- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 13, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Second of two excerpts from the book “Power to the People.”

It has been said many times that learning is power. Shaping the minds of future generations is one of the most important responsibilities that parents and teachers have. Unfortunately we have been bullied into relinquishing our children to bloated bureaucracies, second-rate Marxist intellectuals, and legions of “education experts.” The old emphasis on excellence and merit has been swallowed up by ideologically biased curricula and politically correct teaching methods that are shortchanging our students — and our country.

These days, feel-good fads based on boosting “self-esteem,” and the notion that there are “no wrong answers,” crowd out sound, traditional ways of teaching kids. “Whole Language,” a 1960s and 1970s fad that eschewed teaching rules of grammar and phonics, has been widely discredited as a way of teaching reading and writing, but it still lingers. In 1985, the National Council of Teachers of English condemned grammar drills in the classroom, calling them, “a deterrent to the improvement of students’ speaking and writing.” Twenty years later, we have an adult populace that, through little fault of its own, has no idea where to put a comma or when to use whom instead of who. Diagramming sentences is even more verboten in some classrooms. One Atlanta resident wrote in to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that “As a new substitute teacher, I just received a letter from Fulton County schools warning me not to correct ‘grammer.’ ”

For many years now, the quality and objectivity of our school textbooks, tests, and teaching materials have been gutted by special interest groups demanding changes and wimpy state legislators who bow to the pressure. The publishers end up altering the textbooks to accommodate the various left-wing (and some right-wing) grievances so that they don’t lose fat state contracts. The real losers in this, of course, are our children. History and literature are distorted through content manipulation. Language is altered in ways that are just plain goofy. Words such as snowman are banished from reading materials in favor of the non-offensive snowperson. Heaven forbid the word devil appear anywhere in a textbook. Depictions of women as traditional housewives are no-no’s. And don’t even think about using a drawing of an American Indian in traditional warrior garb.

Not content to advance the political correctness racket, public schools now have turned into sex education machines. And we’re not just talking about the basics of the birds and the bees. In this brave new education world, the birds and the bees are mating with each other! What is being offered is avant-garde sex ed. It involves teaching children about abortion, “transgenders,” and cross-dressing.

In Alexandria, Virginia, where a sex-ed class has been mandatory since the early 1980s, the school board recently decided to spice stuff up with some edgier material. The course includes the history of abortion, stressing how abortion was legal at the founding of the country. Some of the abortion material was lifted from Planned Parenthood literature. How’s that for an unbiased educational source!

In liberal Montgomery County, Maryland, similar antics are occurring. Late in the 2006-2007 school year, the county school board pushed through a pilot program for a sex-ed curriculum in which students, including eighth graders, were taught to “develop” their own sexuality as well as their own “gender identity,” defined as “a person’s internal sense of knowing whether he or she is male or female.”

If things are bad at elementary, middle, and high schools, they are simply awful in many of our colleges. You think you know the sad state of affairs in American academia? It’s worse than you think.

Every academic year, Young America’s Foundation ranks the twelve most bizarre classes offered on campuses across America. Some of the weirdest: “The Phallus,” “Queer Musicology,” “Adultery Novel,” “Sex Change City: Theorizing History in Genderqueer San Francisco,” “Drag: Theories of Transgenderism and Performance” (I promise, no more sex changes or cross-dressing this chapter), and “Lesbian Pulp Fiction.” All of these were just from academic year 2006-07.

The anti-conservative, illiberal thinking that pervades our university life today results in a loss of credibility of American academia, especially our top colleges. This has dire consequences for our culture and our future.

Education may be the key battlefield in our war to bring power back to the people. It is both crucial and utterly winnable. On top of that, the education battle is where regular people — moms, dads, taxpayers, voters, and students — have the most direct influence.

We need to fight for quality education on every level-at the individual school, at the school district, at the county, state, and federal level.

Public schools, private schools, and even our universities need our help — whether they know it or not! They can be salvaged. They want to be salvaged. For only an educated populace is a free populace.

Laura Ingraham is the author of the book “Power to the People” and is the host of the radio program “The Laura Ingraham Show.”

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