THE JOYS OF A PUBLIC SCHOOL EDUCATION
Have you spoken recently to a person who teaches in our public schools, either as a full-time faculty member or as a substitute? I have. I am horrified by their stories. Several trained middle-school teachers recently informed me that kids confronted them in the classroom using threatening, profane language, even dropping the F-bomb in the process. One of the teachers admitted feeling powerless. Another resolved never to enter a public school again. Think for a moment about being a serious student, really wanting to learn, and having to contend with this kind of garbage. As it turns out, the state of our schools, which was portrayed by the Hollywood movie "Dangerous Minds," was spot on.
A high school principal once heard me lamenting the sorry state of American public schools. He took pleasure in pointing out that my own child had distinguished herself in public school and had graduated from a public university. "We must be doing something right." he intoned with a smile. "Bright kids," I responded, "sometimes learn in spite of what they must endure in schools like the one you administer."
I admit that I have zero-respect for American public schools. And why should one respect them? I think they are like most everything else "public" – public phone booths, public toilets, public courts. The word has become virtually synonymous with "broken down" and "dysfunctional."
I taught in "higher education" for a while. I found that it was a rare student who knew how to think. Most kids wanted to know what information to memorize so they could regurgitate it on examinations, pull an acceptable grade, and never again consider the subject matter. They had all, needless to say, attended public schools.
In my conversations with high school, even college-age, students, I notice an almost blanket mindset. They are appalled, for example, by the idea of war, even a war fought for just cause. It is not that they are outraged by the ideology on either side. Good and evil, after all, are relative terms for them. No, these kids are aghast that a human being would be willing to take up arms to defend anybody or anything! I notice that they are also "tolerant" of every point-of-view no matter how ridiculous, except of course those which hold that "toleration" may sometimes boil down to another expression for "moral cowardice" and "lack of resolve." Most of these students have been conditioned to understand Mr. Obama's inclination to negotiate with anybody about anything. The word "non-negotiable" suggests to them an adamantine state of unreasonableness, a certain hardness of heart. When I illustrate to them that their positions are far from self-evident, they look at me as if to ask, "From what planet have you come?" Yet the most cursory exchange of ideas between us reveals they cannot defend their positions, that their commitment to them is uncritical.
"Uncritical" is one way to describe the problem. "Brainwashed" is another. Let me be as explicit as I know how: I think kids are being brainwashed in our public schools, which are largely a joke. My sense about these places approaches outright contempt. I tend to think they serve the same sort of purpose for children as nursing homes do for the elderly. They are utilitarian "drop off" places. One group are withering spiritually and intellectually, while the other are doing so physically, waiting to die.
You can imagine how I reacted when I discovered that the school board in Alameda County, California enacted a curriculum policy concerning the treatment of gays and lesbians. Trustees voted 3-2 to adopt the Safe Schools curriculum, which begins in kindergarten. Supporters of the curriculum say it will help children of gay parents feel welcome at school and help end anti-gay teasing and bullying on the playground. The curriculum will lend itself to fostering a safe environment for children to learn, and will provide a framework for teachers to break down stereotypes and teach kids about different types of families. Parents will also, and this is important, not be able to opt their children out of the instruction.
I do not believe in bullying anybody. But, on the other hand, I do not favor schools taking it upon themselves to break down moral stereotypes -- as if it were their right to do so --and to instruct our children about families with other sexual orientations. I have had enough of Nancy Pelosi's, Hillary Clinton's, and Barack Obama's morality. I do not want to hear their crappola, much less pay to have it imbued upon the minds of children.
I am slowly coming to the conclusion that there may be no hope for American culture. I despise what it has become and want no part of it. We are fast losing our freedoms and, yes, even our young to the ravages of Caesar. An old guy turned angry, diehard revolutionist? That's my story. It was never my intention, but here I stand; I can do no other.
September 18, 2009