People are beginning to wake up to what has happened to American education. But they are waking up a couple generations too late.
For most of American history, schoolchildren learned reading, writing and arithmetic. They studied history, especially their own history, for several hours every week. They obeyed their teachers, and their teacher graded them based on their performance. They were rewarded for good behavior, punished for bad behavior, and taught the difference based on a tradition that traced back to the Bible. They were taught that opportunity included accountability. They pledged allegiance to the flag.
For a schoolchild of the 1950s and before, reading this description of American school life would be about as surprising as a paragraph about the sky being blue and the grass being green. But in 2020, it sounds like a description of another world.
School entrances had no metal detectors; school hallways had no drug-sniffing dogs; students did not hit teachers; teachers did not get romantically involved with students. Textbooks did not teach prepubescent children about “alternative” sexual behaviors. Boys competed against other boys. Girls competed against other girls. Boys used one bathroom; girls used another.
In recent generations, American education has drastically changed. At first, it seemed it had just weakened. Academic performance declined, quality of instruction declined, behavior declined, the overall quality of high school graduates declined. Americans reacted with a collective shrug of the shoulders, a shaking of the head, and a That’s a shame.
And it was. More than they knew. Now the decline has become a dive—a dive that is being propelled downward, not just by gravity but by an ideological agenda.
Jump from the 1950 classroom to the 2020 classroom: Students whose clothes smell like marijuana, knives and guns in backpacks, sex under the bleachers, scorn from students, bruises on teachers, pride for debauchery, hatred for standards, and so much more. Forget about knowing multiplication tables, who James Madison was, or how supply and demand work.
Much of this comes from unrestrained human nature. But even there, you have to ask, what happened to the restraints? And weren’t some of those restraints good? The authority of the traditional American school is being replaced by a new authority—with restraints of its own.
Passé are virtues like patriotism, responsibility, honesty, courtesy, obedience, chastity and reverence. The new virtues are environmental consciousness, multiculturalism, opposition to patriarchy and white privilege, anti-colonialism, forced economic equality and transgender advocacy.
‘How Important Is It to Be Right?’
Does your child go to school in Seattle? If so, he or she is under the authority of a school system that has partially implemented a new rubric for K-12 teachers that stuffs as many references to advocacy, agency, appropriation, disenfranchisement, empowerment, exploitation, feelings, identity, liberation, oppression, origins, power, resistance, validation and “people of color” as possible into three pages. What subject does this “ethnic studies framework” govern?
This policy compels instructors to teach that “math has been and continues to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color” and that “technology and/or science have been and continue to be used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color.” Students will “identify the inherent inequities of the standardized testing system used to oppress and marginalize people and communities of color.” They will learn “the ways in which individuals and groups define mathematical knowledge so as to see ‘Western’ mathematics as the only legitimate expression of mathematical identity and intelligence,” and how white people use this “to disenfranchise people and communities of color.”
You might think your child is going to math class to learn fractions, long division, sines, cosines and tangents, but instead he or she will be asking, “How important is it to be right? What is right? Says who?” “Who gets to say if an answer is right?” “Where does power and oppression show up in our math experiences?” “Who holds power in a mathematical classroom?” “Can I recognize and name oppressive mathematical practices in my experience?” “Can I advocate against oppressive mathematical practices?”
In New York City, the nation’s largest school system of 1,800 schools, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s task force is calling for students to no longer be evaluated by their attendance, character and knowledge as revealed in auditions, attendance records, interviews and standardized tests. It is attempting to phase out gifted-and-talented programs. In Los Angeles, the Compton Unified School District and others are suing the University of California because it requires applicants to take standardized tests (the sat or act). The plaintiffs say this violates their civil rights and illegally discriminates against students who are disabled, low-income, multilingual or “of color.”
These are just a few examples of the radicalization of public-school curricula in America and many other nations. Educators are teaching the next generation leftist views that depict the West, especially America, as oppressive, hate-filled and genocidal. They are exalting wealth redistribution and socialism while condemning free markets. They are encouraging students to become environmental activists. They are teaching radical views about sexuality, normalizing transgenderism, gender fluidity and sexual experimentation.
These educators realize something that too many others have taken for granted: The minds of children are worth fighting for. Leftists are using education to shape the next generation into tomorrow’s activists and radicals. They recognize that implanting these politicized social concepts into young minds will reshape society.
