February 13, 2002
Behind frequent protestations by public officials about local
control of the schools, a federal curriculum has been quietly imposed
by law. All the pieces are now in place for this major goal of the
Elementary and secondary school education used to be organized
around subjects such as reading, math, history, geography, language,
and science. While smatterings of those subjects are still taught, the
focus has been shifted from academic subject matter to teaching
attitudes, beliefs, values, themes, behaviors, and job skills.
This is indoctrination, not education. Leftwing professors write
the textbooks and the teachers unions control the public schools, so
the ideology is what those groups deem politically correct.
And it's all hiding behind that good conservative word
"standards." Who could possibly be against standards?
Two of the three 1994 Bill Clinton laws, Goals 2000 which defines
the goals and School-to-Work which prescribes the shift from academics
to job skills, were touted as "voluntary." The third 1994 law, the
appropriations reauthorization (known to many as H.R. 6), tied the
knot, warning that schools would not get any federal money unless they
conform to the other two laws.
In a remarkable inclusion of special-interest legislation, the
third law named and funded a private organization, the Center for Civic
Education (CCE), to develop the national standards for teaching civics
and government. This cozy relationship was reconfirmed in the 2002
education law called Leave No Child Behind and means that CCE is
empowered, with the force of federal law and a stream of taxpayers'
money, to decide what is taught in our nation's schools about civics
CCE produced a 180-page volume called "National Standards for
Civics and Government," plus textbooks, teacher's guides and other
materials for elementary, middle, and high school levels. This great
quantity of words is short on facts but long on inculcating attitudes.
CCE's textbook called "We the People: the Citizen and the
Constitution" admits a peculiar aversion to facts: "The primary
purpose of this text is not to fill your head with a lot of facts about
American history and geography. Knowledge of the facts is important
but only insofar as it deepens your understanding of the American
Constitutional system and its development."
"Deepens your understanding," that is, of a prescribed worldview
without cluttering your mind with hard facts about American history and
what's actually in the U.S. Constitution. For example, the fact that
the U.S. Constitution contains a Second Amendment doesn't exist in the
book called "Standards."
This is curious because, while the federal law was vague about the
content of the standards CCE was empowered to write, the law was very
specific in demanding instruction on the Bill of Rights. Many pages of
"Standards" are devoted to the Bill of Rights but, funny thing, the
Second Amendment is completely censored out.
The 180 pages of "Standards," of course, contain much that is
informative, but the information is peripheral to the selling of a
political agenda designed to change the student rather than educate
him. The book admits that "Standards" is trying to teach "certain
dispositions or traits of character."
One major theme is a put-down of allegiance to national
sovereignty. Professor Allen Quist of Bethany Lutheran College made a
word count and discovered that the book contains only 8 references to
national sovereignty, but 17 references to the environment, 42
references to diversity, and 42 to multiculturalism.
When "Standards" listed the seven "fundamental values" of the
United States, national sovereignty didn't make the cut, but diversity
Six of the eight mentions of national sovereignty use the same
curious wording: "The world is divided into nation-states that claim
sovereignty over a defined territory and jurisdiction over everyone
Do we only "claim" national sovereignty, or is it a historical
fact that we won our national sovereignty in a War of Independence and
we jolly well need it to protect ourselves against foreign aggressors.
The words "divided into" imply that maybe it would be better if we were
not "divided" into countries, phrasing that is a favorite of those who
advocate global government.
CCE's "Standards" puts two government purposes on equivalent
levels: "the protection of the rights of individuals and the promotion
of the common good." The words "common good" are repeated over and
over again in this book, but they are not in our Constitution.
"The common good" can mean whatever a totalitarian government
wants it to mean. Our Founders never would have ranked "common good"
as an equal value with our Creator-endowed individual rights.
The last page of "Standards" gives its final advice to the
students: Citizens have "the ability to reaffirm or change fundamental
constitutional values." Is that what a federal curriculum is all about
changing our constitutional values?