The Many Problems of American Education
Seemingly overnight, a large segment of America has gone insane. We’re not talking about the culture of paranoia and safety that has metastasized in the wake of COVID-19 hysteria. We’re talking about the ideological shift, particularly on cultural issues, that has occurred since the start of the Obama Administration.
To pick an easy example, it would have been fairly uncontroversial even five years ago to say that men should not be allowed to compete in women’s sports, regardless of what they might subjectively “identify as.” And yet, this is now a subject contention across a number of sports, including mixed martial arts and powerlifting. What’s more, having the wrong opinion and expressing it publicly might make you the subject of a public shaming, up to and including losing your job and being de facto blacklisted from your industry.
The point isn’t to litigate the specific topic of trans-identified men competing in women’s sports. We use this only as one example of a broader cultural shift. Another, far more troubling development, is how quickly a significant and powerful minority of Americans grew to believe that America is a fundamentally racist country and that white Americans are somehow uniquely evil by virtue of their birth.
Both of the above are extreme viewpoints and would have been recognized as such even five years ago. Now, one can have one’s name blackened for taking the wrong viewpoint.
But this change did not come out of nowhere. In fact, it’s the product of decades of indoctrination of generations of Americans through what is called “education.” We use scare quotes here, because there is little evidence that American schools educate their students anymore – if, by education, we mean imparting knowledge rather than ideology.
This isn’t simply something to handwave away as “those crazy kids on college campuses and their left-wing professors.” Generations of far-left indoctrination have created a critical mass of Americans openly hostile toward American values and the very notion of liberty itself. If one is looking for an explanation for how we got to this point, a deep and critical view of education – from kindergarten through post-graduate – is in order.
The punchline? You’re paying for it in the form of America’s student loan program, which is little more than a massive welfare program for universities with multi-billion dollar endowments.
What Do We Mean When We Say “Indoctrination?”
When discussing any subject, it’s important to define terms. So when we say “indoctrination,” what is it that we’re talking about? What do we mean by that?
We mean it in the ordinary sense of being taught to think in terms of a specific ideology, rather than being taught how to think critically. What’s more, it is worth looking at the ideological bedrock on which the indoctrination exists. Not only are students not taught to think critically, but the first premises of the ideology they are indoctrinated in are rooted in hostility toward Western civilization.
We have written about this with regard to the Frankfurt School in another article, which explores the ideological underpinnings of America’s indoctrination of youth. The short version is that American youth, since at least the 1960s, with significant acceleration in the 1980s, have been indoctrinated with hostility toward Western civilization in general, with the obvious corollaries of hostility toward whites, the nuclear family, Christianity, private property, and men. Perhaps most troubling is the view that Western civilization and the aforementioned categories are uniquely evil and responsible for the lion’s share – if not all – of the world’s evil.
This indoctrination has active elements, but primarily relies upon passive elements to do its heavy lifting. While one might immediately balk at a narrative being forced onto them, one is much less likely to resist the imposition of a narrative delivered passively, in the background, as if it weren’t a narrative at all, but simply a basic truth that is beyond questioning. This is precisely how the leftist worldview is presented to children as young as five; not merely actively pushing the narrative that the world prior to 1965 – or 2015 – was a hellscape of white, cisheteronormative patriarchal oppression and exploitation, but using this narrative as the background that permeates all other truths.
One example of how this works in practice is an AP history curriculum that relentlessly mentions race. But it is how race is mentioned that is the key takeaway. Rather than a balanced, nuanced and exploratory discussion of America’s complicated racial history, the curriculum simply notes when there are too many white men in a president’s cabinet, presenting it as a given that there are a certain threshold of minority members to be met so that the cabinet would not be considered “racist.”
There is also the reductive nature of indoctrination. That is to say, concealing truths that contradict the narrative being pushed. Children are not taught certain things, or they are simply not mentioned, such as the fact that the United States didn’t invent slavery, but it did fight one of the bloodiest wars in human history to end it. These “lies by omission” are, much like the passive narrative, arguably a much more potent means of indoctrinating children than beating them over the head with modified slogans presented as “knowledge.”
We will get into the specifics of how this indoctrination works as we move through this article. However, what we mean by indoctrination is a substitution of ideological conformity training for critical thinking skills, with a basis in the Western tradition.
