Jewish World Review June 30, 2011 / 28 Sivan, 5771

Progressivism Masquerading as Education

By Arnold Ahlert | A couple of weeks ago the results of a nationwide history test given at various grade levels were released by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). To virtually no one's surprise, only 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated "proficiency" on the exam. Most Americans, if we're being honest, are equally incompetent, if not more so, regarding basic economics. Throw in a lack of proficiency regarding the Constitution, and you get a trifecta of ignorance that ought to embarrass any First World nation. Yet if the Maryland public school system is any indication, we're beyond embarrassment: "environmental literacy" will now be required in order to graduate high school.

Understand, no reasonable person has a problem with teaching children to be responsible stewards of the planet. But anyone who has watched the steady evolution of public schools from places of education into propaganda centers for the progressive worldview knows exactly what is going on here. The State Board of Education hides the truth by saying there are no specifics regarding what is to be taught, but Maryland Governor, Democrat Martin O'Malley, lets the cat out of the progressive bag when he notes the law with serve as "a foundation for green jobs."

You know which country had a romance with green jobs? Spain. Know what they discovered? For every green job created, 2.1 non-green jobs were lost. Spain's unemployment rate is currently 22 percent. And then there's Great Britain. Three weeks ago, one of their largest utility companies, Scottish Electric, announced that the gas and electricity bills of five million customers would go up by a whopping 19 and 10 percent respectively, beginning August first. Six other major power providers expected to follow suit.

Why is it happening? Part of the reason is higher wholesale costs for power, but the other reason is depressingly familiar. Raymond Jack, Scottish Power's chief executive: "The rising burden of non-energy costs faced by Britain's energy suppliers — including the cost of meeting government environmental and social programs and the cost of distributing electricity on the national grid — has also placed further upward pressure on energy bills." The result? In Britain, the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) points out that many of the country's poor will be faced with a choice between "heating and eating" next winter.


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Does anyone remember how many public schools made blowhard Al Gore's movie, "An Inconvenient Truth" required watching? That would be the same movie in which a British court found eleven inaccuracies, even as it called the film "political propaganda." Did that stop the schools from pushing this crap of a movie on impressionable kids? Of course not. Now America is chock full of young kids who are completely convinced the "planet has a fever," even as they fail to notice the head fever-monger has a "carbon footprint" that would make Godzilla's imprint look ballerina-like by comparison.

Once again I will say what I have said countless times before, and I will keep saying it, until enough Americans understand it. The battle for the nation's soul is not going in in state houses across the country, nor is it occurring in Washington, D.C. or Hollywood. It is occurring in the thousands of public schools around the nation, where the bankrupt ideology of progressivism is being foisting on impressionable children, masquerading itself as education.

It is not education. It is indoctrination. It is an indoctrination so thorough that the same high school students who can already quote chapter and verse on environmentalism, don't know the century in which the Civil War was fought, and can't add or subtract without a calculator. It is an indoctrination so thorough that the concept of failure has been replaced by social promotion, grade inflation and self-esteem massage. It is an indoctrination so thorough that kids can get free condoms and directions to the nearest abortion clinic from the same school nurse who isn't allowed to offer moral guidance about either choice. It is one so thorough that 31 percent of Americans polled by the Gallup Organization think there are "too many rich people" in America.

Too many rich people? The social mobility that forms the essence and beauty of America, the idea that anyone, regardless of background or circumstance, can elevate himself to wealth — is a problem? Make no mistake: when people are educated, the most critical aspect of which is the ability to think for oneself, Nanny State, wealth-redistributing progressivism is in serious trouble. Making environmental literacy a requirement for receiving a diploma is all about expanding the progressive agenda by stealth. The dead giveaway here is that what constitutes environmental literacy remains wholly undefined, even as it becomes an requirement. That is exactly backwards. An honest State Board of Education would define the parameters of such a program before making it part of the state's core curriculum. The parameters would then be subject to scrutiny and debate.

Instead, the state is leaving it up to local school boards to "implement the requirement as they see fit," according to a state official. That's progressive code-speak for "we're going to get away with whatever we can get away with, wherever we can get away with it." Thus, if 40 school districts teach global warming is "settled science" and parents in one school district rebel, 39 others are still pushing the agenda.

This country is in serious trouble. We are producing legions of semi-educated kids with marginal abilities in math, reading, history and Constitutionalism. We're being forced to import engineers and scientists because we don't graduate enough people with those abilities domestically. American students are getting clobbered on international tests, scoring below some students from Third World countries. Three-out-of-four high schools graduates from some states require remedial courses in reading and math before they can do college level work.

Environmental literacy? How about literacy, period?

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