Students at several Jefferson County, Colorado, high schools walked out to protest the school board's recently proposed curriculum review committee that seeks to promote patriotism, respect for authority, free enterprise, plus the positive aspects of U.S. history. The teachers' union, whose members forced two high schools to close by calling in sick, is against the implementation of performance-based pay. The union has encouraged and applauded student protests against what it's calling academic censorship.
The average parent and taxpayer has little idea of what is being taught to our youngsters. In February 2006, I wrote a column titled "Indoctrination of Our Youth," followed in March with "Youth Indoctrination Update." Both columns focused on rants that a student secretly had recorded of a geography teacher at another Colorado school -- Overland High School in Aurora. The teacher was Jay Bennish. He told his students President George W. Bush's State of the Union address sounded "a lot like the things that Adolf Hitler used to say." He continued, "Bush is threatening the whole planet." He then asked his students, "Who is probably the single most violent nation on planet Earth?" He shouted the answer, "The United States." During this class session, Bennish peppered his 10th-grade class with other ridiculous statements, saying the U.S. has engaged in "7,000 terrorist attacks against Cuba" and telling his students capitalism "is at odds with humanity, at odds with caring and compassion ... (and) at odds with human rights."
Bennish reasoned with his class, "If we have the right to fly to Bolivia or Peru and drop chemical weapons (pesticides) on top of farmers' fields because we're afraid they might be growing coca and that could be turned into cocaine and sold to us, well, then don't the Peruvians and the Iranians and the Chinese have the right to invade America and drop chemical weapons over North Carolina to destroy the tobacco plants that are killing millions and millions of people in their countries every year and causing them billions of dollars in health care costs?" This kind of anti-American teaching might help explain why some Americans have joined the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Relevant to our struggle with ISIL is this observation by Bennish, reported by columnist Todd Manzi (tinyurl.com/nv2hedm): "You have to understand something. When al-Qaida attacked America on Sept. 11, in their view, they're not attacking innocent people. OK? The CIA has an office in the World Trade Center. The Pentagon is a military target. The White House was a military target. Congress is a military target. ... So in the minds of al-Qaida, they are not attacking innocent people; they are attacking legitimate targets."
This kind of teacher indoctrination is by no means restricted to Colorado. Many teachers, at all grades, use their classroom for environmental, anti-war, anti-capitalist and anti-parent propaganda. Some require their students to write letters to political figures to condemn public policy the teachers don't like. Dr. Thomas Sowell's "Inside American Education" (2003) documents numerous ways teachers attack parental authority. Teachers have asked third-graders, "How many of you ever wanted to beat up your parents?" In a high-school health class, students were asked, "How many of you hate your parents?"
We can't tell whether Jefferson County teachers are giving their students the same kind of anti-American indoctrination, because if there is not recorded evidence, they will deny brainwashing. If they are brainwashing students, then it's understandable why they are against the school board's curriculum review demanding they promote patriotism, respect for authority, free enterprise and the positive aspects of U.S. history.
Parents should become more involved with their children's education. They should look at the textbooks used and examine their children's homework. Parents should show up en masse at PTA and board of education meetings to ensure teachers confine their lessons to reading, writing and arithmetic and leave indoctrination to parents. The most promising tool in the fight against teacher indoctrination and classroom misconduct is the microtechnology that enables students to secretly record and expose academic misconduct by teachers.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University.