Dr. Ron Paul’s contention that the U.S. Department of Education (ED) should be eliminated has raised eyebrows. The networks’ talking heads along with many average citizens simply cannot conceive of how children can be educated without the assistance of the U.S. Department of Education. The idea that we could survive without ED is dismissed as ludicrous.
Many of the same objections made against Dr. Paul’s criticisms of ED have been made against homeschooling. The National Education Association (NEA) has vociferously criticized home schooling. Indeed, one member of NEA angrily referred to home schooling as "child abuse." But most parents who choose to home school do so based on what they have learned about public schools; primarily from their own children. Their conclusion is that public schools indoctrinate rather than educate.
Indoctrination and behavior modification in public schools are the result of the policies of the Department of Education and the influence of the National Education Association. Many in academia approve of these policies and vigorously defend public education. They maintain that indoctrination is not taking place in public schools. Instead, they claim that today’s educators are simply viewing history and other subjects from a new and enlightened perspective.
Is it "indoctrination" or an "enlightened perspective" that is attempting to shape the opinions of today’s youth? Your answer may depend on your political persuasion. But you can decide for yourself by reviewing the results of a recent study conducted on high school students: 2000 juniors and seniors from all 50 states. The study was reported in the February 5th edition of USA Today and the results of the study are scheduled to appear in the March issue of The Journal of American History.
Students were instructed to list the most famous Americans in history — from the time of Columbus up to the current year. The only restriction placed on them was that presidents and first ladies could not be named. From the time of Columbus (1492) to the year 2008 covers a wide range of persons to choose from. During those centuries, there were countless exceptional Americans.
Below is the published summary of the students’ lists of the "top 10" most famous Americans in history, ranked in order on their importance, with the percentage of students who chose each person:
- Martin Luther King, Jr.: 67%
- Rosa Parks: 60%
- Harriet Taubman: 44%
- Susan B. Anthony: 34%
- Benjamin Franklin: 29%
- Amelia Earhart: 25%
- Oprah Winfrey: 22%
- Marilyn Monroe: 19%
- Thomas Edison: 18%
- Albert Einstein: 16%
I was a bowled over when I first saw this list but I shouldn’t have been surprised. It is another illustration of the ongoing revisionist accounts of history. It is significant to note how pop-culture influenced this list. Based on the students’ choices, it appears that public schools not only indoctrinate students but also dumb-down the learning material presented in classes.
But many of us, along with Dr. Paul and homeschoolers, profoundly object to this manipulation of our youth. This is another illustration that when the central government has a monopoly on public education, fair and balanced presentations of history suffer. What results are listless programmed minds of malleable young students conditioned to accommodate the state’s goals.
Gail Jarvis [send him mail] is a free-lance writer.