It's back-to-school season across the country. But in an increasing number of districts, "back to school" doesn't mean back to learning. Under the reign of social justice indoctrinators, academics are secondary to political agitation. Activism trumps achievement.
In Massachusetts, the John J. Duggan Middle School will open on August 25 with a new name and mission. It is now a "social justice magnet school." As a hiring advertisement for teachers explained earlier this year, the emphasis will be on "helping students develop the necessary skills to analyze and synthesize information and to generate empathy by looking at multiple sides of important issues facing the world, be that hunger, water quality, racial barriers, child labor or imbalance of power."
Concise writing, as you can see, is not on the social justice pedagogues' agenda.
Oh, and forget about memorizing times tables or mastering the scientific method. The new principal says the school's primary job is teaching "fairness." Duggan Middle School's junior lobbying factory is "serious about creating 21st century global citizens, and it begins with understanding who we are as members of each of those communities."
The ultimate goal of these social justice prep schools: creating left-wing political advocates.
At the Crescent Heights Social Justice Magnet School in Los Angeles, children will work on "action projects" tied to the "United Nations Millennium Development Goals." Students will spend the academic year transforming into "agents of change." Yes, they will learn language arts. But basic reading and writing are only a focus of the magnet school, the founders explain, because "we want our students to recognize injustice in their world or the world at large and be able to fully express their outrage, their plan of attack, their progress in this endeavor."
In Chicago, Ground Zero for social justice brainwashing, the Social Justice High School (SOJO), follows a similar mission. Activist teachers openly foster identity politics and systematically undermine individualism. Their specialties: "struggle and sacrifice." SOJO's mission statement sounds like a pot-addled Oberlin College freshman's — er, freshperson's — Sociology 101 term paper:
"Through collective community power, we commit to a conscious effort to overcome the intended historical obstacles that have been designed to disempower and divide our communities."
At the Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School, also in Massachusetts, students won't learn math. They'll be taught "social justice math." (Freire was a Brazilian leftist who wrote a social justice teacher's Bible called "Pedagogy of the Oppressed.")
His acolytes explain the push for radicalization of math: "Math is an instrument for detailing social justice issues and developing critical consciousness." In the hands of progressive teachers, math "becomes an analytic tool to bring awareness to important world issues."
In other words: One plus one equals "That's unfair!"
New York City schools have been infested for years with city-funded math teachers who "train students in seeing social problems from a radical anticapitalist perspective," as City Journal's Sol Stern reported. As I've noted previously, the "Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers" guide rejects traditional white male patriarchal methods of teaching computation and statistics in favor of politically correct number-crunching.
Out: Algebraic equations, geometric proofs and advanced calculus.
In: "Racial profiling, unemployment rate calculation, the war in Iraq, environmental racism, globalization, wealth distribution and poverty, wheelchair ramps, urban density, HIV/AIDS, deconstructing Barbie, junk food advertising to children, and lotteries."
State education codes mandate value neutrality in the classroom. But in schools of "social justice," every academic subject is a means to a "progressive" (anti-American, pro-collectivist, redistributive) ideological end. The radical transformation of K-12 classrooms into leftist agitation labs is embedded in the mission of countless teachers colleges and universities, which require social justice training or offer special certification in its indoctrination techniques.
These teaching institutions are pumping out generations of educators who cast themselves as leaders against "social struggle" — instead of facilitators of intellectual inquiry. Passing the most rigorous student standards in the world won't amount to squat as long as the overseers of public education exploit government schools as community organizing vehicles for captive tots, tweens and teens.