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First appeared in print in The Rhinoceros Times, Greensboro, NC
By Orson Scott Card February 14,, 2010

How to Get Stupid Children

Practically everyone agrees that American schools are doing a lousy job of teaching history to our children.

But there are two opposite views of what the problem is.

A lot of us think the schools are failing to teach our children the roots of the American system -- the Constitution, the great men who founded our republic and brought it through its early struggles, especially the fight to abolish slavery, the wars and why we fought them, the development of the frontier, the growth of technology.

When I was a kid in California -- when that state had the finest public schools in the world -- that's precisely what I was taught. And the goal of the teaching of history in those days was to turn out informed citizens who knew how we came to be the nation we are today.

But there are a lot of other people -- including the entire educational establishment of our state (and almost every other state as well!) -- that thinks the reason our public-school history teaching is lousy is because we spend way too much time on all that early stuff that nobody cares about anymore, and don't do enough to give our kids the full array of politically correct opinions.

As long as a single child grows up to vote Republican, these educators feel that they have failed.

So, here in the great state of North Carolina, they have come up with the perfect solution: Secede from the United States of America, and teach only the history of Politically Correct America.

The way they plan to do this is to stop teaching our 11th-graders any American history prior to 1877. This is not a joke. This is a real proposal from our state Department of Public Instruction.

Let's see ... what does that leave out?

The colonizing of America. The Revolutionary War. George Washington and the creation of a republic that doesn't lead to "presidents-for-life."

The ideas and compromises leading up to the Constitution.

Alexander Hamilton and the creation of our economic system.

The Monroe Doctrine, Andrew Jackson's populism, Manifest Destiny, the Mexican War and the nation's growth to the west coast.

The political struggles over slavery leading up to the Civil War. Abraham Lincoln and the freeing of the slaves. The Reconstruction of the South, with the Republican Party forcing the South to accept black voters and office holders.

Yeah, that's all they're cutting out.

But look what they're going to keep! Starting at 1877 is a highly significant move, because that means they're going to start with the disputed Hayes-Tilden election of 1876, which was stolen by the Republican Party through a naked power grab -- one which only became possible because the Republican Party quietly agreed to abandon support and protection of the rights of blacks in the South, which opened the door to Jim Crow.

Which means they're going to skip the part of American history where Republicans were solely responsible -- over the bloody opposition of the Democratic Party -- for freeing black people from slavery. You know, that altruistic war where an army composed mostly of white people from the north shed their blood to end the "right" of states to secede from the union so they could continue to enslave other human beings.

Instead, we'll get a picture of America where black people are always oppressed by white people, and only the Democratic Party has acted to give them rights.

(We know this is the goal, since kids even now can get through the study of the 1960s without having a clue that Lyndon Johnson's Voting Rights and Civil Rights acts only passed Congress because of strong Republican support that allowed the override of the diehard segregationists of the Democratic Party.)

The Leftaliban version of American history has clearcut black-and-white good-vs.-evil stories to tell.

On the Good List: The Democratic Party, FDR, civil rights, Martin Luther King Jr., Vietnam War doves and protestors, environmentalists, unions, unlimited abortion, gay rights advocates, and big paternalistic government.

On the Bad List: The Republican Party, anti-Communists, the Department of Defense and the U.S. military, all corporations except Ben & Jerry's, religion (especially conservative or orthodox religions, especially Christians who dare to vote), the Old South, deregulation, pro-lifers, capitalism, free enterprise, globalism and the IMF, protectors of traditional marriage, any human activity that impacts the environment (which is all of them except Al Gore's plane), and all wars we have fought and are fighting in the Middle East or against terrorists.

Now, they may actually toss a bone to a few on the Bad List now and then, but in the main, this is how recent history is already taught.

When they stop teaching American history before 1877, that will mean that everything that has made America a great, exceptional nation that has inspired and, yes, saved the world repeatedly, and is still the inspiration for true reformers in every part of the world -- all those things will be ignored.

But everything that advances the political agenda of the extreme Left today -- you know, the totalitarian wannabes who prevent anyone who openly disagrees with them from getting tenure at any university they control (which is nearly all of them), and who have completely taken over the teachers' unions and the education establishment almost everywhere.

If these people loved America -- and I don't mean "patriotism," I mean deep commitment to the philosophy of government on which our republic was founded and which created an environment of liberty that has blessed the entire world -- it would be inconceivable that they would drop the entire story of the formation of our nation.

But, you see, that "narrative" -- the story of Franklin, Paine, Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton, Jackson, and Lincoln -- is useless to them. It hurts them. It encourages people to think for themselves.

It provides examples that are useful to populist movements like the Tea Parties and to Republicans and Libertarians who advocate smaller, less-intrusive government. You can't teach pre-1877 history without instilling some

of those values

American history after 1876, on the other hand, can easily be spun so that it supports the false, self-serving narrative of the Leftaliban. And, like the Taliban and other totalitarian systems before them, they know that unless they get complete control of education, they can't stop kids from growing up into opponents of their regime.

