December 27th, 2012

About fighting the leftist domination of education

I think most of us are in agreement that the fight against the leftist domination of education from the primary grades right through the university is one of the most important fights of all right now—and that, although an ounce of prevention would have been worth at least a pound of cure, we’re going to have to go for the cure because it’s way too late for the prevention.

There was a discussion on this thread about how best to go about the huge task. Should the focus be on establishing and consolidating more of the alternative conservative institutions of learning, as well as the spread of methods such as homeschooling, or should it be on the attempts to influence and take back our public schools and mainstream higher education?

I maintain it shouldn’t be an either/or choice, although it’s tempting to just go the separatist route because that’s easier than trying to work from within the belly of the beast. But separatism’s a form of preaching to the choir, with the danger of becoming more and more of a minority cult that doesn’t reach the majority of people, who then continue to become more and more entrenched in a leftism which is increasingly accepted as mainstream and baseline and ordinary. And so it would seem to be that the prevailing leftist attitude must be successfully challenged on its own educational turf if it’s going to be defeated, and if an alternative message has any hope of reaching a significant enough number of young people to stem the growing leftist tide.

That said, here’s an organization, the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization, (hat tip: William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection) that seems worthy of considerable support, despite the fact that it’s a separate institute rather than a way to transform mainstream education. As I said, both are necessary.

And on the mainstream public education side, John Hinderaker has an excellent piece analyzing the new educational standards for social studies. He finds some bad and some good there. Liberal PC thought dominates in two important ways, the first being what Hinderaker calls the Balkanization of the subject. Over and over, the emphasis is on “demographic interest groups,” and one of those groups is most definitely not white males.

Another constant is this:

Beyond the tiresome (race, class, gender, zzz…) and the false (big business causes racism), an obvious feature of the new social studies standards is the banishment of any sense of the heroic in American history.

My guess is that “the heroic” does remain in the curriculum, but that it’s mostly limited to members of those special interest groups such as blacks and native Americans. Oh, and Abraham Lincoln, one of the few honored exceptions to the “white men bad” rule.

34 Responses to “About fighting the leftist domination of education”

  1. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    My pitch for setting up parallel conservative educational institutions, as one tactic and not the only one, was based on the premise of just how hard it will be and how long the battle will take to dislodge entrenched Leftists from the various choke points and positions of power in our educational establishment which, with teachers unions in K-12 and tenure (and sometimes unions as well) in colleges and universities, could not be better organized to make such a task–absent a radical shift to conservatism among the general public– an almost insurmountable and certainly an arduous and generation’s long task.

    A case in point that came up during that discussion was something I was not aware of, and that was the “dispositions” inquiries that are now a part of teacher education i.e. you are screened/examined as to whether you have the proper “disposition” to be a teacher, and if the screeners–at this point leftists all–don’t like your politics and approach to education, you are unlikely to graduate and get your teaching credentials.

    If it is as reported, I fail to see how this ideological inquisition is any different from the screening the Nazi’s did in pre-WWII Germany to make sure that all teachers toed the Party line, or the Communists did in the old U.S.S.R.

  2. Mr. Frank Says:

    Married couples with children in school are a pretty conservative lot. Reaching them to report and expose the looney left in schools would be worth the effort.

  3. Mr. Frank Says:

    W.D. is correct. This is from NCATE’s standards

    ―Dispositions are guided by beliefs and attitudes related to values such as caring, fairness, honesty, responsibility, and social justice.

    To be admitted to a teacher education program your mind must be right. Think Winston and 1984.

  4. James Says:

    If you found a separate educational system on western values the subject material would probably attract more than enough interest. Where the battle will be fought to the death will be in accreditation of that private system.

  5. THURSDAY GOD & CAESAR EXTRA | Big Pulpit Says:

    […] Fighting the Leftist Domination of Education – Neo-Neocon […]

  6. Ann Says:

    Change school textbooks.

    Conservatives in Texas have already had some success with this. In 2010, the Texas Board of Education “approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks…”

    Texas is the country’s second-largest buyer of textbooks (California is number one) and so heavily influences what the rest of the country buys.

    Now the challenge is to get some conservatives on California’s board of education.

  7. SteveH Says:

    Liberal progressives are now the establishment and in so many ways the real narrow minded conservatives. Just mention the obselescence of brick and mortar libraries or network news outlets if you want to see how clingy to tradition they are at any cost.

    That said, i think it will be this establishment identity becoming very uncool in its control freak nature that ushers in their demise in politics, culture and academia.

