Raised an Orthodox Jew who attended yeshivas until college, I was brought up to regard schools as sacred institutions and to hold teachers in the same esteem I was to hold my parents. Such is the traditional Jewish view of education and teachers: They are engaged in God’s work.
My view of education has not changed; I still revere it. But my view of the American educational establishment has; I now hold it in disdain.
Such is the state of American education at this time that, for those who recall what true education consists of, no other view is possible.
American schools not only do not teach; they pervert the minds and souls of far too many American students. For decades, I have said that sending one’s child to an American college or university is equivalent to playing Russian roulette with his or her values. Today, this is equally true with regard to sending one’s child to many American elementary schools and high schools — private as well as public.
Here is an incomplete list of what most young Americans will be taught if they attend most American schools:
- The United States is no better — and has never been better — than other countries, and in many areas, it has been and remains morally inferior.
- America is an imperialist country. Domestically, it mistreats its minorities and neglects its poor.
- In literature and the arts, no work is better or worse than any other. Whether Batman comics are as good as, superior to, or inferior to Dostoevsky is entirely a subjective call.
- The reason universities in the past taught Shakespeare, Michelangelo and Bach rather than Guatemalan poets, Sri Lankan musicians or Native American storytellers is not because the Western works are superior, but because of “Eurocentric” racism.
- God is at best a nonissue and at worst a foolish and dangerous belief.
- Christianity is largely a history of inquisitions, crusades, oppression and anti-intellectualism. Islam, on the other hand, is a religion of peace. Therefore, criticism of Christianity is enlightened, while criticism of Islam is Islamophobic.
- Israel is a racist state, morally indistinguishable from apartheid South Africa.
- Big government is the most humane way to govern a country.
- The South votes Republican because it is racist and because the Republican Party caters to racists.
- Mothers and fathers are interchangeable. Neither is necessary — fathers less so than mothers.
- Any assertion that a married mother and father is the parental ideal is heterosexist and homophobic.
- All whites are racist. Non-whites cannot be racist.
- The great world and societal battles are not between good and evil, but between rich and poor, between the powerful and the powerless, and between whites and non-whites.
- Patriotism is a euphemism for chauvinism.
- The American flag represents racism and oppression.
- Human beings are animals. They differ from “other animals” only in having better brains.
- We live in a patriarchal society which, by definition, is injurious to women.
- Everyone except white Christian heterosexual males is a victim: Women are victims of men, blacks are victims of whites, Latinos are victims of Anglos, Muslims are victims of Christians, and gays are victims of straights.
- The American Founders were racist slaveholders whose primary concerns were preserving both their wealth and slavery.
- The Constitution does not have an objective meaning. It says what progressives think it should say.
- America’s dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was animated by racism.
- Capitalism is evil.
- Wealthy Western nations became wealthy by exploiting Third World nations through colonialism and imperialism.
- America was founded, and the Revolutionary War was fought, to preserve slavery.
- Defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman is as immoral as defining marriage as the union of a white and a white.
- Sexual identity is not fixed but subjectively determined by each individual.
- Men give birth. Therefore, people who give birth should no longer be referred to as “women” but as “birthing persons.”
Despite this list of immoral doctrines and outright lies, most American parents and many students go into debt in order to support institutions that, for four years — during the most impressionable years of a person’s life — instill values that are the opposite of those of most parents.
This is intentional. As Woodrow Wilson, progressive president of Princeton University before becoming president of the United States, said in a speech in 1914: “I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.”
In 1996, in his commencement address to the graduating seniors of Dartmouth College, then-president of the college, James O. Freedman, cited the Wilson quote favorably. And in 2002, in another commencement address, Freedman said that “the purpose of a college education is to question your father’s values.”
For Wilson, Freedman and countless other university presidents, the purpose of a college education is to question — actually, reject — the values by which you were raised, not to seek truth. Parents represent traditional American values. The university is there to undermine them.
As one of America’s leading intellectuals, Professor Victor Davis Hansen, recently wrote:
“The humanities have become too often anti-humanistic. And the social sciences are deductively anti-scientific. Both quasi-religious woke disciplines have eroded confidence in colleges and universities, infected even the STEM disciplines and professional schools, and torn apart the civic unity of the United States. Indeed, much of the current Jacobin revolution was birthed and fueled by American universities, despite their manifest hypocrisies and derelictions.”
The destructive nature of American schools is not only a function of the moral and intellectual chaos transmitted to young people. Equally destructive is the suppression of all intellectual dissent.
One does not understand the left if one does not understand that wherever the left wields power — whether in a school or in a country — it prohibits dissent. Since Lenin’s Communist Revolution in Russia, there has never been an example of the left allowing dissent. Liberals and conservatives allow dissent, but the left never has. (Why liberals support the left — and indeed, make left-wing political victories possible — is a question for another essay.)
