Trickle down indoctrination

Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.

During the last few days, the internet is buzzing with the viral video of public school teacher Gabriel Gipe a pro-ANTIFA teacher in California, who bragged that he has “180 days to turn his students into revolutionaries.” This is a “teacher” who adorned his classroom with an ANTIFA flag and admitted to using fear as a way to get students to believe in his political rhetoric.  

For months there have been numerous viral videos of public school “teachers” ranting and raving on social media platforms. One teacher, in a profanity-ridden tirade, was furious that the governor of her state mandated that she could not teach critical race theory. Yet, despite the fact that I wouldn’t let some of these people babysit for a pet rock, let alone exposing them to children, these teachers are not the problem, they are symptoms of a far greater problem that did not happen overnight but happened over decades. So how did it get this way?

When I went to college in the early 1980s, I had professors who encouraged students to engage in healthy, spirited debates where we walked away unscathed and actually learned that there are at least two sides to every issue. Some professors leaned left or right, but there were no safe rooms or speech codes and my experience was very positive and I learned to think for myself. These professors’ political positions were never the focal point of learning, and for the most part, we received an unbiased education that focused on a curriculum that was not polluted with subjective theories or fallacy-ridden doctrines which were portrayed as factual.  As a matter of fact, most social science courses stressed avoidance of fallacies, when arguing a position.

When I was in college, I took law and accounting classes. I had to pass difficult 200 question exams where I had to demonstrate that I understood what was taught. A few years ago, I inquired about taking classes to update my teaching certificate and found that many of the courses involved me being graded on message board posts, and tests had been replaced with papers and my grade was contingent upon whether the professors liked what I wrote or not.     

During this time period, students didn’t have much say in whether teachers kept jobs or not and the professors had no fear of students. I had one freshman English professor who announced on day 1 that he gave 1-A, 1-B, 1-C and everyone else got D’s and F’s and he was one of the toughest graders I experienced during my undergraduate years. Students didn’t complain, they merely accepted it, and I ended up with the only B he issued in that course and learned a great deal about writing from this very stern teacher.   

Two decades later, I did a few lectures in colleges and was amazed at how things had changed. I remember one professor telling me that she was afraid of losing her job if students didn’t like her class or reported anything negative about her teaching. Today the situation has worsened, and there are so many instances where students actually make demands of college administrators to fire professors who are accused of racism or not being sensitive to student demands.  

Now we are two more decades after the millennium, and the students whom professors feared and who became teachers are now veteran teachers in schools at all levels. Many fail to understand the difference between being objective versus being subjective and poison the educational system with their own agendas that are heavily based on the parroting of what they have been told by “teachers” for 16 or 18 years of their lives. 

Years earlier, we were taught to teach skills and we were taught the importance of merit as a way to make society better. Today, most college admissions officers use subjective profiling and ignore things like SAT or ACT scores and GPA’s because it’s more important to have a diverse student population than allowing students who actually earn their way into a school based on merit, and once again, the words, “Systemic Racism” echo in hallways in the nation’s campuses as an excuse for ignoring qualifications in favor of “diversity.” 

Trickle-down indoctrination plagues public education because those who became college professors in the ’90s and later flooded into high schools and elementary schools over the past two decades.  When I taught in a public school in the mid-1980s, I am guessing that the ratio of liberal to conservative teachers was around 8:4, but most teachers taught the curriculum and remained objective because they understood that the essence of teaching is teaching students HOW – not WHAT – to think.  This is a lesson that too many teachers have never learned or simply forgot.

As I read articles that include instances of teachers telling students that their race either makes them a victim or an oppressor, or articles that claim grammar is racist, math is racist or other absurd notions, I think back on how revisionist history books were all the rage in textbooks of the 1980s, but this pales in comparison to the overt falsehoods being taught every day in American classrooms by teachers whose biased perspective makes them incapable of being effective teachers. 

There was a time when teachers taught reading, writing, and arithmetic, and these were called the 3 Rs. Today we need to add a 4th R, rationalization, which is used to justify what students are learning. The current path in education is to pacify fringe groups and foster the belief that America is overtly racist, capitalism is evil and it is the teacher’s job to push his/her political views on impressionable minds regardless of the class that they are teaching. Nothing could be further from the actual purpose of education. America has not been a perfect country, but the same people purporting these negative notions have been given opportunities to go to college, obtain master’s degrees and Ph.D.’s that they would not have been able to do if they lived in other countries. 

A country’s future is based upon the success of its educational system, and an educational system is only as good as those delivering lessons to the youth of that country. For too long the silent majority has been just that, but as parents storm school boards and demand accountability, objectivity and that those paid to educate actually educate, there is hope.  

Ridding schools of the Gabriel Gipes, and others like him treats symptoms, but it is imperative that parents continue to actively monitor what their children are being taught and voice their displeasure to prevent the further deterioration of the system. Putting economic pressure on colleges by not allowing their children to attend them is the way to infuse change and prevent the trickling down of wokeness into the fabric of American education because a school without students is just an empty building.

Michael Matteo

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