by Charles Gruenwald
Clash Daily Guest Contributor
Compared to recent examples of indoctrination in public schools, I really have no reason to complain about teachers trying to pass their personal political opinions off to me as fact. Recently, fifteen year-old Benji Backer wrote a very detailed account of personal experiences where teachers personally attacked him for his conservative beliefs. Thanks to our rather new ability to bypass the traditional media, stories such as Benji’s are now surfacing.
As a student – especially in grade school, it could be hard to distinguish between indoctrination and teaching. However, moving from grade school, to junior high, and then on to high school and college, the ability to identify a teacher’s political beliefs should become easier. Unfortunately, trying to confront a teacher with a socialist philosophy in the classroom could prove to be a difficult task, since that teacher, instructor or professor could use their ability to control their students’ grades – and ultimately their GPAs to maintain control of their message.
In sixth grade, I had a social studies class that started just before eleven A.M. Central time. A few days before Ronald Reagan’s first inauguration, someone had asked our social studies teacher if we were going to watch the inauguration in class. With an abrupt “no” and no explanation why we were not going to watch a part of American history in a social studies class, it seemed as though our teacher was perhaps not a fan of Ronald Reagan.
In my first high school, the teachers rarely blatantly mixed politics and education – to the best of my knowledge. The only example of politics being discussed outside of a history class that comes to mind is a science teacher who talked about a high school trip to Moscow.
During the last trip, a student had been arrested for asking a pharmacist for an aspirin at a drug store. If I remember correctly, aspirin was considered a controlled substance in the Soviet Union. As a result of the arrest, Russian authorities asked the school officials to not return to Russia. During the course of this discussion, the teacher talked about Soviet politics, especially their fondness of revising history. He used athletes as an example. According to the Soviets, they were the best at everything. If an athlete won a gold medal in the Olympics, he or she had nothing to worry about – they were treated as national heroes. However, anything less than first place, and that athlete would be purged from history; any past news accounts where he or she had been mentioned would be “updated”. Oh, and that athlete would disappear as well. This type of criticism of communist practices may be a rarity in other public school classrooms.
My high school closed at the end of my junior year, so I spent my senior year at a smaller school in a semi-rural town.
During a history class, a teacher at this other school discussed the political spectrum – the one with communists at the liberal end, and Nazis at the conservative end. Of course, he never mentioned that Nazis were socialists.
It was during this lecture that he told us how we were “supposed” to vote. He told us that since most of us were Jewish or Christian, lower or middle class, we were supposed to vote for Democrats. He also said that, although we may want to vote for Republicans, the Democrats represented us.
If only I knew then what I know now, I could’ve had some spirited discussions with that teacher. But then again, I may have also had to repeat that class.
As for present-day Democrats representing me, there is a big philosophical difference between that party and my religion which nullifies such a statement.
My grandmother was an old school Catholic – she believed that we were put on this Earth to suffer. From Al Gore and other high-profile politicians, to Michael Moore and a big part of the entertainment industry, the elitist environmentalist philosophy is that everyone should suffer – except me. If you could afford to buy carbon credits, then you are privileged to plant the biggest carbon footprint on nature’s backside that your private jet could churn out. In all fairness, there were Republicans who voted for the cap and tax on carbon dioxide emissions, such as then-Representative Mark Kirk from Illinois.