  8. vanderleun Says:

    “In the hands of a skillful indoctrinator, the average student not only thinks what the indoctrinator wants him to think . . . but is altogether positive that he has arrived at his position by independent intellectual exertion. This man is outraged by the suggestion that he is the flesh-and-blood tribute to the success of his indoctrinators.”
    – William F. Buckley Jr., Up From Liberalism (1959)

    Via “The Winners Write the History Books”

  9. Oldflyer Says:

    It is very late in the game. However, I think a variation of G.W. Bush’s voucher program is the answer. Since we will never do away with the tax payer funded education system, the best we can do is promote competitive alternatives. Naturally, most parents find it objectionable to support one system with their taxes, while paying to enroll their children in a private system. That is why public school enrollment has not plummeted already. So, reimburse those who opt out of the public system with a tax refund in the form of a voucher.

    I suspect that fear of the opt-out wave was one reason that the Left objected to Bush’s voucher plan so vociferously.

    Of course the other alternative is a tax boycott in which parents–along with folks who haven’t had kids in school for 25 years–withhold the percentage of their taxes that support schools. It would take some brave souls to initiate this, as the government would have to come down very hard to try to nip it in the bud. Obviously, if the Left loses control of the schools they will be in trouble.

  10. George Pal Says:

    “Abraham Lincoln, one of the few honored exceptions to the “white men bad” rule”

    Abraham Lincoln is not an exception, but an exemplar. The plinth is broad and the pedestal high upon which Abe sits because he earned it with a war for centralizing power calling for the diminishment of the states and the end of self-determination such as caused this country to be in the first place.

  11. Jan of MN Says:

    Oldflyer comments: “… a variation of G.W. Bush’s voucher program is the answer. Since we will never do away with the tax payer funded education system, the best we can do is promote competitive alternatives.”

    In a sense, vouchers are the low-hanging fruit in a campaign to edge leftist propaganda out of the public school system and should be aggressively sought. I submit, however, that the alternative schools should outshine the public schools not only in social studies but also in math and science and perhaps arts, to attract apolitical parents who simply want the best for their kids.

  12. gradchica Says:

    I agree that separate/alternative institutions should be nurtured even while we work to change “the system”–although I hesitate to work within that system for change while subjecting my children to the system as-is. My husband and I have the means and ability to give our children a solid alternative, an option we’ve worked hard to provide. We plan on homeschooling, or private-schooling if that doesn’t work out, at least while the boys are young so that they have a strong sense of history, values, faith, and patriotism before they jump into the mainstream academic system at HS or college. This is the same reason why we refuse to attend the wishy-washy progressive parishes closer to our home and instead drive 15 extra minutes to a liturgically solid, traditional parish–our children need to be taught solid doctrine and practice and grow up in an environment where that is natural to them before we can help change the problems in another parish.

    Otherwise while our thoughts are on what committee to join and what mini-political battle to fight to change the choice of hymnal/textbook/etc, we could easily lose sight of what our children are consuming and absorbing in that environment or lose the energy and consistency to supplement and correct everything they are being taught, which raises the problem of how to teach respect for authority while constantly correcting that authority. A thorny problem, this.

  13. chuck Says:

    I’d work to get social studies out of the curriculum, period. It’s intellectual poison, profoundly corrupted by politics. Plain old history and civics would be a good replacement.

  14. Jan of MN Says:

    I think “social studies” is simply an umbrella term for subjects related to society and its people, such as history and civics but also anthropology, sociology, political science, social psychology, human geography, etc. I’m not an educator, though, it’s just my take on it.

  15. Fr Bill Says:

    I was on a school board for 10 years. My recommendation is to GET OUT and go private school or homeschool. The system cannot be fixed.

  16. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Jan of MN.
    “social studies” is whatever its designers say it is.
    It seems to be getting a bad rap because that’s where the leftism can be planted. You can’t do leftism in math except by making so many kids inadequate in math and thus resentful of the system which later won’t let them get ahead. You can do it in literature, but that’s more obvious. “The Octopus” vs. Ayn Rand. Not “along with”, but instead of.
    In social studies you can do Zinn history, marxist economics, colonialism–by Europeans but not by other types of folks–and so forth.

  17. thomass Says:

    I say step one is help the higher ed bubble burst. There are several upsides. Non partisan bennies… Keeping young people from taking on huge debt for no reason. Saving government money. Partisan upsides: attack the notion that public and non profits are ‘morally’ superior to everyday businesses (look what they’ve done to so many / maybe even you). Bring up, again, that government subsidies just make things more expensive and inefficient (much like funding government itself)… having softened up the ground with these you can get into the stupidity and crazy PC bs our support has allowed to grow (just as government is not connected to reality, and or market forces, and has lead us to the fiscal cliff and so much nonsense).

