Friday, May 19, 2006

Crackpots Against Public Education

Did you know that public school teachers are all part of a conspiracy to turn the United States into a communist nation? Did you know that public education is actually at war with Christianity? So says Dr. Bruce Shortt, a Baptist minister, in his article, "Public Education Against America." Shortt’s solution is to have "Christians" develop an exit strategy to remove all their children out of public schools and into "Christian" and home schools.

Shortt lays out a conspiracy theory that is so complicated that it would put Dan Brown (THE DA VINCI CODE) to shame. John Dewey, the Italian Communist party, the Frankfurt School, and American colleges and universities are all part of the plot. Schools of education are actually "political re-education camps," and concepts such as "respecting differences" and "diversity" are actually part of cultural Marxism. Your everyday, run-of-the-mill public school teachers and administrators are also part of this sinister plot, but we’re just too dumb to know it. I guess I owe Dr. Shortt a real debt of gratitude. I’ve been trying to figure out whether I’m a Democrat or a Republican, and here all the time, I’ve just been a Communist dupe. Silly me!

I always get angry when someone makes what I believe is an unfair criticism of public education, but Shortt’s article takes the cake. The scary thing is that there are a lot of people who listen to crackpots like Shortt. I have never been a fan of homeschooling, and I have to wonder how much of that movement is fueled by crap like this.

Obviously, I’m offended by Shortt because I’m a teacher, but I’m also offended because of my religious faith. I grew up in a lower-middle class Catholic family. My parents wanted me to go to college, but they didn’t want me to pursue a career based on how much money I could make. That’s one of the reasons I ended up becoming a teacher. I’ve never been one to wear my religion on my sleeve, but I’ve always felt like I’m practicing my faith when I do my job well. When someone devises a hair-brained theory in an effort to convince people that I’m actually involved in some sort of anti-American anti-Christian conspiracy, I get a little annoyed.

I am also annoyed because I honestly believe that people like Shortt give a bad name to Christianity. I am no theologian, but I do have at least a rudimentary understanding of the teachings of Jesus—things like love of neighbor and forgiveness. I see those qualities frequently in the teachers and students that I work with, but I have trouble finding them in people like Shortt. It also seems to me that Jesus reserved his harshest criticism for those who viewed themselves as religious, but showed no tolerance for people who they viewed as less religious than themselves. Gee, who does that sound like?


Blogger elementaryhistoryteacher said...

Unfortunately every religion has its crackpots as you say. As a Baptist the pastor you cite annoys me. He does not represent every Baptist or every Christian for that matter. I haven't read his article but would like to. Do you have a link?

I find that most of the parents around here aren't removing their children from public school due to a minister's rantings. I know many who homeschool and those who have opted for private schools (religious and nonreligious). They are doing so to avoid a virus from infecting their home. The virus doesn't have anything to with the teachers. It has something to do with the other students. They are tired of thier children being subjected to the behavior of other people's kids. They are trying to avoid scenarios where their children are subjected to inappropriate language, yelling and screaming at authority figures, constant sexual references, and violence. In my district we are seeing more and more of incorrigible children. When I started teaching I might have had one each I have five or six in each class. There are limits on how many times I can write the student up, how many times the student can serve in inschool suspension, and how many times they can be suspended. In Georgia we have a law that is supposed to help teachers remove students who are constantly disruptive to the learning environment. To my knowledge few, if any, teachers have challenged it. The reason being is that everything points back to the teacher. A committee is formed. The committe scrutinizes the style of the teacher, the lessons, the classroom environment, etc. before even looking at the disruptive child. As one colleague said to me when we discussed using this law, "What's the point. The school system will say it's our fault the child is acting this way. Thanks, but no thanks." Not all Christians are mindless robotons. They are leaving public schools in high numbers, but not based on the ravings of a fanatic. They honestly have the well being and safety of their children as their highest priority. This is turning into a post so I need to ponder this a bit more. Thanks for your post. It served as a leap pad for my thinking this morning!

5/20/2006 6:25 AM  
Blogger graycie said...

You're so right about the perception of pubic ed as a conspiracy of the far far far left. Several years ago my mother (bless her heart) asked me if the 'secular humanists' in my school had tried to brainwash me. Oh my.

I do thinkabthe cause of the upsurge in home schooling. It's certainly the case around here in Virginia's Blue Ridge.

5/20/2006 8:00 AM  
Blogger graycie said...

My previous comment should have ended with my agreeing with elementaryhistoryteacher about causes of home schooling. My fingers must have gotten tangled and garbled it.

5/20/2006 12:11 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

It's hard to deny that there are an excessive number of socialists in public education. How many times do you have to hear the Churchill and Benish stories, repeated over and over across the country, before you accept that? Why does even have to exist?

So this one minister has gone too far. Wouldn't be the first time, on either side of the political spectrum! But at my own school we have teachers who "refuse to allow the pledge to be said in *my* classroom" because it contains the words "under God", and one teacher who wears his Che Guevara shirt to school, as well as other shirts that certainly don't strike me as stereotypically American.

There *is* a problem. It might not be as bad as this minister says it is, but there *is* a problem.

5/21/2006 3:15 PM  
Blogger Dennis Fermoyle said...

Thanks for visiting my site, Darren. As I said in my comment at your site, I'm in the middle of the political spectrum, so I have disagreements with liberals and conservatives, but I love having discussions with them.

I should be careful about making judgements about people I've never known or seen, but I have to conclude that a teacher who wears Che Guevara shirts to school is an idiot. And the teachers who refuse to say the pledge might think that they are upholding a principal, but they are playing right into the hands of the Dr. Bruce Shortt's of the world. I completely understand not wanting to offend people of different beliefs, but we also should try to avoid doing things that fundamentalist Christians take as a slap in the face. We have a number of those kids in my school, and they are usually pretty nice kids. I don't want to lose them! I teach AP American Government, so I know that separation of church and state is not as simple a concept as it sounds. It confuses even the Supreme Court. We definitely don't need every classroom teacher making their own individual interpretations.

We all have the right to our political beliefs, but we have no right to impose those beliefs on our students. It might be okay for college professors to do that because their students are expected to be somewhat well informed. But let's face it, K-12 kids are definitely not well informed.

5/21/2006 4:08 PM  
Blogger Darren said...

The guy who wears the Che shirt knows exactly what he's doing--he teaches Spanish, is a big fan of Cuba, and often tells me "I'm not a Communist, I'm a socialist."

He knows what he's doing.

Oh, and while I consider myself a conservative, every such poll I take places me only slightly right of center. I'm a fiscal conservative and a social moderate, which I think is what a large plurality of Americans are. Of course, we all think we're in the mainstream, don't we?!

5/22/2006 10:46 AM  
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