LOST ART OF CRITICAL THINKING
September 26, 2010
Part 2, Back to School for Kids; Back to the Drawing Board for Educrats
With September upon us, it’s time to load back packs and bid adieu to the kids, off to school for another year. Parents hold high hopes for success, and students can’t wait to see their friends again.
In this spirit of expectation, the forward-looking National Education Association congregated this summer in New Orleans. Intent upon “turning hope into action,” this 2010 convention resulted in an impressive list of resolutions that demonstrate educators’ commitment to regroup, review, and reform.
In providing “free, equitable, universal, and quality public education for every student” the NEA advances accredited educational opportunities for all from birth (that’s right, birth) to age eight and beyond (i.e., cradle to grave). This includes funding pre-kindergarten for all three- and four-year-olds, as well as mandatory full-day—every day kindergarten programs requiring compulsory attendance. No one’s excluded from the NEA agenda.
So just what is the NEA agenda? Development of individual initiative? Emphasis on correcting the U.S.’s below-average ranking among developed nations in reading, science, and mathematics? Making up for “credential inflation” responsible for admitting unqualified students into our nation’s colleges?
No, none made the resolution list. Outspoken proponents of “freedom of choice,” NEA educrats nonetheless oppose federally or state-mandated parental option (or choice) plans that, from their perspective, “compromise” an agenda that best serves their own purposes.
While employing emotive rhetoric advancing psycho-politics of change, educrats throw critical thinking to the wind and instead sashay around politically correct incongruities. The message is clear. Human resource training trumps academic basics. Not reading, writing, and arithmetic, nor clear thinking, but one-size-fits-all, affective domain instruction makes the final cut.
Subject-centered, teacher-directed accumulation of knowledge gives way to fluff that eludes observable, repeatable, and measurable instructional objectives, all necessary components of mastery learning. Examples include understanding and accepting diverse populations, maintaining gender neutrality and non-stereotypical language, developing self-esteem, and conforming to group think.
Contradictory Resolutions: The New Diversity
It’s no wonder that resolutions proposed in New Orleans present a curious study in contradictions. For instance, while one resolution purportedly eliminates discrimination and stereotyping based on race, yet another (to the contrary) advances the right to “take race into account” when making decisions as to student admissions, assignments, and/or transfers.
Not reason nor fair dealing, but relativity and situation dictate actions. To achieve or maintain desired diversity, educrats opportunistically ignore their own principles—this, for self-interest. Case in point: Until protesters got it removed, the NEA website calendar displayed an unlikely posting featuring a supposed icon of diversity—namely, Mao Zedong.
Best known as the “champion murderer of all time,” Chairman Mao lived by a code of violence by which one class overthrows another. “Tolerant,” he wasn’t. Yet while demanding “human rights” on one hand, the Association recognizes Mao Zedong as a sort of “role model” on the other.
Contradictory Resolutions: The New Discrimination
Along with Chairman Mao, NEA’s “anti-biased, culturally sensitive” agenda embraces the GLBT crowd in that it enforces non-discrimination for gays, lesbians, bisexual, and transgenders. In fact, recognizing her work to prevent HIV infection, Harvard-educated actress Ashley Judd was presented an NEA award at the convention—this, from the GLBT caucus.
Herein lies the problem: The resolution to “coordinate with organizations and concerned agencies that promote the contributions, heritage, culture, history, and special health and care needs of diverse population groups” stops short when it comes to partisan politics.
Be sure the Association urges its members to be politically active (no problem here)—but only in support of political action committees of the Association and its affiliates. Moreover, conservative and independent teachers are forced to pay annual dues to the Association, 95% of whose political contributions go to Democratic candidates and decidedly liberal issues to which they object morally and/or ethically.
Generally speaking, educrats dismiss as passé any moral and/or ethical absolutes—unless, that is, they support NEA purposes. In matters relating to birth control, diversity of sexual orientation, and gender identification, for example, there’s no sanctioned celebration of diversity as defined by traditionalism.
In advancing progressive absolutes exclusively, NEA “tolerance” goes just so far. NEA educrats insist that it’s “our way or the highway.” No discussion. Period. New paragraph.
Contradictory Resolutions: The New Freedom of Choice
As previously intimated, NEA educrats reserve for themselves “freedom of choice,” but fail to extend the same privilege to independently thinking colleagues and parents. You see, in some 28 states, a free-thinking teacher risks losing his job should he object to union policies and refuse to join.
Even tax-paying parents who themselves fund free public education are thwarted from selecting education programs—e.g., tuition tax credits, vouchers—that best suit their children’s needs; and home-schooled children may not enjoy the same extracurricular activities to which even illegal aliens have free access. 
In the arena of progressivism, “free to choose” means “free to make the right choice as determined by NEA absolutists.”
Contradictory Resolutions: The New Censorship
The Association ostensibly abhors censorship, book banning, and/or burning, but summarily eliminates the Bible—this, despite its value as a unique work of classical antiquity. In fact, no classical works of Christian or Jewish thought, science, or history qualify; nevertheless, educrats zealously protect access in school media facilities to controversial materials of all sorts—pornography, for one.