    If thats not enough; a post bubble education market will have fewer schools and thus require fewer conservatives to get involved for their presence to be felt and voices heard…

  18. thomass Says:

    SteveH Says:

    “That said, i think it will be this establishment identity becoming very uncool in its control freak nature that ushers in their demise in politics, culture and academia.”

    I agree but it is also history repeating. Teenagers in the 80s rebelled against the left to some degree / being a conservative was somewhat transgressive (the general establishment and most teachers already being mostly left / leftists).

  19. thomass Says:

    Jan of MN Says:

    “I think “social studies” is simply an umbrella term for subjects related to society and its people”

    Yeah; I had hs classes called these and there was no funny stuff. Just not quite one subject in the one class.

    I guess it is one time when social was not an abbreviated term for socialist.

  20. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Two problems, imo.
    First, if it’s a good school in terms of not being “left”, then the lefty reasons for being a lousy school in STEM and so forth will not apply. Thus, rigor. Which means major differences in results will appear pretty quickly, including the ethnic groups starting, and finishing, by the (their) numbers. And the quality of the education will seem elitist or something. As the Ivies’ would, were it not for their contribution to the left.
    The other problem is that the last election showed us that the people who did not go to, could not go to, would not go to, and would resent those who did go to, non-left education outnumber the rest.
    Improving the balance of educational outcomes for kids who come from circumstances where educational balance is seen as a good idea doesn’t increase the numbers receiving a balanced education until, at least, the following generation and that only incrementally.

  21. Jan of MN Says:

    Every school board should sit down as a group and watch the documentary “Waiting for Superman”. After seeing how very few deserving students — a handful — in D.C. won the lottery to be accepted at the few excellent charter schools, I don’t see how anyone could oppose vouchers. The film, not produced by a conservative, is a blistering indictment of the failure of inner city school systems to measure up to their responsibility to educate children at even a minimal level.

    This movie is still around, on NetFlix and elsewhere. You can watch it on Amazon free if you’re a Prime member, or for less than $10 if you’re not.

  22. Jan of MN Says:

    Correction: “Waiting for Superman” is set in New York City, not Washington D.C.

  23. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Jan. You presume school boards of such failing systems would be concerned.
    See Detroit. They know. But that’s not their issue.
    It’s perks and power and sticking it to The Man, whoever he may be.

  24. chuck Says:

    Heh, the Wikipedia article on the history of the social sciences is a hilarious bit of PC crap. Reminds me of the fellow who assured me that Marx was a great man because he was the first to discover that things change. Anyway, apropos Social Studies, IIRC, John Dewey was involved in it’s conception and its purpose was political indoctrination in the schools in order to form better citizens. That’s how I would characterize it, YMMV. Its general lack of hard content probably followed from Dewey’s ideas about education but it’s political bent was intentional.

  25. Briana Says:

    The neocons have had to corner on homeschooling for many years, though now that has opened to homeschoolers of many faiths/beliefs.

    When we talk about it in homeschooling circles, we come to the conclusion that it has to be totally rebuilt. Many of us often talk of opening our own charters/cottage schools. There is nothing worthy of saving within such a broken system.

  26. Briana Says:

    You might like to check out what Circe has been doing.

  27. reticent Says:

    Good discussion and ideas. I have a suggestion on a different tack: bring back vocational, shop and home economics classes, teaching hands-on skills like auto mechanics, shop, home repair, electronics repair, gardening, cooking, budgeting, and check, savings and credit card management. If you have any of these sorts of skills yourself, sign up to teach them at extension classes.

    As the nation has become increasingly urbanized, and the economy globally integrated, we as a people are losing the sense of what it means to be producers of tangible things. We no longer tinker, or fix and repair broken items. We simply buy and replace.

    While consumerism makes economic sense in terms of maximizing comparative advantage, I think it dilutes the experience of the causal link between laboring and reaping the fruits of one’s labor.

    Having been deprived of the experience of producing the things that we ourselves use in our daily lives, we are no longer developing the sense of self-reliance that was the hallmark of the nation when it was more rural and more conservative.

    The negative effects are twofold. On the one hand, people feel their lives are at the mercy of powerful corporations and forces beyond their control, which leads to the call for more government protection. On the other hand, because they no longer have a firm understanding of the connection between the products they use and the cost and effort required to produce them, a magical entitlement mentality arises that wants whatever it wants now and preferably for free.

    Now, taking a shop class isn’t going to turn someone into a conservative. But in my own experience, it was only when I began to see that my own efforts could better my life and that government was a hinderance rather than a help to those efforts that I began to at least hear what conservatives had to say.

