THERE IS A WAR GOING ON IN AMERICA--a war of ideology. It’s being waged at public schools like mine.
As a student at Santa Monica High School in California, I have borne witness to this frightening trend. The problem is much far severe than many are aware. Aside from insultingly ludicrous practices such as handing out condoms to students in grades nine and up, writing announcements in Spanish, not saying the Pledge of Allegiance in accordance with district and state policy, Santa Monica High School has endeavored to indoctrinate its students in a manner so blatant and contrary to the tenets of education that it’s a wonder the school has gone uncriticized for so long.
The simple truth of the matter is that it would be impossible for me to attempt to mention everything my school has done that would warrant the scathing review that is to follow. Suffice it to say, those running the school and teaching the students have such deeply held leftwing beliefs that they cannot help but spread their agendas to the young people entrusted to their care. This is evidenced in nearly every facet of the school, and has resulted in the indoctrination of thousands of students, some unaffected, but many more misinformed, misguided, and misdirected.
The school showed its true colors subsequent to 9/11--and they weren't red, white and blue. The school newspaper condemned the notion of a military response. A Muslim leader was brought to the school to explain the splendor and glory of Islam. One of our administrators, who should have been reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, instead got on the PA and questioned the morality of our pending air campaign. Perhaps most discomforting, was when several days after 9/11 my history teacher handed out a lengthy article lambasting the United States as absolutely wicked and condemning the notion of a military response. The article inquired, "Do we have a right to exploit the poor folk of the world for our benefit, because we claim we are free and they are not?" Worse still, the article explained how "our troops wiped out some 5,000 poor people in Panama's El Chorillo neighborhood on the excuse of looking for Noriega," and that "Ariel Sharon planned, then ordered, the massacre of two thousand poor Palestinians." The article ended with the question, "Why are so many people in the world willing to die to give us a taste of what we gave them?" The arguments made by this article are not merely biased, they are wrong. Some students in the class got that impression and questioned the teacher on the validity of the article's absurd accusations, but the teacher explained that yes, the article was completely accurate.
In an effort to provide the school with some balance, I wrote and article for the school paper justifying a military response. This offended many, including that same history teacher, who asked for permission to read it in front of the class, then proceeded to do so mockingly and endeavored to explain why I was dead wrong. The consensus among the students was that he was a teacher and must know more than me. It was indoctrination at its best.
As seen in this example, successful indoctrination often requires ruthless tactics. Teachers are quite aware of the weight their words carry, and when teachers hand out articles, they invariably select leftist ones, supplying students with a misleading or non-existent presentation of the other side. One time a girl of Hispanic descent who was aware of my conservative ideology, came up to me and handed me an article to prove me wrong--an article that she was clearly using as part of the reasoning for her beliefs. The article alleged that the white person was "an oppressor, an unfairly advantaged person, a participant in a damaged culture," and that whites "enjoy unearned skin privilege and have been conditioned into oblivion about its existence." Where did the girl get this article? From her teacher. Was there a conservative article for her to read as well? Of course not.
The leftist bias at Santa Monica High School is not limited to current events but distorts history as well. I vividly recall learning about the American Revolution. However, one very important memory is missing. I have no recollection of any mention of the Second Amendment. Fortunately for me, I already know about that great freedom which is cherished by all law-abiding Americans. I also know, based on observation and conversation, that many of my classmates do not know about the right to keep and bear arms, and moreover, why our founding fathers felt compelled to include it in the Bill of Rights. Teachers have a responsibility to educate their students about all our freedoms, not just the ones they like, and to do so in an impartial manner. To only educate students about what's important to the political left robs students of their freedom to choose their own belief system based on an open and fair presentation of the facts. It also demonstrates that leftist educators fear what might happen if students were exposed to alternate points of view. With schools like this, is it any wonder that California has some of the most restrictive gun control laws (and highest crime) in the nation?
My school prides itself on its diversity. We have a huge mural of Cesar Chavez, multicultural week, celebrations for Mexican holidays, events with tribal African dancers, there is a Chicano literature class, etc. Thus, it was with great surprise that I learned of the school's opposition to Larry Elder, a libertarian and fiscal conservative, coming to speak at our school. After all, we have had plenty of leftist speakers in the past, and to my knowledge, no conservative speakers. Would the school's love for diversity not demand that they allow Larry Elder to speak? It was then that I learned my school cared only for racial diversity and that diversity of opinion, was, in short, not tolerated. In the final agreement they allowed Larry Elder to come, but required that he be balanced, a condition not set for any leftist that had come to speak. In subsequent months, continuing to be outspoken and appearing on the Larry Elder show, complaints and criticisms from disgruntled teachers and chagrined administrators made it painfully clear that they were actually concerned about the presence of conservative thought on campus. To many of the faculty of Santa Monica High School, the very utterance of conservative ideology was considered anathema to education.