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School Indoctrination Examples
As we dive into specific examples of how schools indoctrinate, keep in mind that indoctrination is not limited to these ideologies.
Critical Pedagogy: The Ideology of Indoctrination
This indoctrination is not occurring by accident. It is a concerted agenda of the far left under the rubric of what is known as “critical pedagogy.” One should immediately take pause whenever something includes the word “critical.”
The urtext of critical pedagogy is Pedagogy of the Oppressed, a book by Brazilian Marxist educator Paulo Freire. Critical pedagogy believes that the purpose of education is not to educate, but to “help students question and challenge domination, and the beliefs and practices that dominate.” These are, of course, leftist code words for indoctrinating children into a radical left-wing world view. Far from a marginal ideology, it is the prevailing educational philosophy of the 21st century. If you’re looking for a clearinghouse of articles about how it works from the perspective of educational proponents, you need look no further than a teachers’ union magazine – the articles are almost universally dripping with critical pedagogy. We strongly urge you to head down to the library and pick up a physical copy of an issue. It will be very eye opening.
In the following text, we will explore what critical pedagogy looks like in practice. But also the various specific iterations it takes, such as critical race theory and “gender” ideology. We believe this will shed a great deal of light on how children are being indoctrinated in the public schools.
Indoctrination Starts Early: Critical Race Theory for Kindergarteners
One of the biggest misconceptions about the indoctrination of youth is that it begins in college. There is an often touted statistic about how few college students change their opinions and world view over the course of a four-year liberal arts education. This ignores just how early the indoctrination of youth in America and the Western world begins. If we told you that kindergarteners were being “educated” in critical race theory and gender ideology, you would probably think that we were making it up, but this is, in fact, happening as we speak and has gone on for years.
Indeed, the primary and secondary education systems largely get a pass when the subject of far-left campus hijinks is brought up. But this is 13 years of training where children are systematically prepared for the further indoctrination that takes place once they get to higher education.
There’s a good chance that you’ve never heard of the “Racial Literacy Curriculum” from the oddly named company Pollyanna. Before launching into our own opinions on the curriculum, it is worth noting what the company has to say about itself. Racial Literacy Curriculum “aims to help students acquire an awareness of their own racial socialization and skills for engaging in productive conversations about race and racism.”
Anyone who has been paying attention knows that these are essentially code words for anti-white racism and white racial self-loathing. The curriculum begins in kindergarten with a unit titled “The Physical World Around Us – A Celebration of Skin Colors” and trains children as young as five to begin noticing race. First graders begin indoctrination about the importance of “social awareness and empathy.”
By third grade, the curriculum becomes much more explicit in its aims. The third-grade unit is titled “Stories of Activism – How One Voice Can Change a Community (and Bridge the World).” This is also the age where children are introduced to slavery. “[S]tudents will understand and analyze the power of an action and/or voice… and how we can be agents of communal, social, political, and environmental change.” It goes without saying that there is a very specific notion of what kind of “change” is called for.
Fourth graders will learn about the largely discredited theory that it was the availability of certain resources that provided some cultures with an advantage over others. The goal here is for students to “be able to analyze history and other social assertions that fabricate myths of racial superiority, including the ability to critique and dispel Eurocentric perspectives[.]”
Curriculum for fifth and sixth graders is little more than extended denunciation of American history as one of genocide, enslavement and exploitation. Two of the questions asked of fifth graders are “Why do Eurocentric perspectives dominate the historical narrative of immigration?” and “[W]hat were the forms of resistance and various contributions made by those who lived in the U.S.?” Sixth graders will be taught that American society is “a society that’s plagued with violence and efforts of dehumanization.”
Seventh grade curriculum is called “What is race?” and the answer is basically coterminous with the critical race theory and cultural Marxist definitions of race. This prepares students for their eighth-grade unit, which is the apotheosis of the entire project: “Racism as a Primary ‘Institution’ of the U.S. – How We May Combat Systemic Inequality.” Here, students will “upack [sic] sophisticated ideas like white privilege and white supremacy.” The stated goal of this unit – and thus, the entire project – is that “students will set commitments for rectifying current social ills, such as learning and planning how to carry out anti-racist activism and/or social advocacy in their communities and/or to improve their everyday lives.”
