Headlines about left-wing college students engaging in radical, sometimes racially charged protests are becoming all too common.
In October 2016, students at University of California, Berkeley created a human chain in an attempt to block white students from going to class.
This past May, students at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington demanded– in the name of racial equity – that white students stay home from school for a day. These students shouted down faculty who disagreed with them, and the dispute led to multiple protests that eventually forced the college to hold its commencement ceremony 30 miles away from campus.
These stories are outrageous, but unfortunately, nothing new. Universities have been a hotbed for left-wing activism for decades. In fact, Ronald Reagan ran for Governor of California in 1966 promising to crack down on the rioting and radicalism at Berkeley.
A recent story out of Minnesota, however, suggests that the Left is now bringing this same radicalism to K-12 public education, and the ones suffering are the young students, who are in their most impressionable years.
Katherine Kersten, founding director and Senior Policy Fellow at the Center of the American Experiment, recently wrote about liberal policy and curriculum changes made by Edina school system officials in Minnesota that are causing the once celebrated school system to slip.
The school system itself adopted a so-called “All for All” policy in 2013 which all students “will acquire an awareness of their own cultural identity and value racial, cultural, and ethnic diversities so as to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures and socioeconomic backgrounds.”
This may sound innocent, even laudable. But the implementation of this policy shows it is merely a thinly veiled attempt to instill radical, left-wing political views in impressionable children.
According to Kersten, grade school-aged students in the Edina system are learning the alphabet by reading a book called A is for Activist.
As the title suggests, it’s a left-wing “ABC” book that teaches children concepts such as C stands for “Creative Counter to Corporate vultures,” “F is for Feminist,” “T is for Trans” – you get the idea.
The book’s own description describes it as being “written and illustrated for the next generation of progressives: families who want their kids to grow up in a space that is unapologetic about activism, environmental justice, civil rights, LGBTQ rights, and everything else that activists believe in and fight for.”
This is pure, unapologetic political indoctrination of American youth. Imagine the outrage among educators if young students were assigned a book designed to create the next generation of conservatives.
The indoctrination continues throughout the student experience in the school system.
An 11th grade U.S. Literature and Composition teacher in the Edina system instructs students in her syllabus that by the end of the school year, they will have, “learned how to apply marxist [sic], feminist, post-colonial, psychoanalytic, reader response, and aesthetic lenses to literature.” Notice the absence of any sort of conservative or traditionalist lens.
A high school in the system offered a course called “Race, Racism, and Whiteness” as an elective during its May term in the 2016-2017 school year. The school system superintendent later denied offering such a course, but the Center of the American Experiment found proof.
When President Trump was elected, Kersten writes that the entire school system went into hysteria. Teachers were openly crying in class the day after the election, and one reportedly told students that “Trump winning is worse than 9/11 and the Columbine shooting.”
Many students who don’t conform to the liberal leanings of the faculty reported being afraid to express their opinions, and after the election, some requested to be picked up early from school for fear of being berated for their views.
Unsurprisingly, when the school system began to focus on left-wing indoctrination and intimidation instead of the fundamentals of education, student performance began to slip.
Citing Minnesota Department of Education statistics, Kersten reported that the percentage of students attending Edina High School who met state standards for reading dropped from 86 percent in 2014 to 79 percent in 2017. In math, 79 percent of Edina high school students were performing at grade level in 2014, while only 66 percent are today.
The high school used to be fifth in the state for reading scores, now it’s 29th. It used to be 10th in math proficiency, now it’s 40th.
This sudden decline in performance is what happens when educators think it is their job to impose their political views on students. Every American, in every state should make sure their elected school officials are focused on education – not political indoctrination.
Newt Gingrich is the author of 'Understanding Trump' and is a former Speaker of the House.