According to the Association, political correctness separates the right- from the wrong- kind of censorship. Case in point: Across curricula—all subjects; all levels—the NEA insists upon integrating what educrats judge to be accurate portrayals of the roles and contributions of all groups throughout history. Yet it refuses the example of our nation’s founders who themselves drew from the ancient history of Israel, coupled with experiences of the New Testament church.
While purporting to eliminate subtle practices that favor the education of one student over another—this, on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, gender identification, disability, ethnicity, or religion—the NEA excludes the very groups whose tried-and-true, transcendent ideals of law and liberty define who we are as a culture and a nation.
It stands to reason why one group is more likely than another to find its way into the thread of world history. Yet without considering the magnitude (or lack thereof) of their contributions, the Association deplores historical underrepresentation of particular groups.
Contradictory Resolutions: The New Separation of Church and State
The NEA’s commitment to “make up” for underrepresentation frequently violates their resolution to integrate “accurate portrayals” of groups. Disturbingly, in some school districts, the “Prophet” Mohammed is distinguished as “the most influential man in history." This generalization begs the question, “Really?”
Think about it. From a pool of 1.4 billion Muslims (2 out of every 10 people), only six have won the Nobel Peace prize; and one of those six is a known terrorist (Yasser Arafat)! In comparison, from a pool of only 12 million Jews (2 out of every 1,000 people), fully 165 have distinguished themselves with this coveted prize. Even so, only progeny of the former, not the latter, have voice in today’s public schools.
By way of example, Attorney Edward White with the Thomas More Law Center represented parents in a complaint against a California School district for its iffy assertion that “dressing and acting as Muslims increases student learning and enjoyment." The New Separation principle censors reciting the Lord’s Prayer and Beatitudes, but not Islamic phrases used in prayers. Christmas is off limits, but not "Caravan- or Oasis- Days" and Ramadan.
Mind you, parents do not object to students learning about Islam, but they do find fault (and rightfully so) with students assuming Muslim names while facing Mecca in role playing exercises!
Contradictory Resolutions: The New Law
Be they natives, Asians, Pacific Islanders, Blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender persons, or people with disabilities, legal American citizens should not be denied what their taxes provide. “Legal” is the operative word here.
But while recognizing an International Court of Justice and Criminal Court, purportedly to enforce law, another of the NEA’s resolutions encourages lawlessness. How so? By extending privileges of access for undocumented students—that is, illegal aliens.
Respect for rule of law is at the core of America’s triumph as a nation, but tax-paying, legal citizens must compete with illegal recipients of financial aid and in-state tuition to state colleges and universities. “Respect, understanding, acceptance, and sensitivity” (to use resolution words) matter; I agree. However, to thumb one’s nose at the rule of law is not to value or respect it.
Although NEA resolutions purportedly allow teachers the right to encourage free expression of students and to voice personal points of view concerning the policies and programs of the schools, any expression “inimical to the ideals of the Association” are black balled as “extremist.”
Ironically, the Association’s resolution “to examine assumptions and prejudices” is itself acted upon prejudicially. As we’ve seen, black-and-white NEA resolutions favor progressives over conservatives, postmodernists over traditionalists, Muslims over Jews and Christians, the politically correct crowd over the independently minded, the illegal minority over the legal majority.
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To champion politically incorrect views is to be subjected to “conflict resolution” processes whereby “renegades” surrender to school guidance- and counseling- programs designed to bring them around to acceptable collective thought.
This hardly speaks to an “antibiased, culturally sensitive program” purporting to model tolerance. And truth be told, Johnny still can’t read! For part one click below.
Support of Public Education. B-1. Early Childhood Education.
2, Ibid. B-14. Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Discrimination.
3, Ibid. B-13. Racial Diversity Within Student Populations. B-14. Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Discrimination.
4, 4. Michael Carl, Brave New Schools “NEA: Let’s celebrate Communism,” World Net Daily Exclusive (29 July 2010).
5, World class educators in a diverse community
6, Mandatory union dues shouldn't be forced on teachers, Oregonian, 12-3-09.
7, C-15. Extremist Groups. F-1. Nondiscriminatory Personnel Policies/Affirmative Action.
8, Ibid. H-1. The Education Employee as a Citizen.
9, Ibid. A-25. Voucher Plans and Tuition Tax Credits. A-34. Federally or State-Mandated Choice/Parental Option Plans. B-82. Home Schooling.
10, Ibid. B-14. Racism, Sexism, Sexual Orientation and Gender Identification Discrimination. E-3. Selection and Challenges of Materials and Teaching Techniques
11, Jewish and Arab Islam Nobel prize winners.
12, E-10. Academic and Professional Freedom.
13, Ibid. I-33. Freedom of Religion
14, Ibid. B-24. Education of Refugee and Undocumented Children and Children of Undocumented Immigrants. I-2. International Court of Justice. I-3. International Criminal Court. I-22. Immigration.
15, Ibid. C-15. Extremist Groups
16, Ibid. B-71. Conflict Resolution Education. B-48. Family Life Education. C-25. School Guidance and Counseling Programs