers know who the good teachers are, they know their children better than anyone and most of the people involved at higher levels do not and cannot know the children nor is there much reason to believe they care. Those layers are unnecessary, wasteful and harmful.

    A lot of parents have invested in very expensive real estate and pay high taxes to gain access to best public schools in their cities. If they are good schools parents will continue to send their kids there but they will get better because they’ll have to to compete. So to keep them on the side of serious change we must make it clear that school choice includes public schools and those teachers must understand that they and the parents they can attract to the school will actually run the school without centralized bureaucrats imposing the latest educational fad learned in our third rate schools of education. 

    • #10
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  11. Stad Thatcher

    TBA (View Comment):

    Stad (View Comment):

    “Cisgender” my butt . . .

    Be careful what you ask for.

    Oops! My bad . . .

    • #11
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:30 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  12. Stad Thatcher

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Also, teacher’s unions are corrupt and evil and have nothing to do with education and everything to do with graft.

    When I worked for the Department of Energy, I was in a position designated as “not eligible for collective bargaining”. In other words, I couldn’t join a union. Whatever authority it was done under must have survived a Suprene Court challenge, because the unions would have loved to have gotten the folks were I worked unionized.

    States should pass laws denying unionization for government employees. If not, then make unionization strictly opt-in, with no money taken from non-union employees. If it ain’t strictly voluntary, it ain’t worth joinin’ . . .
     

    • #12
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:36 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Yes. I’ll admit I don’t really know the ins and outs, but certain publishers have an absolute monopoly on public education. Again, choices about texts to use should be left to individual school districts.

    It appears that Pearson Publishing dominates the market, and they have for a while. I’m hoping if steps are taken to bring the power to state and local entities, those groups will have more say about materials. Or at least be selective if Pearson has anything appropriate to offer.

    • #13
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:49 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Unsk (View Comment):
    Oh wait! I’m sorry. We are not allowed anymore to have children make their own choices. That would be that now vilified concept called “Freedom”, which can no longer be tolerated. You see our children might then choose other philosophical points of view than the authorized “right” one – Progressivism. We can’t have that. 

    My gosh, @unsk, whatever were you thinking?! Tsk, tsk, can’t have our children making up their own minds. It just wouldn’t do.

    • #14
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:50 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  15. Kozak Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):

    I think one important factor is to return local control to the schools. No more edicts from Washington mandating various social roles for schools or forcing them to teach various ideologies.

    And along those same lines, schools need to stop being the Social Services Clearinghouse for their communities. I realize that schools are often a point of first contact for families with various needs, but instead of trying to fill that role themselves, schools need to get those families over to other community services and get back to teaching the basics.

    Lastly, we must be vigilant in getting political views out of schools. The public school system is absolutely soaking in leftist politics. But, for example, as another thread here demonstrates, there is no educational reason a second grader needs to learn about transgender issues.

    I’m convinced that returning schools to local control will help with that, too.

    Excellent suggestions, @drewinwisconsin! Local control is definitely a big need. And referring people on is spot on! I don’t know how we get the leftist politics removed. That’s why I focused on remedies outside the traditional schools. I meant to read Bethany’s post–will do that right now!

    Imagine if every parent was given a voucher for the say 10,000 dollars spent on “educating” their child every year. Twenty parents could get together and hire an excellent teacher for their child, and rent a space for the learning to take place, and the teachers would get better compensation. The pressure this would put on the government schools to improve would be irresistible….

    • #15
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    I Walton (View Comment):
    There are no clever fixes with the system as it exists. As a general rule it is easier to replace an institution than to reform it. Something as massive and so firmly protected by the vested interests in and around public education simply can’t be fixed.

    I so agree! I wish it weren’t so–it will extremely difficult to start anew, as well as expensive. But they Progressives are so ingrained with the current systems that there’s no getting them out. Did anyone notice I didn’t talk about the colleges?

    • #16
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:53 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Kozak (View Comment):
    Imagine if every parent was given a voucher for the say 10,000 dollars spent on “educating” their child every year. Twenty parents could get together and hire an excellent teacher for their child, and rent a space for the learning to take place, and the teachers would get better compensation. The pressure this would put on the government schools to improve would be irresistible….

