Did you know, gentle readers, I was once accused of political bias in the classroom? It’s true. It was quite the story for a day or two in the Dallas/Ft. Worth Metroplex. What did I do to be so newsworthy? Did I make kids worship Donald Trump? Praise Barack Obama as a messiah? Write mean texts to Hillary Clinton? I presented, in one 40-minute lesson, the differences between Republican and Democrat policies.
Contemporary teenagers, you see, know virtually nothing about those differences. Most have no idea whether their own philosophies– if they have any philosophies at all–are more Republican or Democrat. I’ve therefore found it necessary to provide that small bit of information prior to dealing with the media–a state requirement–the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. That’s what kind of evil, political partisan I am. In that tempest in a teapot controversy, I understood what President Trump means by “fake news.”
According to Ilya Feoktistov, writing in The Federalist, there might be some teachers more deserving of the political partisan label:
Shortly after President Trump’s inauguration, a group of public school history teachers in the posh Boston suburb of Newton pledged to reject the ‘call for objectivity’ in the classroom, bully conservative students for their beliefs, and serve as ‘liberal propagandist[s]’ for the cause of social justice.
Surely this is exaggerated! No professional teacher would do such a thing? Yes they would, and don’t call me Shirley.
This informal pact was made in an exchange of emails among history teachers at Newton North High School, part of a very rich but academically mediocre public school district with an annual budget of $200 million, a median home price of almost half a million, and a median household income of more than $120,000. Read the entire email exchange here.
I obtained the emails under a Massachusetts public records law after one of those teachers arranged, earlier this year, for an anti-Semitic and anti-Israel organization to show Palestinian propaganda films at Newton North. This stunt earned the Newton Public Schools district a rebuke from the New England branch of the Anti-Defamation League and from Boston’s Jewish Community Relations Council. But, as the teachers’ emails reveal, Jew-hatred is not the only specter haunting the history department at Newton North.
Massachusetts is a Democrat controlled people’s republic where such things are more likely, but it is not the only place progressive propagandists infest classrooms.
It was late on a cold and snowy New England evening in February 2017, and Newton North history teacher Isongesit Ibokette was venting at his keyboard about the new guidelines for avoiding bias in teaching. They had been sent out by Newton North’s principal that morning, prompted by the general ill will among teachers for the new occupant of the White House.
The guidelines asked teachers to remain objective while teaching about historical and current events; and to treat all students, regardless of political opinion, with respect. Teachers were told: ‘For current controversial issues (health care, immigration, environmental policies, gun laws), teach students that there are different perspectives and present the reasoning of those who hold those different perspectives.
Outrageous! How can any loyally progressive possibly do anything like that! One must be on the right side of history! One must steadfastly oppose God and gun clinging Deplorables!
Ibokette was having none of it. He typed this reply: ‘I am concerned that the call for ‘objectivity’ may just inadvertently become the most effective destructive weapon against social justice,’ and sent it to the members of Newton North’s history department.
Ibokette was responding to an email from another Newton North history teacher, David Bedar. Bedar was same teacher who hosted the anti-Semites at Newton North, and has played a significant role in the years-long controversy over anti-Jewish bias in the public schools of the heavily Jewish suburb.
Earlier that February day, Bedar sent an email to fellow Newton North history faculty, accusing President Trump and his supporters of ‘nativism, xenophobia, homophobia, etc.,’ and objecting to the following ‘don’ts’ that the Newton North principal had asked teachers to avoid:
* ‘Assume that all students agree with us. . . .’
* ‘Assume that all students feel comfortable disagreeing with us. . . .’
* ‘Present facts or logic that support only one side of a current controversial issue. . . .’
* ‘Present our own personal opinion on a current controversial issue as more right than another viewpoint. . . .’
These guidelines seem like Pedagogy 101, and are foundational to correctly applying logic and reason. Yet Bedar, who holds a master’s in teaching from the prestigious Duke University, admitted to his colleagues:
‘Personally, I’m finding it really difficult in the current climate to teach kids to appreciate other perspectives. . . [T]he ‘other viewpoint’ might not really be an argument ‘about which reasonable people can disagree’ and might not lead to any kind of intellectual, policy debate; it might just be blatantly racist. . . . [I]t feels wrong to not call out ideas that I know will offend many of my students and create a hostile and potentially unsafe environment. . . . I’m worried that as a school we’re so focused on making all kids feel safe and being PC that we’re not showing enough concern for [immigrant] students whose very rights to attend this school and receive an education are being seriously threatened. . . . I don’t feel good about protecting [a nativist] student’s right to a so‐called ‘political’ view. . . Do I really have to avoid saying ‘I think nativism is bad?[‘] The eugenics movement was based in large part on immigrants destroying our country.
Eugenics!? And where, pray tell, has the Trump Administration, or anyone in it, supported Eugenics, or in any way furthered its practice? Notice that Bedar uses all the correct social justice buzz words and concepts. Immigrant kids are threatened; hearing viewpoints with which one disagrees makes school “unsafe.” Providing accurate renditions of conservative positions is “blatantly racist.”
Yet, in remarkable language, Bedar demanded that the school allow him to propagandize against it, and to do so without any professional consequences: ‘I have an obligation to teach civic duty and teach kids right and wrong, and about social justice. . . . This will probably be an unpopular opinion, but I don’t actually think we should have the option of not discussing [social justice] issues. I feel responsible for doing so. . . . We can help kids interpret the lessons of the past better than anybody. I feel like a phony when I’m not doing that. . . . But..this is hard. I don’t want to get fired for being a liberal propagandist” (emphasis added).
Mr. Bedar can avoid termination by simply not being a liberal propagandist, and being an honest, non-political educator. Apparently, that is too much to ask of a true believer in social justice.
Feoktistov was born in Russia, and has a revealing perspective on propaganda in the schools:
The year after the Soviet Union fell, I entered fifth grade at State School No. 8 in the Siberian city of Tomsk, where I was born at the beginning of the end of that evil empire. Usually, Soviet children started learning the history of Russia in fifth grade, but my teacher told the class that she had nothing to teach us anymore.
‘The old history books are useless now,’ I distinctly remember her telling us. ‘They were full of Communist Party lies.’ Just like that, the entire monument of official Soviet history, built upon an ideological foundation of lies and held together by despotism, crashed as soon as the coercive power that had kept it upright for 74 years disappeared in an instant.
It is at once extraordinary, and frightening, that so many American “educators” seek to recreate in America the horrors of communism. One would think history teachers might know better–the slaughter of more than 100 million people should make an impression–but the pursuit of social justice and transcendent good tends to be blinding.
After Bedar complained that he didn’t want to get fired for being a ‘liberal propagandist,’ his fellow history teacher, Ibokette, wrote back: ‘David, if you get fired for doing exactly what history teachers, and indeed all rational and ethical‐minded adults should indeed be doing, I will be right behind you.
Honest Americans should fervently hope such people are fired. Feoktistov concludes:
The Left is abusing American high school education in its struggle—not to do good, but to gain and retain political power. The ongoing trend of growing political intolerance and ideological bigotry among the newest American adults will continue, and nothing good will come of it. In the Soviet Union, I’ve seen what young people could be turned into, what I myself could be turned into. Trust me, America hasn’t seen anything yet.
If teachers are allowed, even encouraged to be political partisans, progressive propagandists, which is the case in many American schools, school districts, and colleges, Feoktistov is right. Progressives/Socialists/Communists know if they can seize the minds of the young, they own the future. They must be stopped, on the local, state, and national levels, or one day soon, our cultural cold war will become hot indeed–in the name of social justice, of course.