Day 453 – Letter to Fellow Citizens: Psst…We Heard That Some Folks Think Public Schools Are Indoctrinating Our Youth Toward a Liberal Agenda. We Also Heard That is Total Bunk.
Image from WBUR
My dear fellow citizens,
Since President Trump was elected, there have been many issues that have come up in conversations that have caused me to ask some important questions. First, I have wondered more frequently about biases, both among the general population and within myself. Second, I have questioned how we have become so vehemently “against” one another, and where the information is coming from that is causing such strong animosity. No matter which side of the aisle your political beliefs lie, I think it’s easy to see that mass media plays a large role in this.
In an effort to try and remain open-minded and see issues from multiple perspectives, I have taken to talking with people on social media that I normally wouldn’t; people who I don’t know, and whose views clearly vary greatly from mine. I’ve heard a lot of…..well….fascinating notions, to say the least. I have learned a few things, but I have also been able to identify a few things that are blatantly false. These tidbits apply to my line of work as an educator, so I have first-hand knowledge about what types of things do (and don’t) regularly happen in public schools. Yes, I have seen the snippets of terrible teachers, and they do exist. I know that I have not taught in every state or every school, but from the experience that I do have, I am fairly certain that these teachers are the minority. However, I am most concerned about the general notion that public schools are a breeding ground for the indoctrination of young people toward a liberal/anti-conservative agenda.
The first time I heard someone make this statement, I truly laughed out loud. “What in the world is this person talking about?!” I thought. I shrugged my shoulders, and went on with my day. After all, I know what I do as a teacher. I do tend to lean toward the left politically, but I am also a Christian. I have shut-down talk about God in my classroom (more than once) because I do believe in the separation of church and state, and that it is not my place to discuss these things in my public classroom. My professional colleagues spend their days teaching about equivalent fractions and making inferences in literature. We are not on our soapboxes, and I can almost promise you that we would be in boiling water within days if we were. Parents are not necessarily laid-back about what goes on in schools, and there would be a modern day witch-hunt if a parent even suspected that their child was being “indoctrinated.”
Nevertheless, I have now heard this statement more times than I can count. As part of my continued endeavor to explore new perspectives, I went on to Fox News’ website today. And there, I see the headline “Anti-Trump American history textbook ‘blatantly biased,’ critics say.” Of course, I continue and read the article, which includes a Tweet from Alex On-Air (radio personality Alex Clark) stating, “In case you didn’t think there was an effort going on in public schools to indoctrinate kids with an anti-conservative agenda, a friend of mine took pictures and highlighted parts of this AP US History book.”
The article is about a textbook that isn’t even in schools yet, as far as I can tell from the article. It is published by Pearson, and is the newest addition of their AP History textbook; they are providing samples to schools and seeking purchasers. Also, there are pictures from within the text with the “blatantly biased” sections highlighted. Some of the questionable text sections are written as follows:
- “Most thought that Trump was too extreme a candidate to win the nomination, but his extremism, his anti-establishment rhetoric, and, some said, his not-very-hidden racism connected with a significant number of primary voters.”
- “Trump tapped into a sense of alienation and “being left behind” that many voters- most of all white, poor, and working-class voters- felt.”
- “They (Clinton’s supporters) also worried about the mental stability of the president-elect and the anger that he and his supporters brought to the nation.”
I read this article, and these textbook excerpts, with every attempt to be critical. I have to admit that I didn’t find the excerpts to be untrue. Since President Trump’s election, many analysts have looked at the predicament(s) of the 2016 election. If you listen to political experts speak about the topic, they have mentioned these events and factors. Fox News is really reaching with this headline, but Alex Clark is doing more than reaching with her Tweet; she is just flat-out lying.
If you are a conservative-minded citizen, I am going to make a request: please stop jumping to conclusions that are not based on much more than a few YouTube videos, your like-minded friend’s Facebook post, and a radio personality’s Tweet. There is no deep conspiracy to indoctrinate your children in our public school system. We don’t even have a public school system that is cohesive enough for that to happen. Please think critically, talk with your children’s teachers, spend some time in your local schools, and form your own opinion based on experience. Truly, if we didn’t want your attention drawn to some deep-seeded conspiracy, I would not be writing this letter in the first place.