It's not just limited to the teaching of 11th-grade history, either. Ninth-grade "world history" will now have a big unit on "the environment."

Be warned: The real science of ecology would be taught as a unit in a biology course. The moment it is called "the environment" and is moved into world history, it is going to be nothing but the establishment of the religion of Environmentalism.

You know, the religion that has no god except "the way the Earth was before man" but has a definite devil: global warming. The religion that pretends to be science based (they do love publishing polls of scientists) but does everything possible to block publication of any actual scientific findings that don't support their views, and which produces "findings" that are as faked-up as any "findings" of creationists or intelligent-designists.

Already the Leftist education establishment makes it so uncomfortable for teachers with moderate or conservative views that many of them leave the profession entirely and the others keep their heads down and don't bother trying to influence the teachers' organizations, school administrations, and state government.

But with all they have taken over so far, the extreme Left is still unhappy because, doggone it, people keep voting for Republicans! How can they stamp out all this stupidity and ignorance? (Stupidity and ignorance being defined, of course, as "disagrees with the Correct Viewpoint.")

This really has nothing to do with liberal vs. conservative, by the way. I'm a liberal -- as defined in 1978. In those days, liberals regarded free speech as an essential attribute of a democracy.

The Leftaliban, on the other hand, though it calls itself "liberal," prefers speech codes to silence dissent, and allows students at universities to shout down or at least disinvite speakers who don't agree with the Leftaliban's positions on any issue.

The Leftaliban thinks Fox News is evil (instead of, as has been proven over and over again, the most impartial of all news broadcasters). The Leftaliban thinks Obama is God. Er, pardon me, god, since they have little patience with those who believe in God, unless it's a non-Judeo-Christian one.

Now, most teachers on the local level are not part of the Leftaliban. Most of them just want to teach their subject matter to kids they care about. Most teachers want their kids to learn to think for themselves and have no agenda to try to wean them away from the beliefs of their parents.

But those teachers don't run the education establishment. And in fact the education establishment is deeply frustrated by that student-centered, give-them-tools-and-let-them-teach-themselves attitude of most teachers.

That's why they want to change the legally-required curriculum. Forbid the teachers to convey to children those anti-Leftaliban ideas from American history before 1877!

Make the history teachers spend a whole unit of world history on "the environment," which will turn the Green movement, in all its dishonesty and totalitarian philosophy, into heroes of the story!

The real issue for you and me, of course, is not this proposed curriculum change. That's because this curriculum change is going to get buried so deep it will sleep with magma.

Because I know every North Carolinian who reads this column will be writing to their state senators and representatives to demand that they stop this nonsense right now.

But after this curriculum change goes away, the people who thought it was a good idea will still be running our education establishment.

The real issue is: How can we restore civilian, majority control over education in the state of North Carolina?

How can we change the state colleges so they start hiring without ideological bias (i.e., actually granting degrees and tenures to those with openly conservative views)?

How can we reform the Department of Public Instruction so that ideologically-biased power grabs are no longer possible or desirable to those who are being paid by the taxpayers of a state that is politically moderate and not at all interested in having their children brainwashed by the Extreme Left?

One of our serious problems in reining in the excesses of these groups is that the universities always wrap themselves in the banner of "academic freedom" -- even as they deny even a shred of academic freedom to anyone who does not agree with them -- and the educational administrators always claim to be "experts" who don't really need to listen to "unqualified" lay people.

I speak to you now as the son of a professor of education. I grew up on my father's skeptical view of the endless waves of unproved educational theory that keep washing over the colleges and public schools, deforming the education of children without the slightest attempt at actual science behind them.

There are no education experts. If there were, our schools would work, because it is absolutely the programs and choices of the "experts" who got us where we are today.

So a complete takeover of education by the people's freely elected representatives would be an improvement in our educational system precisely to the degree that educational "experts" were omitted.

What we need in charge of our educational system are skeptics -- people who don't subscribe to any theory to the point where they will refuse to hear opposing evidence.

And anyone who acquiesced in this curriculum change -- this naked attempt to turn our public schools into a system of churning out good, obedient Politically Correct children -- need to find another line of work, or pursue their careers in a state that wants indoctrination instead of education in the schools.

P.S. Just so you know, my list of good guys in recent history includes most of those on the Leftaliban's good-guy list, and my list of bad guys includes most of those on the Leftaliban's bad-guy list. I just don't think we benefit from worshiping the one and demonizing the other.

Nor do we benefit from "educating" our children in a one-party school system. Freedom cannot survive in a society that allows only people of one ideological stripe to determine what and how our children will be taught.

So a conservative takeover of the schools and universities would find me attacking them as vigorously as I am now fighting Leftist control of education. There is no room in a republic for a monopoly of thought.

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