“The essential question is whether, in America, the people’s psychology has been so successfully warped, the individual’s spirit so thoroughly trounced, and the civil society’s institutions so effectively overwhelmed that revival is possible. Have too many among us already surrendered or been conquered? Can the people overcome the constant and relentless influences of ideological indoctrination, economic manipulation, and administrative coerciveness, or have they become hopelessly entangled in and dependent on a ubiquitous federal government? Have the Pavlovian appeals to radical egalitarianism and the fomenting of jealousy and faction through class warfare and collectivism conditioned the people to accept or even demand compulsory uniformity as just and righteous? Is is accepted as legitimate and routine that the government has sufficient license to act whenever it claims to do so for the good of the people and against the selfishness of the individual?” — Marl Levine, Ameritopia
Are we so far down the road to Ameritopia that there is no turning back? Sometimes I wonder if this is not true. For the past 40 years or so we have been educating generations of young American children in a public school system that is so corrupt with radical liberal indoctrination that we are lost as a free Constitutional Republic.
If you pay attention to national polls you constantly see a trend where so-called “young voters” are leaning more and more to the left and have definite belief that the government knows best and that it can meet all of needs. Social justice and fairness has replaced individuality, entrepreneurship, and freedom.
As a society dependent on government as we live our daily lives, and get our news and information from a media so biased to the left it no longer denies this fact, we blithely live our lives paying little heed to what is going on around us. Most people over the age of fifty tend to believe things are much as they were when they were young while those under that age believe things the way they always were. This is the product of our K-12 and college education systems.
We, the older folks, have allowed the radical left to kidnap our K-12 education and have gleefully paid the bill for it.
The latest expose of this fact is reported in a comprehensive article from Accuracy in Media detailing how PBS is Re-Educating America’s Schoolchildren, Thanks to Your Contributions by Mary Grabar and Tina Trent.
The opening paragraphs of the report state:
“When most people think of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s education programs, they remember the gentle Mr. Rogers welcoming children to his home, or documentaries offering exciting encounters with whales and other exotic creatures.
These shows still exist. But CPB today produces lessons that glorify the Black Panthers and riots and protests of the 1960s, present rocker Patti Smith as a “patriot” for singing songs that condemn President George W. Bush, vilify Wal-Mart, and sanctify environmentalist Rachel Carson. Although their educational materials claim to be objective, the truth is that their unrelenting ideological slant that promotes the politics of protest and civil disobedience is aimed at re-educating children into becoming far-left activists.
But whenever there are attempts to cut federal funding to CPB, the corporation points to its “educational programming” as proof that the approximately $450 million it receives annually from federal taxpayers is being put to good use. Big Bird and other members of the cast of Sesame Street show up in Congress to tell members of the educational value of CPB-funded programs.”
The PBS Teachers website touts its “high-quality pre-K–12 educational resources…classroom materials suitable for a wide range of subjects and grade levels…thousands of lesson plans, teaching activities, on-demand video assets, and interactive games and simulations.” Education is big business for CPB.
Their teacher training and certification are also big business. PBS Teacherline boasts it is “the premiere provider of high-quality online professional development.” Their “collection of more than 130 top quality, graduate level courses for educators spans the entire curriculum.” PBS offers peer assistance, instructional coaches, and other “productive communications and collaboration,” to K–12 teachers.
For the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, providing course syllabi, teacher certification, and other materials to schools serves a dual purpose: it justifies the continuation of taxpayer subsidies for Public Broadcasting while inculcating millions of schoolchildren—a captive audience—with their programming and ideological messages.”
As a person well over the age of 50 I watched as my children grew up in the 60’s to Sesame Street and the gentle Mr. Rodgers. As a busy parent building a business and career I did not give much thought to PBS and even provided financial support for their numerous and on-going requests for money. I also enjoyed their documentaries and reports on historical issues and nature. I also enjoyed the fact that there were no commercials, with the exception of the numerous pledge drives.
Over the years, until recently, I gave little thought to PBS and with the advent of cable and satellite radio I changed my viewing and listening habits and rarely watched public television or listened to public radio.
Recently for the past two or three years I began reading articles and learning how radically left PBS has become. It is loaded with leftist and anti-American propaganda, and this is paid for with our tax dollars. Here are a few snippets from the AIM report that I found very disturbing.
“For foundations that donate to CPB, PBS, NPR, or state affiliates, PBS Teachers provides a ready-made platform for advancing their ideas and agendas to those same captive student audiences. George Soros’ combined Open Society Foundations (OSF) has supported National Public Radio and independent projects throughout the CPB universe, including underwriting documentaries used in classrooms to “educate” students on various causes. In 2010, Soros made an additional grant of $1.8 million to NPR’s state government reporting initiative. Other large donors include the Joan B. Kroc estate ($230 million after Kroc’s 2003 death), the U.S. Department of Education, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
By creating primary materials through programming and reporting and then producing syllabi packaged by age group based on those primary materials, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting has evolved into perhaps the single most influential voice in the nation’s classrooms, while defending their own taxpayer funding streams by doing so.”
As you see there are some powerful and left-leaning and radical organizations financing and controlling PBS. It is even worse when you consider that the U.S. Department of Education is putting your tax dollars into PBS’ radical agenda.
What types of lessons do students get for this money? An analysis of the thousands of lessons available would fill volumes. At first glance, PBS Teachers curricular materials reflect the skill Public Broadcasting has achieved in putting a veneer of objectivity on their radio and television news programs. But a closer look at the courses offered reveals two overriding tendencies: first, a decidedly leftist ideological slant promoting a “social justice” agenda, and second, relentless emotional manipulation of students, the aim of which is to make them into activists for far-left causes.
“The leftist ideological slant is evident in a variety of ways: the quantity of lesson plans focusing on multiculturalism, or identity politics, versus traditional learning; an emphasis on leftist causes and social movements; partisan political material disguised as “media analysis” of elected officials or government policies, and criticism of capitalism and the idea of American exceptionalism. In addition, there is an overemphasis on pop culture, that isn’t necessarily leftist, but is of questionable educational value.
There are approximately equal numbers of courses about George Washington and “hip-hop” music.
Nearly 100 lessons are dedicated to protest movements, several of which are large, interdisciplinary projects designed to occupy substantial portions of the school day or school semester.
The number of courses dedicated to the theme of environmentalism dwarfs other subjects.
Health and Fitness, Economics, and Current Events curricula routinely feature highly ideological themes, such as the negative effects of a Wal-Mart moving into town (Store Wars: When Wal-Mart Comes to Town), or the dangers of genetically modified foods.
Even traditional subjects are presented with an ideological bent. Lessons on periods of history such as World War II or major literary works focus on oppression. Short shrift is given to universal themes, major literary developments, or a sense of historical progression.”
How Are Subjects Being Taught? (The Emotion Revolution)
According to the AIM report subjects are taught focusing on emotion rather than fact. This is a proven tactic of the left to play on emotions to indoctrinate rather than allow the child to learn and be influenced by their parents. In fact many parents do not even know what is being taught in the K-12 system and by the time their child graduated from high school they wonder why he or she has such radical leftist and anti-American views.
The AIM report continues:
“PBS Teachers is leading the shift in education from objective to “emotional” learning. This increasing reliance in classrooms on emotion-based encounters is revolutionary, affecting both what is taught and how it is taught. PBS lessons across the curriculum de-emphasize facts and ideas in favor of eliciting subjective responses and personal opinions from students, or even leading students through exercises designed to make them imagine the emotions of various individuals involved in historical events. Students are evaluated not so much on what they know as on the attitudes they hold.
Consequences of the Emotion Revolution:
PBS lessons vigorously promote an extreme, trans-historical version of identity politics, dividing all people into groups of “victims” and “victimizers.”
Lessons and assignments are designed to force students to express political beliefs and engage in coercive, emotion-based exercises in reaction to controversial issues.
Students are forced to engage in a variety of staged traumas in the classroom and with each other, ostensibly to “experience” historical events.
Students are subjected to obsessive exhortations to “oppose bullying” and “teach tolerance.” They are made to play-act instances of bullying and are instructed to discover intolerance and prejudice in their own families, communities, and peers.
By imposing political bias and forcing students to participate in scripted explorations of “appropriate” emotional responses to selective historical events, PBS Teachers is transforming education into re-education. A closer look at individual lesson plans will demonstrate how PBS curricula turn classrooms into recruitment sites for leftist causes.
Any benefits once derived from allowing your children watch Big Bird, Mr. Rogers, or learning their ABC by watching PBS have been far overshadowed by their leftist ideology in their programing. If you allow your children to watch PBS in an unsupervised manner, as many parents do as the go about their business while PBS takes care of the kids, it’s tantamount to allowing Regan MacNeil play with an Ouija board in her basement as portrayed in the 1973 horror file The Exorcist.
Protest Lessons: Pigs in the Street
“Public Broadcasting has become bolder in casting an ideological lens over history, and this is reflected in the classroom materials they produce. Some of the most egregious examples of this ideological bias appear in syllabi covering the protest movements of the 1960’s. One such lesson was derived from an episode of the PBS show, History Detectives. The show examines a protest poster from the 1968 Democratic Convention featuring a picture of a thuggish street cop and an upraised “black-power” fist, with the words: “Hot Town—Pigs in the Streets…But the streets belong to the people! Dig it?”
The Hot Town lesson plan requires students to contemplate the radical street protests and riots of the late 1960s almost exclusively from the perspective of the protesters. The videotaped segments taken from the History Detectives show are narrated by an academic who speaks of having been enrolled in a “Black Panther Party breakfast program” and having “heard a lot of their educational speeches.” The violence of the Black Panthers, including murders and armed bank robberies, goes unmentioned as the Panthers are romanticized as mere social workers. The poster crudely depicting policemen as “pigs” becomes the object of a “mystery” hunt to discover its origins.
The Hot Town lesson is typical of many PBS syllabi that deliver radical content from a biased perspective while claiming to be teaching students useful interpretive skills: in this case, the skill is “researching an historical artifact.” The lesson enables sympathetic-appearing radicals to reminisce about screaming epithets at the police and rioting in the streets. “Police brutality” is discussed at length, while the Black Panthers’ murderous campaign against real police officers and fellow activists is not mentioned. The Hot Town video ends with the poster creator’s happy memory of knocking over a police van. He is described as an activist who went from rioting to serving health food to poor people and who now works as a Chicago Ward president for the Democratic Party.
A related “protest” lesson that whitewashes protester violence is the multi-part curriculum, Chicago 10. It uses an animated version of the 1968 Chicago riots depicting violent protesters as victims of police brutality to “encourage people to take a more active role in protest.” The lesson also describes the arrest of protesters planning to bomb the 2008 Republican Convention as mere police over-reach that was exposed by courageous activists with cell phones. Revolution in Newark teaches students that the Newark Riots were a principled “uprising.” A Civil Disobedience exercise featuring Code Pink activist Cindy Sheehan directs students to imagine “a situation in which they might use civil disobedience” and then write a journal “reflect[ing] on” their imaginary protest and law-breaking.
PBS protest-based curricula are deployed throughout the disciplines with the justification that the lessons are not only about the protest itself but also are intended to teach “critical thinking” (a means of leftist indoctrination introduced by the Frankfurt School in the 1920’s) or historical research, or music, or art. Thus, more of the school day may be dedicated to romanticizing protesters, demonizing those trying to maintain social order, and training children to become activists.”
Even their coverage of World War II has been couched in an emotional and leftist biased view. As AIM reports:
“It is not only in lessons on current hot-button issues that students are directed toward activism, but also in regular history lessons. Even when dealing with major world events, like World War II, students are required to engage emotionally, play out roles as if their actions and attitudes had decisive effects, and respond on the spot under group pressure—all in a virtual knowledge vacuum.
For the search term, “World War II,” 59 lesson plans among 162 total items (including videos) show up. Most of these lessons take the focus off the world stage to the domestic. Large political questions are skirted in favor of the personal. This has the effect of leveling all players, ally and foe.