Not only is this a troubling left-wing agenda being delivered to your children on your dime, it’s also worth asking what any of this has to do with education. The above is little more than an “age-appropriate” (so-called) version of radical critical race theory. It is not education, it is propaganda. Elementary schools in Virginia, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, California, Rhode Island, Missouri, and Illinois have begun indoctrinating children in this.
But more than simply “stupid” or “crazy,” this is an incredibly troubling curriculum. What, after all, will the world look like when the lion’s share of America’s “educated” people have been force-fed the narrative that whites are the source of the world’s problems from the age of five? What will a majority-minority America look like when America’s largest ethnic group is pilloried as uniquely, historically evil?
These are all critical questions, particularly with Joe Biden appointing critical race theorist and San Diego school superintendent Cindy Martens to Deputy Secretary of Education, who told white teachers they were guilty of “spirit murdering” black children and urged them to undergo “antiracist therapy.” She has also stated that only black Americans “know who America really is.”
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Séxual Indoctrination of Children in America’s Schools
Séx education in public schools has always been a controversial topic. However, with respect to people who have opposed it for years, the content of séx education in public schools is far more troubling today than it was 20, or even 10 years ago. This is because of the way that public schools teach very young children about transgender ideology and abortion.
Children as young as six are being taught about transgenderism – and not just as a social phenomenon, which might be troubling enough – but also as a valid life choice, simply one of many in the marketplace of séxuality. Children from kindergarten to fifth grade are shown the YouTube videos “Queer Kid Stuff,” which we have linked to so that parents can inspect the material for themselves. Was this done in New York, San Francisco or Portland? No, it was inflicted on children in Superior, Colorado, a small town of about 13,000. The same school invited the Trans Community Choir to perform a play about a transgendered bird.
“Queer Kid Stuff” is designed for children as young as three.
Not only is this wildly inappropriate for children, it further séxualizes children and, to the point of this article, indoctrinates them in a radical gender ideology that is likely not the values their parents want to pass onto them.
There is some appetite to federalize this agenda, if you can believe it. The Equality Act would extend the protections of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to “séxual and gender identity” (SOGI). As pointed out by a very valuable article from the Heritage Foundation, this would lead to a deluge of increased gender and séxual propaganda aimed at your children without respect to your personal values or consent of such a curriculum. Five states (California, Colorado, Illinois, New Jersey and Washington) as well as the District of Columbia already have SOGI laws. It is explicitly banned in Alabama, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and Utah, with Florida and North Carolina mandating that all séxual education focus on “monogamous heteroséxual marriage.”
Some states are even encouraging children to identify as trans by providing medical treatment without parental consent. Denying your child’s “gender identity” (not a real thing) can be considered abuse and neglect, with the attendant consequences.
But the Heritage Foundation article points out that SOGI education is largely an attempt to take such propaganda outside of the carefully watched realms of séx ed and introduce it everywhere. This would include mandating that children read gender propaganda in their literature and history classes, places where there is far less attention paid by parents to what their children are learning, in the naive assumption that the culture wars have not yet entered these classes. Even such seemingly unassailable classes such as math and phys ed will be home to deconstructions of the gender binary and celebrations of trans-identified athletes.
Children are also being indoctrinated with pro-abortion propaganda. Indeed, a 2016 California law mandates teaching children about abortion as a form of birth control. While the law requires that such education be “medically accurate and objective,” a California teacher found themselves in hot water when they showed children videos of what abortion actually looks like. And lest you think this is limited to kooky California, note that Chesterfield, MO (population 47,605) public schools were providing abortion referrals to children as part of their “séx ed” curriculum.
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College Brainwashing and University Indoctrination
All of this, however, is simply a prelude to the indoctrination which your children will endure once they are sent off to higher education. This is not only where the most robust and intrusive indoctrination occurs – of course, because the children are finally “out of the clutches of their parents” – but the leftist indoctrination also becomes a sort of semi-official state religion that all are required to pledge fealty to.
Fully 72 percent of all American college professors describe themselves as liberal, with only 15 percent describing themselves as conservative. But as we will see, “liberal” really just means “leftist” – and in many cases, committed Marxists. These people don’t simply hold ideas you disapprove of, they actively seek to indoctrinate your children in contempt and hatred of your values – and you. This isn’t just a contempt for Christians, conservatives and libertarians. Conventional, middle-of-the-road liberals are likewise subject to this scorn.
