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Government & Politics        < Previous        Next >


Do Marxists Influence Our Schools?


Q. I think of schools as places where our children should be taught reading, writing and arithmetic, along with the other traditional school subjects and citizenship and phys ed and so forth. But primarily, schools are for academics, and helping our children read, write and figure well. But I keep hearing that our schools are being "radicalized" and that radical Marxist ideas are heavily influencing educational policy. Is there anything to this?


Well, you don't exactly see educators marching around in red outfits with large posters of Joseph Stalin or Mao Tse Tung. But through the philosophies espoused in the curriculum in teachers' colleges, and speeches and workshops given by consultants who couch their radical agenda in nice-sounding rhetoric, yes, the face of American education is changing rapidly into a Marxist face.


It starts with the way there is absolutely no connection between the taxing power that the government has to get revenues for schools, mostly from the "haves," and the lack of any accountability by the public over those who are spending their tax dollars. That matches the Marxist credo: "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need."


Educators say they are spending mostly on the "have nots." But the achievement gap between rich and poor continues to spread wider and wider in our schools. And the public doesn't have any way to force the educators to change their ways to narrow that gap instead of continuing to spend money to widen it. So the Marxist philosophies that took root in the 1960s and have come into full flower now that the Marxists are at the top of the education profession are revealing themselves to be very damaging to the very kids who need good schooling the most: the disadvantaged.


Consider these five additional points:


Universal Preschool. Government nurseries are straight out of the former Soviet Union. There's a big push from the leftist education establishment to get taxpayer-paid early childhood education funded as an entitlement for all children, ages 0 to 5. This is despite the clear evidence from three states that have the most government preschool, Georgia, Tennessee and Oklahoma, that government preschool holds kids back academically and behaviorally, especially the disadvantaged children that it supposedly helps. There's also a mountain of evidence that any advantages a poor child might get from attendance at Head Start, the multi-billion dollar government preschool program now in place, completely vanishes by third grade due to a "washout" effect - so Head Start is technically a colossal waste of money. However, those pushing "government nannies" aren't deterred. This appears to be "free" day care as a government power grab to indoctrinate young children in the government's worldview, instead of letting their own parents and families shape their views.


Constructivism. Marxist education ideologues such as Lev Vygotsky of the former USSR, Italian communist Antonio Gramsci and Marxist Paulo Freire of Brazil all influenced the anti-intellectual trends in education that have done the most damage to cognitive development: Whole Language reading philosophies instead of phonics, and "fuzzy math" instead of traditional math instruction. They got educators to buy in to the notion that kids learn best if they get to "construct" their own interpretations of the meaning of words, and their own methods of obtaining an answer to a math problem. Even if the interpretation of the text, or the math answer, are clearly wrong, it's OK, under constructivism, because the student "owns" the "process," and correct answers don't matter.


Anti-American, Anti-Family Political Correctness. Marxists beat the drum constantly for ending grouping in schools by ability, ending recognition of academic achievement, and depicting the United States as a racist, militarist country with nothing in its record to be proud of. They expunge words like "mother" and "father" from social studies texts and push same-sex marriage and other aberrations on students as if they were normal and acceptable. Under the guise of teaching children about "social justice," these "learning" activities and curricula also teach that capitalism is unfair and oppressive. This is why a high school history textbook may contain 14 pages of text about World War II, but it's all about "social justice" aspects of the war, without a word mentioned of the 40 million people who died, much less depicting the USA as being the good guys.


Data collection on students. The alarming computer databases being built on each student that record everything from dental records to political activities inside and outside school all are cross-linked with other databases in and out of the government and educational establishments, and able to be accessed at the microrecord level. This is disturbingly similar to the dang'an, or file, that is kept on every citizen in communist China.


Site-based management. To undermine the role of the elected school board, the concept of "driving authority down to the school level" became a fad in the 1990s and has hung around. Site councils are usually committees of appointed parents and teachers that are easily steered by teachers' union members who can out-muscle and out-talk parents or others without a hidden agenda to control curriculum and spending. That's why charter schools are dangerous: they are of no use in the long run as long as union members or those with teaching certificates are in the majority of the board of directors. Site councils, also known as "learning communities," for an individual school all the way up to a citywide council are nothing more than the old "soviets" - government by committee. It makes it very hard for individual citizens to make their feelings known or for citizens' groups to have any input into curriculum and spending decisions.



Homework: Radicalism has been shown repeatedly to FAIL to help students gain better academic achievement. Barack Obama and former Weatherman murderous terrorist Bill Ayers, now a Chicago education professor, were involved with the $150 million Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama was chairman of the board, and Ayers wrote the original grant. But the final report admits that all that money did nothing to help low-income students. It was all about building political capital for Obama by giving the money to "community organizations" with oftentimes radical agendas, not academic ones. But there was no help for student outcomes. See p. 1 of the executive summary:


By Susan Darst Williams Government & Politics 09 2008

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