It is this sentiment that explains what happened to David Horowitz. A friend of mine received a call at home one Thursday evening about Mr. Horowitz's already scheduled and approved visit to speak at Santa Monica High School the following Monday. The administration had discovered what would have been obvious to anyone who was exposed to alternate points of view, which was that the David Horowitz we invited was not the Emmy-Award winning consumer advocate, but the outspoken conservative. Consequently, his appearance was cancelled-not balanced, but cancelled. As told to my friend, and later in a meeting to me as well, the reasoning for not permitting David Horowitz to speak was because his ideas would hurt students' performance on tests and distract them from their work, an unacceptable prospect at this time of year. This is frightening. My administrator was essentially telling me that because everything the school had taught students was leftist, the shock of a conservative would be too much to bear. If this notion were carried to its logical conclusion, it would no doubt be deemed irresponsible for any teacher or administrator to allow conservative ideas on campus, as it would irreparably damage students' academic success.
By the way, among those leftist speakers that came after Larry Elder was Dolores Huerta, a Chicana activist who led a march against the local hotel for not paying its Hispanic workers enough--a march garnering participation from students, administrators, and even the superintendent. Students and administrators are chanting "Si Se Puede," side by side in a march that required police intervention. And they don't want David Horowitz to come because they are worried that he might distract students from their studies? Obviously the administration had another concern in mind. Larry Elder, who not only espoused non-leftist beliefs, but also supported them with facts and recommended books for everyone to read, had placed the indoctrination of the students in peril. They were determined to prevent this situation from happening again. At this time of year, it would be impossible to follow David Horowitz with a slew of liberal speakers, as they did Larry Elder, and thus they used the only means left to them: censorship.
A friend of mine once wrote an essay supporting and rationalizing the US decision to use the atomic bomb against Japan in WWII and found that his score was significantly lower than those students who were more critical of the US decision. I too suffered as a result of writing a conservative essay. Asked to write an essay about what causes poverty, I chose to attribute it to crime, out of wedlock births, and government intervention, and found that my score was not only unusually low, but equal to that of a student who wrote a short, unintelligible essay at 4:00am on the morning before it was due, but unlike mine, wanted more and not less welfare. (See "Strange Times at Santa Monica High" by Larry Elder.) In so doing, my teacher sent a very clear message to his students: Leftist ideas are good, and conservative ideas are bad. You demonstrate politically incorrect thinking, and you suffer the consequences. Teachers are supposed to grade-down assignments in order to compel their students to change their grammar, mechanics, or methodology--not their beliefs.
Ever hear that repetition is one of the best ways to learn? It's one of the first things a teacher will tell you, and perhaps it explains why teachers have criticized, insulted, or demeaned President Bush more time's than I can count. However, sometimes teachers will find less direct means for indoctrinating their students. For a short time I believed my History teacher had skipped over the Mexican-American war--that was until I discovered that he just had his own name for it: "The North American Invasion." I felt that this was particularly abhorrent considering that there are a number of students in my class of Mexican descent who while before only had friends decrying US ownership of the Southwestern United States, now had a teacher doing it as well. The result? An increased likelihood that rather than assimilating and striving to achieve an American education, such students will cling on to the ridiculous notion that the white man is holding them back, like he did their ancestors. One of the reason our school loves teaching History from this anti-American and unpatriotic outlook, preferring to instill them with romantic depictions of foreign countries, is that there is a popular notion that minority students can't succeed if they don't learn about their cultures and about their nationality (Asian and Jewish students aside). When, in reality, the best thing for students is to learn that America is their culture and their nationality, and that their ancestors came here for a reason.
What I find most ironic is that in the face of all this multiculturalism students of color and white students still don't eat lunch together. But when you think about it, it makes perfect sense. When everything is racialized, when the school will go to such great lengths to avoid patriotism as to openly defy policy requiring a daily Pledge of Allegiance, what else can you expect? Are students going to look at one another as equals and Americans, or as assorted hyphenated groups suffering from varying levels of discrimination?
As I said before, there simply is more indoctrination going on than there is space to write about it. In short, teachers hand out left-wing articles with little or no balance, administrators avoid conservative speakers at all costs, liberals are routinely brought in who assert the same positions that teachers drill into their students, the expression of conservative ideas carries with it the risk of being penalized, multiculturalism is coupled with anti-Americanism, and history is rewritten leaving out anything that might cause students to be patriotic, or worst of all, conservative. In the end, what I find most offensive is that the leftists in charge actually claim they are open-minded while those on the right are narrow-minded and that everything they are doing is in the best interest of the students. Either they actually believe that is the case, or they know what they are doing is wrong. Whichever it is, they have failed to do what they are paid by all of us to do: Educate. Instead, they indoctrinate, and that is a crime.