The professors are only one part of the equation. There is also the growing army of diversity consultants, effectively racial and séxual commissars who police every interaction on campus and whose presence looms large. Even the suspicion of wrongthink can ruin a young person’s academic career and to some extent their life. This army of diversity consultants is incentivized to find racism and injustice without regard to whether or not it actually exists, hence the growing number of infractions against the intellectual orthodoxy that prevails on college campuses today. This is intense pressure that would be hard for fully grown adults to resist, let alone young people away from home for the first time and ripped away from their support networks.
Dissent is not required. A lack of proper enthusiasm is enough. And these are only the foot soldiers of the enforcement of ideological conformity. There is also a seasoned cadre of administrators with the power to enforce their regime. A commitment to social justice as viewed by the far left is increasingly considered a necessary part of one’s education.
Many times, students are subject to what are effectively Maoist struggle sessions during their orientations. Students are told that such widespread beliefs are judging individuals regardless of race, or believing that America is a meritocracy is a “microaggression” or a small act of racism. What’s more, denying that one is a racist is seen as proof that a person is a racist in a strange age of Catch-22 logic.
There is significant evidence that this environment transforms the ideological view of students. An extensive study conducted on college students in the 1990s found that there were significant changes in world view, that these conformed with the ideology of the faculty and that they were so dramatic that they could not be explained simply through the maturing of young minds.
There is an additional layer to this onion that is especially troubling: A college degree is required for an officer’s commission in the United States military. Thus, when President Barack Obama purged the military command structure, there were easy replacements culled from this indoctrination process in America’s universities.
The list of shenanigans taking place on America’s college campuses is far too long to even begin to dive into here. However, if you are looking to follow the latest and greatest in leftist madness on America’s college campuses, The College Fix and Campus Reform are great resources for news in this area.
But as we said in the introduction: The punchline here is that you’re footing the bill for all of it, while your kids are consigned to a life of debt peonage.
The Role of Student Loans
We’re often told that there has never been a better time to be an American because of an abundance of cheap consumer goods. And while this is somewhat true, it ignores the fact that the cost of houses, healthcare and college education have increased significantly over a short period of time. In the case of a college education, this is particularly problematic because, right or wrong, students are told nearly from the time they are old enough to walk that they need a college degree to get a “good job.”
Between 2008 and 2018, the cost of a college education has increased by 25 percent. One of the primary drivers of this is the federal student loan program. Like many government programs, it is sold to the public as the means of leveling the playing field and increasing fairness throughout society. However, the main result of the federal student loan program is that the cost of a college education has gone through the roof.
It’s fairly easy to understand why. For the last 50-plus years, the federal government has effectively given colleges a blank check for education. No matter how much money is needed for a college education, the federal government will underwrite it. The Parent PLUS Loan is the biggest culprit. With no cap, parents may borrow as much as they need – not just to pay for their children’s education, but also lodging, books (which are often themselves price gouged) and any miscellaneous living expenses associated with a college education.
What’s more, thanks to bankruptcy “reforms” introduced by Senator Joe Biden, it is impossible to discharge student loans in bankruptcy like every other form of debt.
Only 30 cents for every dollar spent on education actually goes toward education. What’s more, administrators have increased 60 percent between 1993 and 2009, while the number of full-time faculty has actually come down. Meanwhile, academic standards continue to decline – and it’s easy to offer politicized disciplines like Women’s Studies, African-American Studies, Post-Colonial Studies, Gender Studies and Whiteness Studies (the last of these being unique in that it is a pillorying of whites rather than a deification of them, as other ethno-narcissistic disciplines are) – with zero educational content when the free money machine is turned on full throttle.
So what can be done about all this? For one, a college education is necessary for a certain style of gainful, white collar employment, regardless of whether or not the degree is actually related to the employment. Only 27 percent of college graduates are actually employed in fields related to their academic discipline. In part, this is because college education is a proxy for IQ tests, which are illegal in employment. This ban should be lifted.
