- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Most American parents would be outraged if they knew how the education world’s multiculturalists are trying to shape new teachers before they go to work in public schools.

Surveys by the nonpartisan organization Public Agenda have shown that parents still believe in America as an overwhelmingly good country, and they want their children to believe that as well. A Public Agenda report a few years ago summarized parental attitudes this way:

“We found a clear-eyed patriotism among parents of all backgrounds; a deep belief that the United States is a unique nation, while acknowledging its faults. Parents want the schools to face those faults, but not to dwell on them — the parents we surveyed want history taught with fairness to all groups, but recoil from strategies that they feared might encourage divisiveness.”

The multiculturalists, by stark contrast, do not see the United States at all as a good country with common values worth transmitting. They grossly divide Americans into “oppressors” (all whites of European descent) and the “oppressed” (all persons of color from minority cultures).

Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” a 750-page screed that depicts America as a continuing centuries-old conspiracy of rich white men to exploit minorities, is their hornbook. Many use it in their classrooms to demean America’s Founders.

They want to mold future teachers into agents of social transformation who will reject the continuing Anglo/Western influences on the core curriculum and denounce what they contend is a legacy of unrelenting oppression that should cause all white Americans to carry a heavy burden of guilt.

That much becomes clear when the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME) convenes annually (as it did recently in Kansas City), and professors and teachers from all 50 states gather in more than 200 workshops to lay bare their agendas.

Veteran teacher-trainer G. Pritchy Smith of the University of North Florida, who co-conducted a day-long NAME institute on how schools of education should meet diversity standards for accreditation, argues for a “culturally responsible” pedagogy for teacher education that will enable teachers to carry a “social reconstructionist perspective” into the classroom.

His goal: “People who live multicultural lifestyles, live multicultural ways. We need a deep-rooted transformation of values and dispositions — the multicultural teacher.”

This is how the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), a NAME partner, defines diversity: “Differences among groups of people and individuals based on ethnicity, race, socioeconomic status, gender, exceptionalities, language, religion, sexual orientation, and geographical area.”

At a small-group workshop this year, presenters from Central Missouri State University argued that teachers should be trained to rewrite a curriculum they view as oppressively Eurocentric.

In a prepared paper, they declared: “The silent but deadly oppressor of the ethnic minority child’s spirit is a state of injustice that is imbedded in … a one-sided truth espoused through the Eurocentric lens of American education.” They concluded that the “only hope” for change “lies in the embrace of an educational system that can transform and restructure the political imbalance of curriculum practices in the American schools. …

“Teachers must get educational training that empowers them with knowledge about their ethnic minority students so that they can feel committed and confident in unleashing the voices for social justice.”

Their hearts bled in particular for English-language learners, the immigrant children who now constitute one-tenth of the U.S. school population. As did others at this conference, the presenters were bitter at inroads made in federal and state law to jettison so-called bilingual education in favor of English immersion.

At a general session, one California activist wailed that “[immigrant] families are torn apart by children who no longer share their language and culture.” What to do? She said new teachers should be taught to “resist,” to take back the curriculum.

Is that what parents who have come here to the land of opportunity from other lands really want? Public Agenda found that immigrant parents joined other parents in a strong belief that “the schools must teach immigrant children to speak English as quickly as possible, both as a survival skill and as a symbol of their intent to become Americans.”

Clearly the multiculturalists care little about what the people who provide their schools with children and money — the parents and taxpayers — want from public education.

Robert Holland is a senior fellow at the Lexington Institute, an Arlington think tank.

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