Teach Children to Hate Thanksgiving
While the Seattle example has only been partially implemented, “Deep Equity” is a curriculum already being used in school districts across the country—even Middle America locales like West Des Moines, Iowa, and Chandler, Arizona. A California for-profit education company called Corwin developed this curriculum, which teaches that America exists as a hierarchy of oppressions. Students are learning to categorize white people into “white identity orientations.” “Fundamentalist white identity” consists of denial, ignorance and supremacy; “integrationist white identity” consists of awareness/curiosity, guilt and paternalism/compliance; and “transformationist white identity” consists in part of “systemic power shift.” They are learning that if you are a good white person, you will follow the steps of the “White Allies Action Agenda,” which include “acknowledge the reality of white racial privilege” and “use your privilege to work for racial and social justice.”
Corwin-educated students are instructed to “explicitly reject and resist any attempts by anyone in our school district or in the larger community”—such as parents—who reject its racial doctrine.
Meanwhile, last November was “Native American Heritage Month” at Portland Public Schools, Oregon’s largest school district. Students were taught to attack Thanksgiving Day and read from A Young People’s History of the United States, a book that characterizes all natives as generous and saintly and all settlers from Europe as greedy and violent. Christopher Columbus, for example, was “hungry for money,” so “as soon as he arrived in the islands, he seized some Arawaks by force so that he could get information from them” to answer “Where is the gold?” This was “the start of the history of the Europeans in the Americas. It was a history of conquest, slavery and death.” This book aims to tell “the story of the discovery of America from the point of view of the Arawaks” and the story of the Constitution “from the point of view of the slaves,” and so on.
Eighth graders read, “The tragedy of Columbus and the Arawaks happened over and over again. Spanish conquerors Herman Cortés and Francisco Pizarro destroyed the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of South America. When English settlers reached Virginia and Massachusetts, they did the same thing to the Indians they met.”
One resource the school district recommends for celebrating Native American Heritage Month is a video produced by Teen Vogue in which the director has arranged six angry-looking Native American teenage girls behind a table with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. They inform student viewers, “The true story behind Thanksgiving was, after every killing of a whole village, these European settlers celebrated it, and called it Thanksgiving.” It says those who keep Thanksgiving “are actually celebrating the deaths of many people, and many tribes that were lost.” They end by saying, “Happy Thanksgiving, America,” and flipping over the Thanksgiving table.
Thousands of young students went to their family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year after being instructed that it is a celebration of genocide. I’m sure the people behind this curriculum would be quite pleased if those young teens ended up lecturing their parents about genocide, war crimes and cultural appropriation. They might not be too disappointed if the kids flipped the table.
How pernicious. Of all the holidays celebrated in America, this is the one that focuses on a positive virtue, on an important aspect of healthy thinking: thanksgiving—being grateful for your blessings. What a vivid illustration of the toxicity of the leftist agenda that it is being twisted into an excuse to hate your country and to view your God-given blessings as evidence of racist oppression.
Teach Children Activism
American schoolchildren are also learning “climate literacy.” According to a 2016 Portland Public Schools resolution, all schools must “develop and implement curriculum that addresses climate change and climate justice” and must “abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.” It teaches children that entire economies must be redefined, that the fossil-fuel era must end, and that they must be activists and leaders for social justice and environmental justice.
What is “social justice”? Facing the Future, an education group, defines it as “the movement towards eliminating oppression and ultimately achieving equality in the distribution of goods and wealth among all groups in a society.”
If you think this is just about economics or even race, you are wrong. Activists, agents of the government, and businesses for profit are teaching young American students “activism,” “collectivism,” “equality in the distribution of goods and wealth” and “resistance.” This is how you teach a generation socialism and communism.
In many ways, the trend in education leans pro-socialist, anti-free market. Educators are eliminating competition, awarding trophies for participation rather than winning, and rejecting letter grades in favor of performance reviews. Curricula are replacing hard sciences and mathematics with social studies.
Little wonder that a 2018 Gallup poll showed that a majority of 18-to-29-year-olds have a positive view of socialism versus capitalism: 55 percent to 45 percent.
The love for socialism is matched by—and depends entirely on—historical illiteracy. History is taught less and less, and when it is, it is of the “Thanksgiving celebrates genocide” type, demonizing Western civilization.
A November 6 Telegraph article referred to a recent poll of 16-to-24-year-olds in the UK conducted by Survation. “It found that 28 percent had never heard of Stalin, almost half had never heard of Lenin, and an astonishing 70 percent had never heard of Mao Tse Tung, whose regime was responsible for more deaths through murder and famine than any other in the 20th century.”
Such ignorance is a tragedy. Those invaluable lessons of history were written at staggering cost, and we are casting them aside. An uneducated generation is now rushing to repeat history’s bloodiest errors.
