Michael Matteo: The new three R’s

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

Hillary Clinton’s 1996 book, It Takes a Village, was an insight into what would happen if parents gave in to the demand that parents must give up their right to raise their children and allow their “village” to raise them. Well, the village is raising (or is it razing) children through public school mandates and parents are being asked to accept it and be quiet.

When I started teaching in the mid-1980s the system leaned left but was reasonable and most educators understood the difference between objectivity and subjectivity. Today, public schools have toppled to the left.  Woke curricula are everywhere, and as parents attempt to fight back they are facing school boards comprised of those who have been educated to squash programs that reward good students with gifted classes in the guise of “equality.” They face districts run by individuals who are parrots and puppets of left-wing extremists who believe that math, good grammar, and anything that is truly “progressive” and helps children compete in the real world is systemically racist, sexist or transphobic.  

While students in other cultures are learning how to read, write and excel at math/science, American students are taught a variety of unproductive things, which will not help them be competitive. The difference between education and indoctrination is the former helps students excel and compete while the latter simply builds troops for the woke cause. The great debate over bathrooms rages on when the solution is actually quite simple and can be achieved through compromise: remove the names male/female from restrooms and replace them with photos of genitalia, and the following: “If you have this (picture of genitalia) use this room, if you have this (picture of other genitalia) use the other room.”

Parents face an uphill battle with teachers whose classrooms are Marxist indoctrination centers, and teachers whose stinted and myopic views punish students who question these fallacy-ridden theories. Young children are taught about sexual identity and robbed of the innocence of childhood by those who would seek to impose their warped sexual mores on them. The newest challenge comes from a federal government that has sought to unleash the F.B.I. on parents and treat them as domestic terrorists for simply questioning what is being taught to their children.  

The New York State Department of Education included the following as part of their agenda for creating “culturally” responsive schools: “For more than a century, education providers throughout the United States have strived and struggled to meet the diverse needs of American children and families. A complex system of biases and structural inequities is at play, deeply rooted in our country’s history, culture, and institutions. This system of inequity — which routinely confers advantage and disadvantage based on linguistic background, gender, skin color, and other characteristics — must be clearly understood, directly challenged, and fundamentally transformed.”  Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education Framework | New York State Education Department (nysed.gov)

The wording of what they wrote is filled with woke buzz words. So what will they do?  Will they introduce critical race theory, the 1619 Project, or something else which vilifies people based on race?  One “solution” to the inequities was proposed by lame-duck New York City mayor, Bill DeBlasio who has decided to eliminate the Gifted and Talented Program in New York City schools. Does this make things more equitable or punish excellent students who earned the right to be in these programs? The solution for many woke educators who use the guise of equity to dumb down curricula and deny excellent students of all races opportunities is to take away these opportunities. This is a classic characteristic of the myopic extreme left rationalism. 

Other instances of woke education on display involves separating students in classrooms by race or ethnicity. We have all seen videos of woke teachers whining about governors who have said that they will not allow reverse racist woke ideology into their school systems. We have all seen videos of parents speaking before unhearing school boards and giving examples of inappropriate sexual materials being dispersed to their children.  

The now infamous Loudoun County School System in Virginia is a place where a father who claimed his daughter was raped in a school bathroom by a boy wearing a skirt is a perfect example of what happens when a school system goes woke.  

The Loudoun Public School System has proposed the Diverse Classroom Initiative, which includes county-approved books for grades K-12. Some of the books on the list include My Princess Boy, a book that promotes the message to kindergartners that they can change their gender. It also includes the book, Heather Has Two Mommies, which is a book that denies the need for a father and doesn’t mention the feelings of a child who might feel a sense of loss for not having a father. The Loudoun County Democratic Committee defended the choice of this book by stating, “There are people who object to profanity and depictions of sexual activity in these books. However, the biggest objection is over LGBTQ+ content. When you object to a book like Heather Has Two Mommies, you are really objecting to same-sex marriage.” 

Other book titles on the Diverse Book List for grade 9 students included the following titles: Some Girls Bind, Quick and Easy Guide to Queer Trans Identities, Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out, Two Boys Kissing and PRIDE: Celebrating Diversity and Community.  The book Iron River is a book that vilifies a police officer who is described as “vindictive” as he attempts to pin a murder on two boys.  I didn’t see any books on the list that actually celebrated or commended the police for protecting people.  Watched, Dreamers and DACA, Lines We Cross and Does My Head Look Big in This? are all books that ask students to take a sympathetic approach to illegal immigration or that paint Americans as insensitive to people from other cultures.

When we ban books like To Kill a Mockingbird, 1984, Animal Farm, the plays of Shakespeare and other classic books that have been condemned by elitist educators or exclude these books from reading lists and replace them with other books that are clearly intentioned to promote an agenda, we do a disservice to our students. When the educational community attempts to silence parents because school boards “know better” about what kids should be learning, and insist that parents allow their children to be indoctrinated by ideas that are clearly one-sided, there is something very wrong. Parents, who pay taxes to fund these schools, have every right to question and challenge school boards over materials that they believe are not helping their students compete.

If our demand for social justice becomes the focal point of students’ days to the point of obsession, how will this help a student compete with students from around the world whose days are being filled with legitimate math, science and communication skills? Is it any wonder why US students continue to lag behind students from other nations in terms of test scores?

Michael Matteo
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