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The Boogeyman in Public Education

Last week I wrote about free speech in public education and how one community in Wyoming (Cody) is up in arms, neighbor fighting neighbor, over the eminent purchase of a K-8 reading curriculum.

What in the world could get folks so worked up that they would start calling one another racists and bigots? What is in this curriculum?

Well let me give you an example from the Grades 6-8 “Connections” curriculum.

One of the pieces is a short story by Naomi Shihab Nye, a modern poet, songwriter and novelist. Her piece is entitled “Allied with Green” and is a description of the “green” lifestyle seen through the lens of a girl named Lucy.

The piece uses religious words to describe environmentalism and has a rather heavy-handed, albeit indirect, political agenda. For example: “Lucy’s family could only water with a sprinkler on Wednesday evenings between eight and ten. When she and her mom washed lettuce, blueberries, peaches, they carry the plastic tubs of fruit water outside to pour onto a plant. It’s ritual now. It’s holy water. The city had a water waste hotline. It made the national news. You could turn people in for excessive watering.”

And this conclusion; “But you have to care for it, stroke it, devote yourself to it, pray to it, organize crews for it, bow down to it. You have to say the simply holy prayer, rearranging the words any way you liked best…. “Dig, Grow, Deep, Roots, Light, Air, Water, Tend.”

Beyond the creepy religious invocations, political comments about population control and snitching on your neighbor for “excessive watering” — let’s not miss the Joni Mitchell references, try to keep your eyes from rolling on that one – this is an illustration of how not to write.

It’s a joyless piece that misses nature’s beauty and instead engages in sappy political claptrap (a theme amongst many of these “informational texts”/short stories]. Far better choices would be bona fide celebrations of the natural world from such excellent authors as Frost, Dickinson, Keats, and Thoreau.

Why would anyone consider a reading curriculum using stories that fail to foster a curiosity and love of reading? What are these dry-eyed lectures on political correctness and multiculturalism teaching if it is not indoctrination into the progressive agenda by a minority who seek to monopolize the curriculum?

If this is to take over public education, then the real boogeyman is the monopoly of the public education system to the detriment of every other form of education in our communities. The way out is to opt out of the public school system through home schooling, private schooling, distance education, and — perhaps — vouchers and charter schools for parents who want their children to be educated in the traditions of Western Civilization and American history and knowledge. People in Cody cannot solve their differences when everyone is stuck in the same school, fighting over what children should learn.

These children being fought over are not “our” children as progressives and presumptuous government servants would propose. Rather the children are under the authority of their natural parents, first and foremost. They don’t belong to the community of Cody or to Park County School District. But as long as public education bureaucrats and state policymakers see every child in Wyoming as a possessions of the state, these fights will continue.

Children are not publicly owned [and monetized] commodities to be raised by the village. They are the offspring of their parents, to be raised by them. The fight over curriculum is a power struggle for control of children’s minds and hearts and thereby for political control of the future. In other countries parents have lost their natural rights and authority to the detriment of the family and demographics. We must not let this happen in America or in Wyoming.

One obvious way to solve these disagreements is to do away with the education monopoly found in our monolithic government school system and let school choice flourish throughout Wyoming.

Until then, the stakes will continue to get higher and higher. And angry neighbor will confront angry neighbor. Of that we can be sure.

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Monday, 23 October 2017
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