  28. Papa Dan Says:

    For Christmas I gave my college age nephew a copy of “Shop Class as Soulcraft” by Matthew B. Crawford. It’s a bit more philosophical than it needs to be, but it makes the argument that there is great value in the ability to create, build and fix things. While it is not inherently a conservative value, it will open the eyes of a young person to the twaddle that passes for “modern” liberalism. I have found this to be true of a lot of small farmers, who can be very liberal, but still from experience have learned to distrust government. The cry to “leave me and mine alone” goes with the territory of learning to take care of yourself.

  29. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    There are many statements attesting to the general idea that if you can have control of the very early education of a child you have, in many ways, shaped him and pointed him in a certain direction for the rest of his life–“as the twig is bent, so is the tree inclined”–or at least made it very hard for him to see things in a different light (to become a “changer”) and later go on to change his fundamental orientation and beliefs.

    Thus, childhood education—as Bill Ayres well knew—is the foundation upon which all other education is built. So, getting children out of corrupting/dumbing down public schools and into home schooling or carefully selected private schools is a necessary and essential beginning if we want to take back the country.

    However, my generation of those born in and around WWII is passing from the scene and our power and influence are correspondingly waning. We were raised in a much more traditional environment and imbued with a basic mind-set and set of values that has, over the decades since the end of WWII, been superseded, eclipsed, chipped away at and deliberately drained of its power, and what our generation perceived and saw as of supreme value—things like personal freedom and corresponding personal responsibility, independence, fairly strict morality, strong work ethics, family values–may not be perceived, defined as we defined them, or so highly valued by the generations that have come after us, who have been subjected to two generations more, now, of leftist “education.”

    Thus, the question becomes what percentage of the current generation in power or about to come into power see as essential the kinds of things, the values we valued and see as vitally important? The Left has tried mightily to whittle down that number, and my guess is that they have pretty well succeeded.

    We think it imperative that we have a massive and fundamental revolution in education as the precondition for a return to some approximation of traditional mind-sets, values, and behavior in all areas of our society, to set this country back on the right track but, after many decades of very successful Gramscian attacks and subversion against every fundamental aspect of our bourgeois society there may be fewer and fewer who are able to perceive that today’s society and its citizens are in deep trouble, and in need of the kinds of fundamental reforms, the “fundamental transformation” that we are arguing for.

  30. thomass Says:

    Papa Dan Says:

    I don’t agree. I think all until high school it is futile.

    I even remember an indoctrination attempt in junior high. It totally backfired and sent me the other direction. They made us do a group project and no one else pulled their weight. It gave me the notion that if I needed things done I needed to do them for myself…. and contempt for collective work / unions et all.

  31. SteveH Says:

    “”We no longer tinker, or fix and repair broken items. We simply buy and replace.””

    I think the word is industriousness. A mindset almost as ostracized by pop culture as wholesomeness and mild mannered.

    You aren’t educated in America until you make big bucks shuffling paper so you can afford the latest gadgets that you have no idea how they work.

  32. n.n Says:

    A progressive recapture of America is possible through exerting democratic leverage. This requires Americans to “be fruitful and multiply,” and defer gratification to a proper and reasonable time.

    In the meantime, our children’s education begins at home. It worked to preserve our heritage in the Soviet Union, the so-called “evil empire”, and it is capable of preserving our principles and heritage in America.

    It’s a choice. Each individuals needs to decide how and where they perceive the value of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We do not all share the same dream.

  33. pst314 Says:

    Wolla Dalbo “…you are screened/examined as to whether you have the proper ‘disposition’ to be a teacher…I fail to see how this ideological inquisition is any different from the screening the Nazis did”

    Indeed. An eye-opening test: Read passages from Mussolini’s speeches to your “liberal” friends, and be amazed at how much they agree with the old fascist.

  34. pst314 Says:

    Richard Aubrey “Jan. You presume school boards of such failing systems would be concerned.
    See Detroit. They know. But that’s not their issue.”

    See Pournelle’s Iron Law of Bureaucracy:

    ” In any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people”:

    First, there will be those who are devoted to the goals of the organization. Examples are dedicated classroom teachers in an educational bureaucracy, many of the engineers and launch technicians and scientists at NASA, even some agricultural scientists and advisors in the former Soviet Union collective farming administration.

    Secondly, there will be those dedicated to the organization itself. Examples are many of the administrators in the education system, many professors of education, many teachers union officials, much of the NASA headquarters staff, etc.

    The Iron Law states that in every case the second group will gain and keep control of the organization. It will write the rules, and control promotions within the organization.”

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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