Elected officials in Chicago made international news last week by proposing to create a public high school for gay, lesbian and transgender students.
The Pride Campus of the School for Social Justice is set to open with 600 students in 2010, and its curriculum promises to “teach the history of all people who have been oppressed and the civil rights movements that have led to social justice and queer studies.”
Yet no American journalist covering the presidential race has queried the Chicago-based Sen. Barack Obama about this radical development in education reform: a key issue to which the young senator has committed much of his public life and all of his executive experience.
From 1995 to 1999, Mr. Obama oversaw the Annenberg Challenge, a nearly $100 million Chicago-based education-reform group co-founded by unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers.
Nor has any intrepid mainstream-media reporter looked into a greater trend across the United States in segregating public school students by politically correct “victim” class for the explicit purpose of indoctrinating children in “social justice.” This loaded political term has been preached by such Obama allies and mentors as the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the Rev. Michael Pfleger and Mr. Ayers: committed left-wing agitators all, and all off-limits to the working press.
So what exactly is “social justice”? This past Martin Luther King Day, a group of social-welfare students at the University of California at Berkeley got together and took a stab at defining it:
“Social justice is a process, not an outcome, which (1) seeks fair (re)distribution of resources, opportunities and responsibilities; (2) challenges the roots of oppression and injustice; (3) empowers all people to exercise self-determination and realize their full potential; (4) and builds social solidarity and community capacity for collaborative action.”
Fitting the narrative, the Social Justice High School in Chicago was created in an act of political protest. The first words on its main campus’ Web site at the “About Us” tab make it clear that public funds are intended to develop future Moveon.org and ACORN-style activists: “On May 13th, 2001, fourteen community residents of Little Village neighborhood staged a nineteen-day hunger strike demanding the construction of a new high school.”
The protesters back then chanted: “Construyan la escuela ahora!” (“Build the school now!”), and victory was theirs. It was “Si, Se Puede” in action, the Spanish-language Obama chant, and also, not at all coincidentally, the slogan of self-described “social justice” activist Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers Union.
It’s not a conspiracy because conspiracies are actually hidden.
Mr. Obama, who proudly refuses to take money from lobbyists representing parents, has publicly stated the “single most important factor in determining a child’s achievement is not the color of their skin or where they come from; it’s not who their parents are or how much money they have. It’s who their teacher is.”
The Nation magazine uses the words of Rico Gutstein, a founding member of Teachers for Social Justice and a colleague of Mr. Ayers at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Education, to describe the group’s pedagogy.
The magazine gave the example of running “probability simulations using real data to understand the dynamics behind income inequality or racial profiling.” Mr. Gutstein called such exercises “examples of lessons where you can really learn the math basics.” Then he adds, “but the purpose of learning the math actually becomes an entree into, and a deeper understanding of, the political ramifications of the issue.”
For students of history, this teaching theory adds up to many of the reasons why the 20th century was so filled with misery and bloodshed in the pursuit of a utopian political promise. If it weren’t so deeply appalling, it would be funny.
According to their press material, among the gay “heroes” to be weaved into the curriculum at the Pride Campus are expatriate American writer Gertrude Stein, as well as author James Baldwin, who advocated a “Yankee-Doodle type Socialism” and spent many years abroad attacking America.
Yet the Pride Campus refuses to acknowledge my personal gay hero, Paul Lynde, whose historic one-liners were delivered with precision during the heyday of “Hollywood Squares.”
Mr. Lynde’s crime? He was no victim of a dominant heterosexual paradigm - as evidenced by his prime real estate in the center square. And he didn’t need social Marxist educrats to coddle his psyche in order for him to reach the heights of American greatness.
Will the Pledge of Allegiance be scrapped at the Pride Campus for a “pledge of tolerance?” Such is the trend where publicly funded “social justice” curricula are promoted.
The Illinois School Code explicitly states: “No county, city, town, township, school district or other public corporation shall make any appropriation, or pay from any school fund anything in aid of any church or sectarian purpose.”
If the “social justice” coincidentally promoted by Mr. Wright and Father Pfleger, is not sectarian, than what is? If sequestering gay people to protect them from straight bullies is the stated goal, then why will the school be majority-straight? How will the heterosexual bullies have been weeded out? And why is the answer to bullying a return to separate but equal?
Why hasn’t Mr. Obama in his years in Illinois politics stepped in to stop this blatant political sectarianism on the public’s dime? Or is it more likely that the School for Social Justice represents the sort of fruit he sought to produce in his work with Mr. Ayers and others?
In 1990, the Boston Globe described Mr. Obama’s “single-minded concern for social justice.” It seems that the likely president of the United States is supportive of ghettoizing children based on identity politics in order to make them politically active collectivists. In addition, according to Stanley Kurtz at National Review, the tens of millions of dollars doled out by Mr. Obama and Mr. Ayers for education reform “failed to improve student achievement in the 210 Chicago schools where it operated, according to the Annenberg Challenge’s final report.”
Is a return to “separate but equal” and blatant political brainwashing the “hope” and “change” American parents can look forward to starting in the fall semester, 2009? One thing is for certain, under President Obama home schooling will become a huge growth industry.
• Andrew Breitbart is the founder of the news Web site breitbart.com and is co-author of “Hollywood Interrupted: Insanity Chic in Babylon - the Case Against Celebrity.”