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Is Liberal Agenda Advocacy Just The Norm In Teaching Now?

*Record screech* … Wait, what did I just read?!

“New teachers, I’m sorry if we veteran educators have misguided you about the profession. It’s not about cute classrooms & trendy ideas. It’s political. It’s advocacy. It’s the front line of battle for the future of our nation. Go no further if you’re not ready.”

Okay, that’s terrible. But surely it’s just some random leftist twitter warrior. Right? No teacher with any type of actual influence would say something like this. He’d be fired immediately. Right?! So I did a little digging—and it turns out this guy isn’t a nobody afterall.

“This teacher has won plenty of accolades such as GQ Magazines’ Male Leader of the Year, and finished in the top 5 for Teacher of the Year in SC, as well as winning an award from President Obama for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching, The SC Dept of Ed released a glowing report on Mr. Dearbury which can be viewed here.”

If you skim the comments in our social media ads and posts you’ll find teachers who sometimes take offense at our books and the values and principles they promote. One teacher from Texas made the point that he didn’t have to fight us because he had our children for eight hours a day and he could teach them whatever he wanted without parents even knowing—much less having the power to stop him.

Awhile back I wrote about a new trend that saw teachers abandoning their beloved profession because they could no longer in good conscience be part of a system made to indoctrinate children into political ideology.  Those teachers find themselves in good company.

When I wrote The Tuttle Twins and the Education Vacation  I was heavily inspired by John Taylor Gatto who famously declared “I am no longer willing to hurt children.” Mr. Gatto resigned from teaching by writing an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal  while holding the title of New York State Teacher of the Year. Excuse my sharing this lengthy chunk of text, but it’s worth reading.

I’ve taught public school for 26 years but I just can’t do it anymore. For years I asked the local school board and superintendent to let me teach a curriculum that doesn’t hurt kids, but they had other fish to fry. So I’m going to quit, I think.

I’ve come slowly to understand what it is I really teach: A curriculum of confusion, class position, arbitrary justice, vulgarity, rudeness, disrespect for privacy, indifference to quality, and utter dependency. I teach how to fit into a world I don’t want to live in.

I just can’t do it anymore. I can’t train children to wait to be told what to do; I can’t train people to drop what they are doing when a bell sounds; I can’t persuade children to feel some justice in their class placement when there isn’t any, and I can’t persuade children to believe teachers have valuable secrets they can acquire by becoming our disciples. That isn’t true.

Government schooling is the most radical adventure in history. It kills the family by monopolizing the best times of childhood and by teaching disrespect for home and parents.

An exaggeration? Hardly. Parents aren’t meant to participate in our form of schooling, rhetoric to the contrary. My orders as schoolteacher are to make children fit an animal training system, not to help each find his or her personal path.

The whole blueprint of school procedure is Egyptian, not Greek or Roman. It grows from the faith that human value is a scarce thing, represented symbolically by the narrow peak of a pyramid.

That idea passed into American history through the Puritans. It found its “scientific” presentation in the bell curve, along which talent supposedly apportions itself by some Iron Law of biology.

It’s a religious idea and school is its church. New York City hires me to be a priest. I offer rituals to keep heresy at bay. I provide documentation to justify the heavenly pyramid.

Socrates foresaw that if teaching became a formal profession something like this would happen. Professional interest is best served by making what is easy to do seem hard; by subordinating laity to priesthood. School has become too vital a jobs project, contract-giver and protector of the social order to allow itself to be “re-formed.” It has political allies to guard its marches.

That’s why reforms come and go-without changing much. Even reformers can’t imagine school much different.

David learns to read at age four; Rachel, at age nine: In normal development, when both are 13, you can’t tell which one learned first — the five-year spread means nothing at all. But in school I will label Rachel “learning disabled” and slow David down a bit, too.

For a paycheck, I adjust David to depend on me to tell him when to go and stop. He won’t outgrow that dependency. I identify Rachel as discount merchandise, “special education.” After a few months she’ll be locked into her place forever.

In 26 years of teaching rich kids and poor, I almost never met a “learning disabled” child; hardly ever met a “gifted and talented” one, either. Like all school categories, these are sacred myths, created by the human imagination. They derive from questionable values we never examine because they preserve the temple of schooling.

That’s the secret behind short-answer tests, bells, uniform time blocks, age grading, standardization, and all the rest of the school religion punishing our nation.

There isn’t a right way to become educated; there are as many ways as fingerprints. We don’t need state-certified teachers to make education happen–that probably guarantees it won’t.

How much more evidence is necessary? Good schools don’t need more money or a longer year; they need real free-market choices, variety that speaks to every need and runs risks. We don’t need a national curriculum, or national testing either. Both initiatives arise from ignorance of how people learn, or deliberate indifference to it.

I can’t teach this way any longer. If you hear of a job where I don’t have to hurt kids to make a living, let me know. Come fall I’ll be looking for work, I think.

If we take what Mr. Gatto recognized in 1991, and couple it with the open agenda of leftist indoctrination that Mr. Dearybury embodies, we have a truly shocking picture of what public education has become. A comment on our Facebook page in response to Mr. Dearybury’s tweet puts it in perspective.

Joseph T. wrote, “I went into education with the desire to educate children and change lives for the better. As I worked on my MAT, and gained internship hours, the more I learned that public education was not for me, nor for my growing family… Public school has become little more than “affordable” daycare that pushes agenda driven group think. The school system essentially raises the children for the parents, who were largely absent from the lives of the children in the schools I worked in. The best way to combat this wrong headed indoctrination is to pull our children out of these failed institutions of “higher learning” and raise them ourselves with meaningful values, an understanding of history, and the ability to critically think for themselves. School is not the way it was when I went, and I want my daughter to have better. It should tell you something when school teachers homeschool and/or send their children to private school. As for me, I’m looking for new work. I’m out. Good riddance.”

I don’t argue that there are still good teachers out there who either keep their politics out of the classroom or who recognize that one-size-fits-all education doesn’t work and try to meet the needs of individual students. But I have to wonder how much longer teachers like these will even be allowed to teach… or how much longer they’ll last in the current system until they burn out, as many have.

I believe that we are seeing the beginning of the end of the public education system as a viable option for anyone who doesn’t want their children mass-indoctrinated into far-left thinking. Many good teachers are quitting because they, like Mr. Gatto before them, can no longer hurt children. I’m unconvinced that this system can be reformed from within; alternatives are needed, and many exciting ones are popping up. Caring parents need to decide whether the heavy agendas being driven into students are appropriate for their children. As for me and my house, we steer clear.

— Connor