I started my teaching career, teaching high school history, in 1996. Over the course of the last two-plus decades, I have taught policy debate (coached and founded the forensics team), world history, American history, government, economics, computer programming and applications, and robotics. I even founded the Information and Communications Technology Academy, which came with writing the curriculum for four courses and even getting courses approved through the UC A-G system—I was the first in school history that was able to do that with my first submission. My entire career has been at the same school in Southern California. Those are just some of my street creds, but I think that should suffice.
When people ask me “Kenny, how did education get to this state, where everything is seen through a racial and victim lens? Who let this happen?”, I can only tell them that we all let it happen, but the changes were subtle and couched in pleasant sounding phrases—Glittering Generalities, if any of my old government students happen to be reading. Glittering generalities are a political advertising technique that uses phrases that sound nice rather than providing information. Obama’s “Hope” and “Change”, or Brandon’s “Build Back Better” are good examples.
The problem is, education should never utilize such tactics, nor should it be political, for then the de-evolution into indoctrination is all but assured. Changes in education should always be done in an upfront, non-political, and factual manner. And, always with public consensus. We are discovering today, however, that changes in education have been taking place under the cover of camouflaged language, in small increments at a time, and that public awareness has been scaffolded so that overall objectives were not seen until full indoctrination was in place. At the same time, education has not only been politicized, but is regressing into a more militant past, look to violence perpetrated by BLM in the name of “equity”.
To illustrate the full effect of incremental changes, kindly allow me to digress just a bit. A few years back our district was adopting textbooks for all history courses in the district, just the third time in my career. I participated in selecting the government and economics textbooks.
All teachers that taught a majority of government and economics classes (they are one semester each) gathered together to choose a textbook from five selections provided by the district. We were given an overview of each one—what all the bells and whistles included with the text were, such as apps and classroom management systems. We then weighed that with the quality of information in each book and narrowed it down to two top contenders, this took us a day. A couple of weeks later, we were to send just one teacher from each school to make the final decision between the two textbooks. Sounds sensible, does it not? Raise your hand if you think the textbook-choosing process went awry somehow?
I knew you would see right through the “sensible”. Sure enough, the smaller group of teachers (one from each school) learned on the second day that we had eliminated a textbook that the district obviously preferred. For those teachers were met by a salesman representing the publishing company of one of the eliminated textbooks. This salesman then proceeded to give the teachers a very long, detailed, hard sell of a presentation. That salesman’s textbooks were adopted for both economics and government. It was an illusion of choice—we were given the chance to choose the “right” textbook.
Much could be written at how the curriculum has changed in just the last twenty-five years, but I will limit myself to just two examples, so as to not prolong this article.
First up, the circular flow of economics. The circular flow of economics diagrams the flow of resources and money between households, businesses, and the government (taxes, subsidies, public goods).
Compare that to what is in the current textbook.
Global market instead of the government? No taxes?
A second example is how Communism is taught. Textbooks will twist themselves into language knots to posit that the only communist nations today are North Korea and a handful of small tribes. Textbooks decry the usurpation by capitalism over socialism in nations like Norway, Denmark, and the USSR. Cuba and Venezuela are surviving socialist countries, not communist. Kid you not. This is from an economics textbook but is very similar to other history textbooks.
When I was learning to swim competitively, I remember entire practices would be devoted to learning proper techniques of each aspect of the stroke—be it the overhand reach of the butterfly (kick-kick-pull), or the up-out-together of the breaststroke kick. Scaffolding. Master the parts before the whole, nothing new.
What is new, is using scaffolding when it comes to school boards having transparency with the public. MTSS for instance. MTSS, or Multi Tiered System of Supports-though it is more often referred to by the abbreviated form- has been around my district for a number of years. I never gave it much thought beyond that it sounded like a hug and a handshake rather than actual consequences. I never connected it to the Restorative Justice program in Parkland, Fl that allowed a clearly deranged individual free to do unspeakable things. To me it was a system that was instituted at my job that I just had to adapt to, nothing I could do to change or alter the system.
Deeper looks, which can be read here and here, expose the connection between MTSS and Critical Race Theory (CRT). The district scoffed when the public proved that Ethnic Studies was CRT and politicized education by adopting policies and curriculum aligned with CRT concepts and principles. Mainly the division of society between oppressors and the oppressed; victims and the aggressors; beaten and beaters.
This is where education digresses and is doomed to repeat history if not stopped. There are numerous comparisons we could make in history as to where we are headed, but I like this one.
Last year, when teaching about World War I, I was nearly written up (first time ever) for teaching something from 1898 Germany. Apparently, a student, or a parent listening in…or someone else listening in, heard me say “oppressor vs. oppressed, and if you’re oppressed, well, sucks to be you, do something about it.” I was speaking from the perspective of someone else, giving a voice to history so to speak, but those words were enough to trigger an investigation. I was not written up…for that.
I was teaching this famous quote from Bernhard von Bulow, which he states one is either the hammer or the anvil—the oppressor or the oppressed.
This was in 1889, when Germany lagged behind Great Britain in armaments and would spend massively on weapons of war in the years to come, in order to become an oppressor. This is one of the causes of WWI of course, and Hitler would also revisit this rhetoric leading up to WWII in the 1920’s-30’s.
If one, or indeed an entire nation, or even a portion thereof, feels to be oppressed what happens next? Is the oppressor de-humanized? What happens after someone, or a population has been de-humanized? When a society is divided does it progress? When power depends on division, does a society ever find cohesion? How did George Soros benefit from such divisions when he was fourteen? Watch this video to the end to find the answer to that last question, if you don’t happen to know.
Whoa, too deep maybe.
The point is, as Mirko said, “the curriculum is a battlefield” and the CRT crowd is advancing because the public does not know what to look for, and the teachers (if they even know beforehand) feel powerless to buck the directives of the unions and the district/site administrations. The public must not settle for cozy sounding, yet meaningless definitions to confusing acronyms. Follow the money and obtain the training/curriculum materials, not merely the descriptions.
For those that feel like they are deep in the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardennes, I can say only one thing: