Friday, May 02, 2008

Oakland, California Schools Propagandize Students

That educators in California strongly disagree with state funding proposals that could result in teacher layoffs is not surprising. However, that teachers in Oakland, California have resorted, with the tacit approval of the school district, to propaganda in an effort to indoctrinate students on this and other issues is unacceptable.

As an example of what took place in yesterday's "teach-in," the New York Times reports that students were given a worksheet showing the amount of money spent on the war in Iraq and relating that to the fact that "our schools don't have money." One high school senior quoted in the story shows that she understood what she was taught. She said, “We don’t have any money because it’s all going to the war. And now they’re shutting all this stuff down.”

Unfortunately, the student doesn't seem to understand (because the propagandist leading her class didn't teach it) that the amount of money spent on the war in Iraq -- a federal expenditure -- has nothing to do with how much the government of the state of California spends on education. Speaking of California spending, U.S. census data shows that per pupil spending in California increased from $5,255 in 1997 to $8,486 in 2006. That increase of over 60% hardly qualifies as not having any money.

Thus, students were apparently mislead during school hours about both state spending and the nature of federalism in order to support a political goal.

Craig Gordon, the social studies teacher responsible for the day's curriculum claims that the goal was to "raise awareness" and help students "to actively think about the priorities of society." A district spokesman claimed that the lessons exemplify "a comprehensive education" that considers "the subjects that are taught in relation to current events." In fact, the teaching represents a fundamental failure of civics instruction. The teachers responsible should be fired for incompetence.

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