Agenda Pushing and Censorship in Secondary Schools
By Christine Anne Inauen
By now, it has become widely accepted among conservatives that college institutions are among the worst offenders in infringing the a intellectual freedom of students. But academic censorship within the walls of secondary schools may be even worse than censorship at the collegiate level. Unable to threaten legal action against their school, and often with little or no ability to transfer, highly impressionable secondary school students are a captive audience in the truest sense of the term.
Perhaps part of the reason college professors get away with the abuses they do is a testament to how accustomed our children have become to being shamed out of their pride in America at the high school level. Students are brainwashed and bullied into accepting academia's distain for conservative individuals years before they even set foot onto college campuses.
The following are some instances of liberal indoctrination that I experienced at my Catholic high school:
During Sophomore year, we were required to do community service landscaping in an extremely rough area of a large city. There was a school on the premises where we were working. During the students' recess, we were spit at (through a fence), cursed at, and young boys pulled down their pants and underwear while yelling "s*ck it!" at us.
Some students from my high school even found used needles and dirty condoms in the area we were instructed to clean and landscape. Later that week, a teacher informed my class that her department was "pleased" with the results of our excursion. The following year, my school sent over one hundred students to the same school on another mandatory trip. During Junior year, my history teacher told our American history class that, to date, it is harder for women to get ahead in our society than it is for men. When I raised my hand to say that I felt this wasn't the case anymore, I was told that "history class" is not for discussing the issue I was responding to. He continued to tell me that if I wanted to share opinions on such issues I should take his sociology class. So I did. The following semester I signed up for his sociology class, and in return, I endured months of lectures on how it is harder for women and minorities to get ahead than it is for white men. There was one girl in my class who sat in the corner and would loudly babble to herself that I was a racist. Our teacher never took issue with her, or even seemed to notice at all, which is something I find hard to believe, considering that she sat significantly closer to our teacher than I did. I was able to hear her clearly from where I was sitting.
Each year, my high school has "Awareness Day" for students. Students are required to attend small workshops of their choice after watching the main presentation in the morning. Many of the workshops either have a leftward slant (such as granting Hispanics asylum on the basis of their ethnicity), or present neutral topics with a leftist spin (Middle East politics, international crime). So I was thrilled when our principal approached the Debate Team and asked us if we would like to run a workshop of our own on the topic of weapons of mass destruction. It was the first time that students ever ran a workshop on Awareness Day. We started the presentation with a formal debate, which led to a very lively discussion of the topic with the audience. It was a huge success. The following year, when we wanted to do another Debate Team presentation (this time on mental health care) for "Awareness Day," we were not given permission. Maybe this was because our WMD presentation gave equal weight to each side of the issue.
For yet another "Awareness Day," my school administration invited a group of liberal speakers to make a presentation on Nike sweatshops. Towards the end of the lecture, one of the speakers asked all students who considered themselves "politically conservative" to raise their hands. Conservatives were the only political group picked on during the presentation. Of the students raising their hands, they singled out an underclassman; she did not volunteer. The speaker called her to the auditorium stage and proceeded to humiliate her in front of the entire student body. The speaker instructed the girl to pretend that she was a sweatshop worker who had begun her menstrual cycle and was asking for time off due to her period. The speaker screamed at her, calling her a "bitch" at the top of his lungs. As if this wasn't enough, he demanded that she pull down her underwear and show everyone that she was "bleeding."
In a class required for sophomores, we spent an entire period playing "The Poverty Game." Each student was given a few coins with which they were to purchase pictures, scissors, and glue sticks from the "store" in order to make a collage. Students were given their particular amount of money at random; in other words, some students were quite rich and others were very poor. If a student did not have enough money (which the majority didn't) to purchase the materials, they had to apply for "welfare." The "welfare officers" were instructed by our teacher to be as nasty and unfair as they wanted to be. At any time during the game the "police officers" could hassle and arrest a student if the officers felt the student was breaking some law. The "store owner" was encouraged to charge whatever price she wanted to on the items. Students had to beg the "store owner" to lower the prices of the supplies. The game portrayed each member of society who had achieved any degree of success to be an evil creep.
On the first anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a teacher gave us a rather lengthy handout which argued that whether a culture is "civilized" is relative. The handout was full of statements such as "a terrorist loves his truth just as much as I love mine," and "one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." Our teacher went on to say that America imposing its view of what it is to "be civilized" on the Afghan people is bigoted. It would be disgusting to initiate such a discussion on the anniversary of 9/11, even if my school wasn't located 15 miles from Ground Zero. Many students in our school, including myself, lost family members the day of the attacks. Regardless of one student's crying in class, the teacher continued to be downright nasty when some of the other students expressed their outrage.
Students at my school endured multi-annual presentations, videos, and lectures on the "forgiveness of world debt." All of the videos attributed footage of Africans living in squalor to the United States' "selfishness" in not forgiving debts of developing countries. Forgiveness of world debt is a rather complex economic concept, but the general conservative stance regarding debt forgiveness is that doing so would result in little or no improvement of third world living standards. At the end of my Senior year, in a totally unrelated project, I decided to survey the political knowledge of some of the teachers at my school. The teacher who was the biggest proponent of forgiveness of world debt could not even name the governor of our state.
Intellectual abuse is repulsive at every level, but it is particularly outrageous when ideological teachers prey upon society's youngest and most impressionable members. These cowards hide behind the guise of one of the most respected professions while taking advantage of their authority to stifle the curiosity of those entrusted into their care. For all that liberal teachers wax poetic about civil rights and human rights, many of them are guilty of blithely stomping on the intellectual freedom of those they are charged to help.
Christine Anne Inauen is a first-year undergraduate student and attends school in Washington, D.C.