Teaching at Home Vs. at School
A group in Kentucky called the Nehemiah Institute conducts an annual test of high school students to identify their beliefs regarding politics, economics, education, religion and social issues—and whether they agree with the Bible. This test determines which of four categories students’ worldviews fit: biblical theism, moderate Christian, secular humanism or socialism. The test in 2015 showed that, in the words of Dayspring Christian Academy, “90 percent of students from Christian homes attending public schools score in a range that indicates that their views are firmly grounded in basic tenets of secularism.”
In other words, the teaching at schools is more powerful than the teaching at home.
How critical is the education of our children! These leftist educators are taking it seriously. Proverbs 22:6 states, “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.” This is what God tells parents: We have a duty to train them, while young, in the way they should go to prepare them for success in life. These educators are applying this principle for perverse ends. They know that if they can implant radical concepts into young minds, they will retain them for life and thus refashion society.
If we are to train our children in the way they should go, we must know that way. Far too many parents do not, and are thus allowing educators to move in and fill young minds with error.
Over and again in the Bible, God tells us to remember: Remember history, remember your heritage, remember the truth, remember the old ways. And a crucial means of doing that, He emphasizes, is for parents to teach their children, and grandparents to teach their grandchildren.
God told Moses to instruct people, “Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children” (Deuteronomy 4:10; see also chapter 6:1-7). He emphasized that fathers are to teach their sons well enough that they know how to be fathers, so they can teach their sons.
God created us to live for 30 to 40 years after our childbearing years. He wants three or four generations to be alive at one time. He wants children to have grandparents and even great-grandparents—because He wants continuity. He wants the past to live.
What happens if we fail? Then that way will be forgotten! That knowledge will die out. In fact, it will perish in a single generation.
In our book Child Rearing With Vision (request your free copy) is a section titled “Parents Are Teachers,” which states, “A child must be taught how to live. When God created the human family, He intended that parents be the child’s first teachers. … Be prepared to educate your child from the moment he or she is born. Don’t wait for a schoolteacher to educate your child. You should view all schoolteachers as your assistants, not as your child’s primary educators.”
Deuteronomy 11 is an extraordinary passage, where Moses speaks directly to the remnant of the generation who experienced firsthand deliverance from Egyptian slavery. He tells them that the only way their children will remember that history is if they teach it, and says that cherishing and preserving that history was necessary for national survival!
It is almost painful to read, knowing what later happened to the nation of Israel. The period of the judges and of the kings that followed were marked by recurring spiritual failure—in large part because parents failed to fulfill their responsibility as educators.
Obedience to this command welds individual families into a single nation under God. It ensures national stability. Had Israel’s parents diligently followed this command, the nation would have maintained a significant hedge against departing from God’s way.
The importance of spiritual education to national survival isn’t a deep spiritual concept; it is common sense. At one time, Americans seemed to understand it.
One of America’s founders, Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence, wrote a publication, A Defense of the Use of the Bible as a Schoolbook, which stated, “Before I state my arguments in favor of teaching children to read by means of the Bible, I shall assume the … following propositions: 1) That Christianity is the only true and perfect religion, and that in proportion as mankind adopt its principles and obey its precepts, they will be wise and happy. 2) That a better knowledge of this religion is to be acquired by reading the Bible than in any other way. 3) That the Bible contains more knowledge necessary to man in his present state than any other book in the world.” This was common thinking at the time of America’s founding.
Samuel Adams, considered the father of the American Revolution, said, “Let divines and philosophers, statesmen and patriots, unite their endeavors to renovate the age, by impressing the minds of men with the importance of educating their little boys and girls—of inculcating in the minds of youth the fear and love of the deity and universal philanthropy; and in subordination to these great principles, the love of their country—of instructing them in the art of self-government, without which they never can act a wise part in the government of societies, great or small; in short, of leading them in the study and practice of the exalted virtues of the Christian system ….”
The founding generation was grounded in biblical principles, and they expected these to be the bedrock of education.
Clearly, much has changed. Schools have banished Bible education in favor of entirely humanist, secular thinking. They have expelled moral instruction and evicted God altogether.
Sadly, it isn’t just political indoctrination that educators are forcing on our children.
An nbc affiliate in Austin, Texas, reported on Oct. 28, 2019, “Austin Independent School District’s board unanimously approved a controversial new sex-education curriculum. The curriculum spans grades three through eight. Under the new curriculum, for the first time, the district will teach students about gender identity and sexual orientation. The lessons will also help kids identify an adult they can trust; plus talk to them about options if they get pregnant, and seventh graders would learn how to use a condom.”