    Now this is very creative, @kozak! I love it! Do you think they could get away with it? Big Brother checking it out, and all? Although I’m not sure that government schools would see the writing on the wall; they might just keep waiting for someone, anyone, to bail them out.

    • #17
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:56 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Stad (View Comment):
    States should pass laws denying unionization for government employees. If not, then make unionization strictly opt-in, with no money taken from non-union employees. If it ain’t strictly voluntary, it ain’t worth joinin’ . .

    Unions for government employees has been a disaster, especially for the communities. Actually, at some point everyone will suffer. They’re just wearing blinders for now . . .

    • #18
    • April 24, 2018, at 2:57 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  19. Unsk Member

    Susan “Unions for government employees has been a disaster, especially for the communities. Actually, at some point everyone will suffer. They’re just wearing blinders for now . . .”

    And to think public employees unions were created in violation of the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 by a stroke of a pen and executive order by JFK, and could be vaporized by another stroke of the pen by Trump. If only!

    • #19
    • April 24, 2018, at 3:47 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  20. Unsk Member

    “Imagine if every parent was given a voucher for the say 10,000 dollars spent on “educating” their child every year. Twenty parents could get together and hire an excellent teacher for their child, and rent a space for the learning to take place, and the teachers would get better compensation. The pressure this would put on the government schools to improve would be irresistible….”

    Now Kozak you would know better if only you lived in my glorious one party allowed state of California where we are inundated by Teacher Union radio ads decrying those sinister, evil “Charter Schools” run by those definitely evil Corporations not directly under the sway of the unions, which are taking money away our wonderful schools and their ginormous bureaucracies that have done so well educating our kids. 

    • #20
    • April 24, 2018, at 3:54 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  21. Kozak Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    Now this is very creative, @kozak! I love it! Do you think they could get away with it? Big Brother checking it out, and all?

    No. The education establishment will fight this tooth and nail. It would take stones the size of bowling balls for a state to try this.

    • #21
    • April 24, 2018, at 4:24 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. Kozak Member

    Unsk (View Comment):

    “Imagine if every parent was given a voucher for the say 10,000 dollars spent on “educating” their child every year. Twenty parents could get together and hire an excellent teacher for their child, and rent a space for the learning to take place, and the teachers would get better compensation. The pressure this would put on the government schools to improve would be irresistible….”

    Now Kozak you would know better if only you lived in my glorious one party allowed state of California where we are inundated by Teacher Union radio ads decrying those sinister, evil “Charter Schools” run by those definitely evil Corporations not directly under the sway of the unions, which are taking money away our wonderful schools and their ginormous bureaucracies that have done so well educating our kids.

    One of the reasons I moved from the Peoples Republic and never looked back…

    • #22
    • April 24, 2018, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  23. Nohaaj Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Yes. I’ll admit I don’t really know the ins and outs, but certain publishers have an absolute monopoly on public education. Again, choices about texts to use should be left to individual school districts.

    It appears that Pearson Publishing dominates the market, and they have for a while. I’m hoping if steps are taken to bring the power to state and local entities, those groups will have more say about materials. Or at least be selective if Pearson has anything appropriate to offer.

     let’s be clear on this: Pearson publishes leftist, socialist tomes because the leftist, socialist teachers and admins demand and buy them. The swamp is very deep. 

    • #23
    • April 24, 2018, at 5:02 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Nohaaj (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin (View Comment):
    Yes. I’ll admit I don’t really know the ins and outs, but certain publishers have an absolute monopoly on public education. Again, choices about texts to use should be left to individual school districts.

    It appears that Pearson Publishing dominates the market, and they have for a while. I’m hoping if steps are taken to bring the power to state and local entities, those groups will have more say about materials. Or at least be selective if Pearson has anything appropriate to offer.

    let’s be clear on this: Pearson publishes leftist, socialist tomes because the leftist, socialist teachers and admins demand and buy them. The swamp is very deep.

    You are correct @nohaaj. I hope we can wade ourselves out of the muck.

