By Hank Beckman -
The Illinois General Assembly has scheduled a Feb. 16 vote on whether or not to do away with the Illinois State Board of Education’s new rule that would require culturally responsive teaching standards to be required for all Illinois teacher preparation programs.
Anyone thinking the new rule is just an honest, good-faith attempt to to be inclusive and sensitive will be disabused of that notion by a quick perusal of the document.
Titled “Culturally Responsive Teaching And Leading Standards For All Illinois Educators,” the document is filled with woke jargon about “equity,” “exploring intersectional identities,” and “systems of oppression.”
Passed by ISBE in December, it immediately drew criticism for the section that called for embracing “progressive viewpoints and perspectives.” The wording was changed to “inclusive,” but does anyone doubt that it only conceals what will undoubtedly be mandated political agenda for the state’s teachers?
Another change prompted by criticism is scratching the term “activism” and replacing it with “leveraging student advocacy.” The document doesn’t really define what type of advocacy it seeks to leverage, but being among the most liberal demographics in the country, we can hardly expect public school teachers to be encouraging students to advocate for the pro-life cause or enhanced border security.
To fully grasp the importance of fighting this leftist indoctrination, one need only consider this woke little gem of a reaction from one 14-year American girl to the movie “Dunkirk.”
“Isn’t it just a bunch of white boys waiting for boats?”
That was it. Just another pleasant day at the beach, apparently.
No awareness that these “white boys” were taking part in a life-and-death struggle against Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich, one of the most evil, destructive forces in world history. No realization that these kids were fighting against a legitimately racist enemy, not the imaginary boogeymen of white supremacists Joe Biden imagines lurking around every corner. And not a hint of sympathy for young men only a few years older than her facing death from an advanced military dropping bombs on them and strafing them with machine gun fire.
The young lady’s mother volunteered the reaction on her Twitter page, and judging from the rest of her posts, mom was proud of her daughter. Suffice it to say that mom is not a traditionalist.
Mother and daughter likely hold their world views because they’ve absorbed leftist values from a largely leftist public education establishment whose teachers were taught by leftist professors who have effectively spent the last half-century engaging in the “long march though the institutions,” a phrase sometimes attributed to Italian communist Antonio Gramsci.
Gramsci was referring to all of the institutions that make up civil society, but none was so important to the Left as the education establishment.
It is an article of faith among many modern educators that America is irredeemably racist and sexist. Our children are taught that capitalism is evil, Western Civilization is responsible for every problem in the world, and every idea that it produced is suspect.
That’s the intellectual environment responsible for a young girl casually dismissing some of the greatest heroes of the last fifty years as just some palefaces who just happened to be waiting for some boats.
It’s not as if we haven’t been warned about this perversion of America’s education establishment. While many conservatives like to point to George Orwell as having eerily forecasted the modern-day left’s distortion of language and flight from reality, one needn’t go back to the 1940s to find antecedents of the woke nonsense metastasizing through our culture today.
In 1995, Lynne Cheney published “Telling The Truth: Why Our Culture and Our Country Have Stopped Making Sense—and What We Can Do About It.”
A full quarter century ago, Cheney warned us about the leftist orthodoxy established in the humanities and social sciences of our universities.
She titled her chapters after noted sayings from Orwell’s “1984” that outlined how prescient he really was.
Cheney brought to her reader’s attention the growing influence of political correctness in academia, including the expanding definition of sexual harassment, the categorizing of anything related to Western Civilization as bigoted, colonialist philosophy, and the categorically positive portrayal of non-Western cultures.
In a chapter titled, “Only the Thought Police Mattered,” she related how a one annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians had sessions on every non-European culture, the woman’s and labor movements, and gay and lesbian history, but not one session devoted to our Founding Fathers or World War ll.
Is it any wonder that a 14-year-old in 2021 has such a callous reaction to “Dunkirk?”
Thomas Sowell’s 1993 offering, “Inside American Education: The Decline, The Deception, The Dogmas,” represents another early warning about the state of education, especially K-12.
He highlighted the decline in test scores of American students relative to their counterparts overseas, a general lowering of standards, and a focus on what he termed “psychotherapeutic” education and an inordinate focus on student self esteem to the exclusion of actual knowledge.
In one segment, Sowell writes about a student who confused the Vietnam and Korean wars and expressed no embarrassment whatsoever about the gaffe.
When asked by a reporter if he was bothered being wrong, the boy, described as the smartest student in class, said the teacher had told him “that we were worth listening to, that we could express ourselves, and that an adult would listen, even if we were wrong.”
Sowell also shows that the the correlation between money spent-per pupil and academic performance was often exaggerated or nonexistent.
The obvious response from the Left would be that Cheney and Sowell are right wing ideologues and therefor not to be trusted on the matter of truthful education.
But no less a liberal icon than Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a card-carrying post-war liberal, Pulitzer Prize winning historian who taught at Harvard and served as an assistant in John Kennedy’s White House, also noticed the distortion of history.
Published in 1992, Schlesinger’s “The Disuniting Of America: Reflections on a Multicultural Society,” could be considered an early warning of the perversion of history and the way it’s now taught in American schools.
Before there was an openly racist 1619 Project, before the ridiculous critical race theory was inflicted on our schoolchildren, Schlesinger warned of the distorted view of history that was becoming popular in our education establishment.
He explained how many establishment historians portrayed history in an “exculpatory” manner, seeking to justify society’s origins and growth to prominence while glossing over any mistakes or dark episodes that occurred along the way—like slavery.
But Schlesinger pointed out that just as exculpatory history was a distortion of the past, so too was the “compensatory history” that inevitably comes from marginalized groups. As marginalized groups became more established in America, they understandably began to shape history to highlight the wrongs that had been done to their group and its contributions, real or imagined.
Schlesinger characterized this compensatory history with one what one scholar called there’s-always-an-Irishman-at-the-bottom-of-it-doing-the-real-work approach to American history.
All very human and understandable, but as Schlesinger pointed out, dishonest history is not less dishonest because of the noble intentions of the people who write the “noble lies,” a concept originating with Plato in “The Republic.”
As Schlesinger noted, black scholars began producing Afrocentric history based largely on the “African-American Baseline Essays” that claimed, among other fabrications, that Egypt was a black African nation, that Africa was the birthplace of Western Civilization, and that blacks discovered America long before Columbus.
One of the essays even claimed that Beethoven was “Afro-European.”
It’s late in the game and far too many of us have been guilty of ignoring the lies and distortions fed to our children on a daily basis.
But you can still make a difference by contacting your state representatives and local school boards and let them know you are outraged at this latest attempt to brainwash our youth.