I have a son in seventh grade—12 years old—and he attends school at Imperial Academy, the K-12 school on the Herbert W. Armstrong College campus, where the Trumpet is produced. He is going to school and learning science, math, English, history, literature and music. He and his classmates don’t have depraved educators forcing such filth on them. And as a result, they are learning, receiving real education, and still enjoying their childhood! They’re not even thinking about sexual orientation and sexual experimentation. They’re thinking about their science projects, their studies, their music practice—things that 12-year-olds should be thinking about!
This is something I regularly thank God for. Very few parents have the opportunity to give their children such an education. Many parents pretty well have to send their children to public school, and must then continually face these battles.
Another story that emerged in October was a series of videos posted on YouTube by Canada-based sex education group Sex-ed School and featured on the Shaftesbury Kids YouTube channel. What are the videos about? This is how the channel describes it: “Sex-ed School is a fun new web series for kids to get real info from experts and discover all the answers they want to know now. A series that explores the birds and the bees with ease in today’s digital landscape. Sex-ed School is a safe place where kids can talk openly and honestly about sexuality, the body and healthy relationships!” Funding comes in part from the Shaw Rocket Fund, Canada’s largest private investor dedicated to Canadian children’s media.
What do children learn in this “safe place”? Transgenderism, gender expression, sexual orientation, and many other topics I won’t even mention. In these clips with positive music, cartoonish-but-graphic graphics, chipper instructors speak to classrooms full of bright-eyed 12-to-14-year-olds. In one video, the teachers invite a special guest to speak to the children: a woman, covered in tattoos, with short-cropped purple hair, speaking to the children at her feet. She explains that she was a “drag king” and then had surgery and takes testosterone to lower her voice, answers children’s questions about taking hormones and whether she has “male or female parts,” holds an activity encouraging them to think as though they’re the opposite sex, and encourages them to be “allies.”
This goes well beyond simply not teaching the precepts of the Bible, or of morality, like Benjamin Rush and Samuel Adams said was foundational to education. This is teaching the opposite of the Bible—and in rank defiance of the Bible! These educators aren’t simply disrespecting the beliefs of any families of these children who believe in the Bible: They are willfully, actively attacking those beliefs, and the God-given authority of those children’s parents!
They are training up children in the way that they think those kids should go!
In November, the school board of District 211 in Illinois voted to allow biological males into the female locker room at Palatine High School. They argued that all students should be “treated and supported in a manner consistent with their gender identity.” The “rights” of one confused boy trump the rights of all the girls in that school to privacy, the right to changing clothes in a locker room with no boys present. A video of a young woman on the swim team at the high school who was present at the decision showed her crying. These board members and educators don’t care about her beliefs, or her privacy, or anyone else’s. They are zealously forcing their radical views on this student and on the public.
PJ Media reported on Nov. 8, 2019, “Last year in Canada, a first grade teacher told a 6-year-old girl that ‘there is no such thing as girls and boys’ and that ‘girls are not real and boys are not real.’ According to the girl’s parents, this caused their daughter a great deal of distress and amounted to discrimination against her. When the parents complained, the teacher defended her actions, and the principal defended the teacher as well. The parents moved their daughter to a different school.”
That is the way modern education is trending: If you don’t like your 6-year-old being indoctrinated in liberal sexual orthodoxy, you have to move.
These people are aggressive. And we as parents had better be aggressive in carrying out our responsibility as educators, or our children will be steamrolled. Just as society is being.
Civilization is a fragile thing. As Will Durant noted in The Story of Civilization, it is easily subject to destruction by forces external and internal: natural disaster, disease epidemic, financial exhaustion, mental decay, moral decay, leadership decay, decline in family, class wars, revolutions. These are some of the ways in which a civilization may die, he wrote: “For civilization is not something inborn or imperishable; it must be acquired anew by every generation, and any serious interruption in its financing or its transmission may bring it to an end.”
Civilization must be acquired anew by every generation. And the main factor in doing that is “education, which may be defined as the technique of transmitting civilization.” That is what education is: the passing on of civilization from one generation to the next.
And that education, of course, can be true—or false.
These evils that the devil has shoehorned into our educational system will destroy civilization in a single generation! Satan is creating a generation with no grounding in reality, no moral compass, no understanding of right and wrong, no history, no memory. And civilization itself is in peril.
Take seriously your God-given responsibility to be your child’s educator. Know what he or she is being taught in school—and take whatever steps are necessary to defend them. Actively train him in the way you know he should go. Your child is worth fighting for!