IQ Test Ban: A Major Driver of the University Crisis
The ban on IQ tests is a major driver of the university crisis. A somewhat little-known 1971 Supreme Court case, Griggs vs. Duke Power Company, is responsible for this and is a case study in unintended consequences. The Supreme Court, in its infinite wisdom, ruled that IQ tests were too broad and, thus, “racist.” The only way to get a similar picture of prospective employees was a college degree, which forced a number of people who have no business in academia to obtain college degrees as a prerequisite of employment.
Part of this is a basic question of intelligence. People are either able to understand certain concepts and complete certain tasks or they aren’t –and this strongly correlates with IQ. But there is also the matter of “soft skills” – doing things you don’t want to do, showing up on time, working well with others – which are also inadvertently measured by IQ tests. It’s not that every person with a high IQ has good soft skills. Many, of course, do not. But it is, however, true, that measuring IQ is a good proxy for measuring soft skills.
Part of the argument is that IQ tests don’t actually measure anything, but this is demonstrably false: IQ tests are just about the only thing the social sciences have produced that’s actually “science” as it would be understood in any other scientific field. What’s more, IQ tests are neither linguistically nor culturally biased as is often claimed. They are able to meaningfully measure cognitive ability in humans regardless of these subjective factors. Jordan Peterson has pointed out that if IQ is inaccurate, then psychology as a discipline simply doesn’t work.
Throwing out IQ testing for job employment means that employers have to find some other way to determine if applicants are up to the tasks performed. Without IQ to rely on, employers opted, in the main, for requiring a college degree. This, despite the fact that four years spent studying sociology or English literature or American history, fails to prepare one for a career in maintaining spreadsheets and sending emails. These tasks could easily be covered in business classes at the high school level. But again, employers are prevented from using what is a quick, easy and inexpensive metric for employment because of “disparate impact.”
While it’s certainly true that mean IQ scores for black Americans are lower than those for whites, there is no reason to believe that this is unchangeable. While individual IQ is fairly plastic after a certain age, group IQ is not. One example is that women generally scored lower on IQ tests than men, but now generally score higher. There is no need to rely upon mumbo jumbo about how the tests are “racist” – it’s possible to raise group IQ and, in fact, the black-white IQ gap has narrowed considerably. There is also a phenomenon, known as the Flynn effect, where the average IQ in America has increased by three points every decade.
Put simply: Individuals cannot get meaningfully more intelligent after a certain age, but groups can increase their average IQ rather dramatically in short periods of time.
But, as is often the case, the complicated and controversial truth lost out to the quick and easy fix that lined the pockets of insiders. Rather than figuring out how to close the IQ gap, something that would have taken time – and also probably money and effort – college degrees now became a de facto requirement for gainful employment. Three generations of Americans were told that a college degree was a necessity for the American Dream. More to the point, it was required for all manner of white collar employment, specifically due to the ban on IQ tests.
With the market flooded, universities could charge whatever price they liked and the cost of a college education increased accordingly. Between 2009 and 2019 alone, the cost of college increased by 25 percent.
Another driver is that the cost of college is now underwritten by the federal government in the form of student loans. In 1993, the federal government began securing student loans. Unlike Medicare, where the government will only reimburse up to a certain amount that is deemed to be the value of the service, colleges have a blank check. The government will simply come up with whatever students can’t afford.
What’s more, the drive to “forgive” student loans is little more than a boondoggle for the upper middle class, who hold the lion’s share of these loans. Forgiveness might be a solid bargaining chip in reform of the entire system, which would necessarily mean doing away with the student loan system as we know it. In a perfect world, this would be financed, not by passing the bill onto the American taxpayers and consumers, but by making colleges pay for their role in the debacle in the form of heavily taxing their endowments to pay for it. Peter Thiel has suggested making universities foot the bill anytime someone discharges their student loans in bankruptcy, on the basis that they were responsible for the bad loans in the first place.
For those who are able, pulling your kids out of public schools – and being seriously skeptical of private alternatives, many of which are just as bad – is in order.
Conservatives and libertarians might balk at such nakedly confiscatory taxation, but today’s colleges are little more than indoctrination factories for the foot soldiers of a cadre of militants intensely hostile toward Western civilization and the American way of life. We should be mindful about salvaging whatever we can from them while aggressively kneecapping their ability to brainwash our children and attack our freedoms.
By: Sam Jacobs of Ammo.com
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