The largest number, 13, of these lessons use the PBS series The War directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Many focus on the domestic and personal: in Combat and War, students study soldiers’ testimonies about psychological and physical effects of war; Letters from the Front Line asks students to examine letters of a soldier and “imagine that you are a soldier fighting on the front lines…and create a letter to your family”; On the Home Front asks students to “Consider life in America prior to its entry into World War II and explore changes brought on by wartime industry.” There are units on Art and Propaganda and Censorship, and one on The War through the Eyes of Al McIntosh, who reported on the local impact of the war. Other lessons focus on The Hispanic Experience in World War II, the Double V program to gain access for African-Americans, and two dealing with the Japanese-American Internment. Even the lesson on the Battle of the Bulge asks students to examine the battle “from both American and German points of view.” The unit on Just War directs the teacher to another unit on pacifists and suggests bringing up the possibility of ulterior motives that might not be evident at the beginning of war. The lesson, D-Day: June 6, 1944, asks students to put together multimedia presentations on their specific battle plans for Operation Overlord.
A disproportionate number of lessons related to World War II focus on the relocation to camps of 110,000 American citizens and aliens of Japanese descent from 1942 to 1944. This regrettable wartime event has taken on monumental proportions, and in the PBS universe, it dwarfs major battles, worldwide suffering and death, and Allied victory.
As in the earlier lessons described, emotional engagement is elicited at every turn. History Detectives appears again to offer artifacts for contemplation, including Japanese internment camp materials. “Webisodes” and documentary clips are available as prompts. Students are imaginatively catapulted into various traumatic scenarios, like being asked to pack for a trip to an internment camp. Comparisons are made to the treatment of Jews by the Nazis, with any buried feelings of animosity presented as potentially erupting into “hatred” of the same order.
Students are then asked to apply lessons from World War II to other, more recent, events like the 9/11 attacks. The internment camps become launching points for discussions about racist feelings harbored in the hearts of Americans. Students are asked to scour their consciences as they “reflect” on situations in current events or in their own environments. Such lessons are often, ironically, tagged as addressing “Mental/Emotional Health” and other pedagogically suspect areas like “Historical Perspective” and “Critical Thinking.”
There are many more disturbing examples including racism, social justice, Islamophobia, the evils of Wal-Mart, and radical environmentalism of how your tax dollars are being used to indoctrinate K-12 students in our public schools. (I am sure no mention was made of the millions of African children died from malaria and dunge fever due to the fallacious banning of DDT). was I imagine lazy and uneducated teachers, especially in the lower grades, love these PBS programs as they relieve them of the burden of doing their own research and learning the facts. I suggest you read the complete AIM report to see how your tax dollars are being used to turn our K-12 students into burgeoning radical, anti-American leftists and recruits for the Occupying Wall Street Movement or any other socialist movement that comes along.
No student should be subjected to the unsettling and coercive teaching techniques evident throughout the PBS Teachers lesson plans. Merely increasing political “balance” by adding more viewpoints and resources from across the political spectrum will not do enough to address underlying problems involving teaching techniques, techniques that replace knowledge, logic, and the acquisition of real critical thinking skills with emotional manipulation and the production of guilt and shame.
Nor should taxpayers be asked to support the dissemination of biased educational materials. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s ace in the hole in demanding taxpayer support has long been their argument that they deserve to be funded because they contribute to the education of America’s schoolchildren. But should taxpayers continue to fund what is in reality the re-education of America’s schoolchildren? We think not.
Adolph Hitler and other totalitarian dictators such as Lenin and Mao said that if you gave then the children until they were seven they were theirs. Is this what we are allowing with our tax supported Corporation for Public Broadcasting. I think so.
Mary Grabar teaches in the English department at Emory University and writes frequently about education, and cultural and political issues, for the Weekly Standard, Minding the Campus, Townhall, PJ Media, Roll Call, Big Government, America's Survival and many others. In 2011 she founded Dissident Prof Education Project, Inc., a nonprofit education reform initiative intended to “resist the re-education of America.” Tina Trent, PhD. writes about crime policy and the media, academia, and political radicalism. She is a researcher for The Soros Files and blogs at TinaTrent.com.