The Witch in the Closet

How leftist educators and the media are scaring - and scarring - our children.

I was afraid of witches as a child. Indeed, I was convinced that there was an old crone hanging out in my bedroom closet just waiting to pounce. Not sure where or how it began, but it ended when I decided to take every bit of clothing and assorted junk out of my closet to convince myself that there was no witch stirring her cauldron there. Tragically, kids today have so much more than one imaginary hag scaring the living daylights out of them. In fact, there are enough witches these days to make a sizable coven.

Robert Pondiscio, senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, gets to the meat of the matter in “The Unbearable Bleakness of American Schooling.” He writes that “this pedagogy of the depressed—America the Problematic—is thought to be a virtue among professional educators who view it as a mark of seriousness and sophistication.” He goes on to point out that “contemporary education fetishizes the bad and the broken in American life.” Clearly this has become all the rage. At the heart of the problem is that it really isn’t education, it’s indoctrination. The doomsters see only problems to be solved. Teaching about the existing good – and even celebrating it – is nowhere to be found in the indoctrinator’s playbook.

A major source of fear in children is climate change, which used to be known as global warming, and before that, global cooling. According to a British poll, one in five children have nightmares about climate change. Another survey reveals that 59% of people aged 16-25 are very or extremely worried and 84% are at least moderately worried about atmospheric change. “More than 45% of respondents said their feelings about climate change negatively affected their daily life and functioning, and many reported a high number of negative thoughts about climate change.” A full 75% said that they think “the future is frightening.” The reality is, yes, the climate is changing, but then again, it always has. And, while it is possible that we may need to do some very  minor adjusting, the academic alarmists and their hysterical media toadies are doing damage far greater than anything climate change will ever do.

The “America is racist” mantra has been exploited maximally by all the usual suspects. School children are placed in groups, labeled oppressors and victims, and taught that America’s system is rigged against persons of color. For example, an elementary school in Cupertino, California – a Silicon Valley community with a median home price of $2.3 million – recently forced a class of third-graders to “deconstruct their racial identities, then rank themselves according to their ‘power and privilege.’” This type of scaremongering has worked, according to the “Coming Together: Family Reflections on Racism” study conducted by Sesame Workshop, which reports that 86% of children believe that people of different races are not treated fairly in this country.

Additionally, we have just suffered through the “Black Lives Matter at School Week of Action,” where untold numbers of kids across the country were exposed to 13 radical “demands” including “Trans affirming,” which stipulates, ”We are committed to embracing and making space for trans siblings to participate and lead. We are committed to being self-reflexive and doing the work required to dismantle cis-gender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.”

Clearly the transgender fad has hit big time for all races, no more so than in California where AB 1184, cosponsored by Planned Parenthood, became law in 2021. As the California Family Council explains, this diktat “prohibits insurance companies from revealing to the policyholder the ‘sensitive services’ of anyone on their policy, including minor children, even though the policy owner is financially responsible for the services.” The term “sensitive services” refers to all health care services related to mental or behavioral health, sexual and reproductive health, sexually transmitted infections, substance use disorder, gender affirming care, etc. The bill doesn’t detail the kindly sounding “gender affirming care,” but as defined by the University of California, San Francisco, it’s hormone therapy and a laundry list of surgeries including vaginectomy, scrotoplasty, voice modification, etc., ad nauseam.

Back in the real world, Brown University physician and researcher Lisa Littman released a study in 2018, the result of which suggests that “rapid-onset gender dysphoria” in young people may be driven in part by “social and peer contagion.” She asserts that nearly 70 percent of the teenagers were involved with a peer group in which at least one friend had identified as transgender. In some groups, the majority had done so. Nearly 65 percent of teens had spent an increased amount of time online and on social media, and “parents reported that pro-transgender YouTube videos and blogs might have been influential.” Needless to say, Dr. Littman has been painted as a bigot by the true believers in education and the media.

The latest witch, of course, is Covid, the response to which has been much more damaging to children than the disease itself. “I’m a Public School Teacher. The Kids Aren’t Alright,” writes teacher Stacey Lance, who reports that young people are experiencing deep shame having been taught to think of their schools as “hubs for infection and themselves as vectors of disease. This has fundamentally altered their understanding of themselves.” Lance talks about one of her brightest 12th graders who said she was terrified of taking her mask off. She told Lance that “she didn’t want to get anyone sick or kill anybody. She was worried she would be held responsible for someone dying.” In reality, kids do not have a significant risk from Covid, nor are they “super spreaders.” But many schools, not to mention the media, relentlessly bang on this myth.

Radical and warped notions of climate change, racism, gender issues and Covid are just a sampling of what children are abused with today. To put an end to this, parents must rise up, take control, and homeschool their kids, if possible. If a child goes to a school outside the home, parents must be allowed to know just what is being taught. Also, their time on social media must be limited. On various platforms, they are relentlessly bombarded with buzz-terms-du-jour like “America was founded on racism,” “Men can get pregnant,” “This is a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” “Climate change is an existential threat,” etc. These terms stick to a child’s psyche like high-performance epoxy.

No longer do we need to worry about some weirdo in a raincoat doing perverse things to kids in a park. Our institutions are now doing that work daily and in plain sight. Dealing with the witch in my closet was child’s play compared to what’s going on these days.

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Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network – a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers and the general public with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues. The views presented here are strictly his own.


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