My friend and colleague Larry Sand, president of the California Teachers Empowerment Network and the man to read on the current state of (mis)education in America, wrote recently at FrontPage Mag about the dismal but unsurprising results released this month of the 2022 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, the NAEP is a test that measures the knowledge of American students in various areas. The most recent results reveal that a pitiful 13 percent of eighth-graders met proficiency standards for U.S. history – “proficiency” meaning they could “explain major themes, periods, events, people, ideas and turning points in the country’s history.” Only about 20 percent of students scored at or above the proficient level in civics. Both scores are all-time lows for these two tests.
Yes, schoolkids are still reeling from the impact of the manufactured COVID pandemic, but Peggy Carr, commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics (the organization behind the NAE) told reporters that the problems predate the pandemic. “It’s a decline that started in 2014, long before we even thought about COVID.” As Sand notes, “the Wall Street Journal observes that this is the fifth consecutive year that ACT scores have declined, and the first time that the average score has dropped below 20 since 1991. English scores fell to 19 out of 36, down from 19.6 last year.”
Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona, a Biden appointee who has denounced the U.S. as a racist nation and who supports the Marxist-based tenets of Critical Race Theory and gender ideology, also blamed the pandemic but went on to accuse his political opponents falsely of “banning history books” and “censoring educators.” He’s referring to conservative efforts to push back against the kind of widespread ideological indoctrination Cardona wants in education – the kind that closes young minds, not opens them.
Larry Sand writes, “When teachers spend time forcing race- and gender-infused woke gibberish down the throats of American children, less time is available for more traditional subject matter.” He goes on to cite “a few of the myriad instances of students being hammered with the ravings of the woke”:
In Buffalo, New York, students were told that “all white people” perpetuate systemic racism, and kindergarteners were forced to watch a video of dead black children, warning them about “racist police and state-sanctioned violence” that might kill them at any time.
The San Diego Unified School District orders students to “confront and examine your white privilege” and to “acknowledge when you feel white fragility.” Additionally, children are told to “understand the impact of white supremacy in your work.”
In a training session for teachers in Seattle, schools were deemed guilty of “spirit murder” against black students.
In Springfield, Missouri, teachers are trained that people are given a “biological sex assigned at birth,” which often conflicts with their “gender identity” and “gender expression.”
In Illinois, the Evanston–Skokie school district has adopted a curriculum that teaches pre-K through third-grade students to “break the binary” of gender.
Sand rightly concludes, “So instead of learning factual American history—the good and the bad—students are now at the mercy of far-left advocates pushing a radical racial and sexual agenda. Unless the education establishment reverses course in a hurry, parents, already responsible for feeding, clothing, and housing their children, will need to educate them as well.”
I am in favor of reordering society so that parents are more responsible and involved in their children’s education, and part of that reordering involves completely abandoning public education, which is a terminally ill case. As I’ve written and spoken about on many occasions, the radical Left in our country long ago gave up marching in the streets for the “Long March through the institutions”; they realized that the system is more effectively and easily subverted from within than destroyed from without. The result is the complete takeover of the field of education by cultural Marxists whose fervent mission is the dismantling of Western civilization. The NAEP test results are the rotting fruit of the seeds sowed by those insurgents.
But our schools are only one, albeit a major, facet of the problem of American education. Other facets are cultural and technological – for example, there is the damage done by the soul-sucking abyss of cell phones and other tech toys that corrode our brains with the shallowest-imaginable distractions and trivia, like TikTok dances, gaming, and of course, the bondage — if you’ll pardon the pun — of porn. And our youth are deeply immersed in a pop culture that is driven by the now, the new, and the what’s next. All these things and more collude to push the past into a gaping black hole of forgetting.
My wife and I homeschool our own young children but I also teach teenagers from other families in our small homeschooling community. Just this month, for example, I concluded a course on the history of Christianity from the early church through the Reformation. The previous year I taught a Great Books class that was essentially a survey course on heroic epics from Gilgamesh – literally the earliest piece of literature in existence – through Homer and Beowulf and Arthurian romance to Don Quixote and C.S. Lewis.
My own personal teaching experience confirms the findings of the NAEP: that young people – even homeschooled kids, who tend to be better educated and less in thrall to the brain cell-killing distractions and seductions of pop culture – are disturbingly ignorant of world history, American history, even very recent history and current events. This is a generalization, of course – some kids are more knowledgeable than others, but the generalization still holds. It is disheartening and alarming that teenagers today (again, I’m generalizing) don’t have enough of a big-picture grasp of history’s timeline to know that Julius Caesar came before King Henry VIII, or who Charlemagne was, or that Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo were real-life Renaissance geniuses and not just Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
In a separate article about the NAEP results, Patrick Garry at The Imaginative Conservative notes correctly that the decline of history test scores “constitute a deliberate design” on the part of the Left, because the “erosion of historical knowledge is a necessary prerequisite to the construction of the new society evidently desired by” what he calls “modern liberalism” (I would argue that “liberalism” is a monstrous misnomer; today’s “liberals” are anything but liberal. They are totalitarian, while today’s conservatives are the true classical liberals.) Garry goes on to say that “an erosion of history is the first necessary step to the left’s transformation of the foundations of culture and society—a transformation that sees an ahistorical all-powerful government replacing all other traditional civic institutions.”
As I tell my students, if you don’t know the history of the civilization in which you have been blessed to be born and raised; if you aren’t familiar with the great figures of the past whose transformative charisma and courage helped steer us out of barbarism; if you don’t appreciate the grand sweep of our struggle for the freedoms and prosperity of which you are the heirs; then you will be easy prey for the lies and manipulations of totalitarians and their lust for power. You will find yourself under the boot heel of a State power that has rewritten or erased the past in order to prop itself up, and you and your friends and family won’t possess the cultural identity or legacy that would empower you to resist.
Ignorance isn’t bliss. It’s slavery.