That is why dissent is stifled at nearly all American schools. Consequently, for the first time in American history, young Americans do not believe in free speech. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly half of all young Americans do not believe “hate speech” should be permitted. And given that the left labels every idea with which it differs as “hate speech,” what this poll reveals is that about half of young Americans do not believe that non-left ideas should be allowed to be expressed.
But even if “hate speech” actually meant hate speech and not “speech that offends the left,” this would be a first in American history. By definition, supporting free speech means allowing hate speech. That half of America’s young people do not understand this is a direct result of their education — which taught them it is OK to stifle any speech they consider offensive and which failed to teach them that free speech includes hate speech. The moment society stifles speech that the powerful deem “hate,” free speech has ended.
In 1976, members of the American Nazi Party — i.e., real Nazis — planned to march in a Chicago suburb with a large Jewish community that included many Holocaust survivors. Nevertheless, so important to democracy did it deem the principle of free speech, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Illinois, whose lead lawyers were all Jews, went to court to fight for the Nazis’ right to march. (For the record, the ACLU is no longer a free speech organization.)
Given the state of American education, what is a parent to do if the parent believes in America, knows that capitalism is the only economic system that has lifted billions of people out of poverty, believes there are only two sexes, does not want their five-year-old to participate in “Drag Queen Story Hour,” and wants their child to cherish liberty?
Such parents have four options:
- Do nothing and hope that neither the elementary school, the high school nor the college their child attends will poison him or her.
- Fight against local school boards to make sure the school their child attends is not teaching poisonous, anti-American ideas.
- Move their child to a school that values education and truth.
- Home-school their child.
Let’s deal with each option.
Option one is by far the most popular. Most parents who choose to do nothing about their child’s school are simply unaware of the damage American schools do. They are happily oblivious to the left-wing indoctrination that masquerades as education.
But even most parents who are aware of the anti-American, anti-truth, innocence-destroying curricula of their children’s schools do nothing about it. For whatever reason, they believe the school won’t change their wonderful son or daughter. These parents should talk to the millions — yes, millions — of American parents whose children were malevolently transformed at university or earlier. Whenever I meet parents who hold traditional American values, I ask them how many children they have and how many of them share their parents’ values. About one-third of the time, the response is: “They all do.” And about one-third of the time, the response is: “None of them do.”
The second option has begun to be exercised. However, as important as it is for parents to speak up at local school board meetings, it is largely a cathartic exercise. Unless the parents run for those school board seats and succeed in unseating the ideologues that have taken over their school boards — and, more importantly, replace the left-wing teachers (who make up the majority of teachers) with teachers committed to education — parents speaking up at school board meetings are likely to accomplish little.
When a fine local school exists, the third option is obviously a viable one. But this is rarely a viable option because there are few fine local schools — if by fine, we mean: schools dedicated to truth, excellence and beauty; schools in which race has no importance; schools that teach music and art; schools which refer to students as “boys and girls,” not merely as genderless “students”; and, most importantly, schools in which the American mottos, “Liberty,” “In God We Trust,” and e pluribus unum (“from many, one”) are taught.
This leaves the fourth option: home schooling.
More American parents than ever are choosing home schooling. It is almost always the best choice because there are few arguments against home schooling.
So why do parents who are not committed to their children being indoctrinated into left-wing beliefs not home-school their children? There are two primary reasons. One is, as noted in option one, obliviousness to what is happening in their child’s school. The other is fear that the burden of home schooling will prove overwhelming. Parents assume that if both parents are wage earners, one of them will have to stay home and therefore give up most, or all, of his or her income. Parents also find home schooling intimidating; even if a parent is prepared to stay at home, how many parents are capable of teaching writing or math or science?
As regards losing income, parents should weigh some loss of income against the benefits of a happy, innocent well-educated child who honors them and their values. To my mind, there is no contest. I also suggest that grandparents, who often have more money than their children, offer to contribute to their grandchildren’s home schooling. If grandparents have any money to invest, this is the best thing they can do with that money.
As to the intimidation factor — the fear that the job is beyond their abilities — there are many quality home-school curricula available today and many home-school organizations that parents can tap into for guidance, help and task sharing. There are home-school consortiums that divide the teaching responsibilities and provide a community for parents and students alike.
I have met hundreds of home-schooled young people. I am always impressed by their maturity, breadth and depth of knowledge, and the respectful way they address adults. Perhaps the greatest difference between them and most of their peers who attend regular schools is that they are not jaded. While, of course, not every student who attends a regular school is jaded, vast numbers of them are. Among the many awful consequences of what has happened to our schools is that they produce young people who have lost the joie de vivre and wide-eyed innocence natural to young people. How could they not? They are taught they live in a despicable country founded by despicable men, that their future is existentially threatened by global warming, and that something as basic as the human species being divided between male and female is just a lie.
American parents can gamble with their children’s happiness, or they can find a better way to educate their children — through home schooling, an existing school that teaches their values, or even starting a new school. The current American educational establishment is not parents’ friend; it’s their adversary. The sooner parents wake up to this stark reality, the sooner positive change will happen.
Education got us into this mess. Education is the way out.