Frontpage Interview’s guests today are Karen Holgate and Steve Baldwin, the co-editors of the new book From Crayons to Condoms.
Karen Holgate is a nationally known advocate for education reform. Her articles and policy reports have appeared in publications including the Congressional Quarterly, Investors Business Daily, the Washington Times, and Insight Magazine. She has appeared on CBS, NBC and Fox news shows.
Steve Baldwin is currently the Executive Director of the Council for National Policy and is formerly the chairman of the California Legislature's Education Committee.
FP: Karen Holgate and Steve Baldwin, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Holgate: Thank you.
Baldwin: Thanks for interviewing us.
FP: Give us a brief overview of what is taking place in public schools today. Why is this happening?
Holgate: We are seeing a dramatic shift in education from “effective” education, meaning concrete academics, to “affective” education, meaning the teaching of attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviors. One of the reasons for this “shift” is that activist legislators are mandating that teachers divert valuable classroom time from solid academics to the promotion of personal agendas.
Baldwin: Our schools have become laboratories for social engineering and are no longer places where knowledge is transmitted.
FP: What are some ways that valuable classroom time is wasted in our public schools? Tell us some of the more bizarre examples.
Baldwin: Whole language, death education, New Math, cooperative learning, inventive spelling and many other fads that have little to do with education.
Holgate: Under the guise of “tolerance” and reducing “hate crimes,” students are often indoctrinated with the idea that there is no difference between homosexuality and heterosexuality even though what is being taught may violate the personal or religious beliefs of many of the students and their families. Homosexual, bi-sexual, and transgendered panels are often brought in to discuss their lifestyles. However, heterosexuals are not usually a part of any discussion.
Certainly no student should ever be bullied, harassed, or ridiculed. However, classes are not needed for that; any student who harms or bullies another child for any reason should be disciplined. If we really want to address tolerance then we need to respect – and yes, tolerate -- differences of opinion. Unfortunately, that is not being done in many classrooms across America. Far too often, students who voice any opinion different than that being taught are labeled “intolerant.”
FP: What are some examples of the explicit and graphic information about sex that is being taught in public schools?
Holgate: Before I answer that I want to explain that Steve and I had long discussions about whether to include some of the actual language and material that is used in classrooms. We finally decided that we would include some examples with both a disclaimer and a warning. Our decision was based on the fact that if the material is too explicit and crude for parents to see then it is that much worse for our children. Some of the examples include references to performing oral sex or using saran wrap as an alternative to an “oral dam.” Other examples show how core academics are infiltrated with sexual references. For instance, an American history class invited the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Speaker’s Bureau to address the class about Civil Rights. The same class included a handout that said that students don’t receive enough information about safe-sex including male-to-male sex in the teen population.
Baldwin: Current sex ed programs are based upon the bogus Kinsey theory that children are sexual creatures and thus should be taught early on how to be sexual. Perversity and pornography are rampant in sex ed today.
FP: Describe the required courses in "death education" that now actually encourage teen depression and suicide. Also tell us about the math classes in which students are instructed to write about how they "feel" about math rather than actually doing math.
Baldwin: Death ed is when children are exposed to games and literature that focus on morbid themes, the result being that some kids are pushed over the line. New Math is commonplace today and that is when teaching feelings trumps computational skills.
Holgate: It isn’t unusual for children – as young as elementary school age – to be asked to write their own epitaphs on their tombstones. One teacher asked students to write about being “done in by someone they loved.” In other words, have the child write about someone they loved murdering them. Psychologists who reviewed the material were concerned that teachers not trained in psychology could generate real conflict in a child’s life and not be aware of it. One told us that these types of exercises are not necessary for healthy children but could be disastrous for a troubled child.
The idea of integrated curricula drives much of today’s education. Death ed is just one area. Another is integrated math in which teachers are instructed to engage children’s emotions. One third grade math curriculum instructed teachers to use examples such as “Freddie Kruger, my death brother, maggots, monsters with big eyes,” etc. The parents of one of those students reported that their daughter was having nightmares and started coming into their room at night because she was so scared. They finally traced it to her math class.
FP: Can you talk a little bit about how schools too often promote “self-esteem” at the expense of other things and why this is harmful?
Holgate: Too often we hear that a student’s work is not corrected or a higher grade is given so that the child’s “self-esteem” is not damaged. For instance, creative or inventive spelling is discussed in the book. The idea is that correcting a student’s bad spelling will in some way harm the child. Yet the reality is that self-esteem cannot be awarded, it is earned through accomplishment.
Baldwin: Self esteem has now taken the place of real work in our schools so it’s really a fake self esteem that ends up doing more harm than good. Children are being praised for lousy work and even work they didn't do.
FP: The liberal-Left was up in arms for a long time to shut down prayer in public schools, but now praying to Allah has become an everyday thing and the lib-Left says nothing about it. Tell us about this phenomenon and why the Left is silent.
Baldwin: The movement to eliminate religion from schools was essentially a movement to eliminate Christianity; other religions -- especially Islam and new age -- are being promoted in schools throughout the nation.
Holgate: We’ve all heard stories about teachers and students not being allowed to pray in schools or bring their Bibles to school. But unfortunately, when it comes to Islam there is a new standard. As the stories in From Crayons to Condoms show, Islam is not always being taught just as a comparative religion class but actually involves students in Islamic religious rituals. One teacher reported that while she was substitute teaching she was instructed to leave the classroom for an hour while another school employee came to the classroom to lead the students in their prayers to Allah. Certainly the ACLU would file a lawsuit if a public school led children in prayers to God.
FP: Can our schools be saved? How?
Holgate: I’m not sure the public school system as a whole can be saved. However, there is a lot that parents can do that will help protect their own children. For that reason, we included a chapter designed to give parents some practical steps they can take that can help. And for those who want to make a broader impact, we have also included information about ways to do that.
Baldwin: Vouchers might help since the current public education monopoly has no incentive to reform.
FP: Karen Holgate and Steve Baldwin, thank you for joining Frontpage Interview.
Holgate: Thank you. Steve and I would love to hear from your readers. We can be contacted at FromCrayonstoCondoms.com. If anyone wants to share their personal stories, we’d love to hear those too.
Baldwin: Thank you.