    • #24
    • April 24, 2018, at 5:06 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  25. Old Buckeye Member

    I can attest to the bias from other publishers besides Pearson. I’ve proofread textbooks for major publishers for years. The bias used to be nonexistent or very subtle, but in the past maybe 10 years, the bias has gotten blatant. I think the groundbreaker for history texts was Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. If your child’s school is using this text, you can rest assured your child is being indoctrinated in leftist ideals. It’s not just history books, either. 

    • #25
    • April 24, 2018, at 5:11 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  26. SecondBite Member

    Susan Quinn: They publicize poor results from existing charter schools (some don’t do well) and are not shy about “manufacturing” the data.

    Something that everyone should remember: the appropriate benchmark for a charter school or home school is the least competent graduate of the competing public school. We all want the best for all the kids, but the bar is incredibly low. Just about any alternative will be superior and anything that helps to weaken or break the monopoly that the states and the unions jointly control should be pursued. Thanks for the good post.

    • #26
    • April 24, 2018, at 5:14 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  27. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    I can attest to the bias from other publishers besides Pearson. I’ve proofread textbooks for major publishers for years. The bias used to be nonexistent or very subtle, but in the past maybe 10 years, the bias has gotten blatant. I think the groundbreaker for history texts was Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. If your child’s school is using this text, you can rest assured your child is being indoctrinated in leftist ideals. It’s not just history books, either.

    I know about Zinn’s book, @oldbuckeye. It’s a travesty. Do you run across publishers who publish more conservative books, or are there so many lefties writing textbooks that they are hard to find?

    • #27
    • April 24, 2018, at 5:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  28. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn Post author

    SecondBite (View Comment):
    Something that everyone should remember: the appropriate benchmark for a charter school or home school is the least competent graduate of the competing public school.

    I didn’t know this, @secondbite—thank you! Although it certainly isn’t positive information. There is probably so much that operates under the radar.

    • #28
    • April 24, 2018, at 5:40 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Kozak Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Old Buckeye (View Comment):

    I can attest to the bias from other publishers besides Pearson. I’ve proofread textbooks for major publishers for years. The bias used to be nonexistent or very subtle, but in the past maybe 10 years, the bias has gotten blatant. I think the groundbreaker for history texts was Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. If your child’s school is using this text, you can rest assured your child is being indoctrinated in leftist ideals. It’s not just history books, either.

    I know about Zinn’s book, @oldbuckeye. It’s a travesty. Do you run across publishers who publish more conservative books, or are there so many lefties writing textbooks that they are hard to find?

    We are looking forward to our first grandchild in Oct. I’ve been scouring Amazon buying up copies of the American Heritage Library series. Pre PC, wonderful books about history and our country, with glorious illustrations. Costing me an average of 4-5 dollars apiece…

    • #29
    • April 24, 2018, at 6:37 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  30. Nohaaj Coolidge

    With four teachers in my immediate family (2 D-I-L, a son, and an ex) I have heard many stories. Two of the issues which add to the deficiency in our schools: 1) absolute dictate to not hold kids nor their parents responsible for behaviors, 2) the “no child left behind” program and philosophy. Let me share some examples. 

    My son and DIL both taught in the highest ranked public school district in the state of S Carolina. it was horrible. kids were only allowed to be held back 1 grade. ever. The kids who were held back, learned this “secret”. They could never flunk a second time. It was also mandated that 60 was the lowest score that could be handed out, if a kid took an exam and merely wrote his name on the paper, it was given a score of 60. If a child would fall asleep in class, the consequence was to send him to the library, so he could sleep in quiet. No detentions were issued for anything, as it was too great an inconvenience for the parents. As a result, these kids learned that they did not have to put forth any effort, that there were no consequences (at least in their short sighted school experiences). A significant percentage of kids entered high school being totally illiterate. 

    The No Child Left behind program integrates special needs children into the mainstream classroom. This is a noble cause with great compassion. But the result is that the curriculum must be adapted down so that they can grasp the material and have enough time to master it. Teachers aides and specialists are included in the classroom to assist and support those kids. The result is that the capable, and better students sit idly, unchallenged, and neglected while special attentions are being granted to the special needs kids, which frankly distracts from the intended curriculum which should be taught. 

    • #30
    • April 24, 2018, at 7:46 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4