Many of my friends in the world of talk radio extol the virtues of private school education versus what at least one national star, Neal Boortz, refers to as a "government education."
I've often agreed. But every year when my kids return to private school -- the same one dad attended, along with other dinosaurs -- some new horror story surfaces about the school's wacky liberal slant.
Last year it was the otherwise good history teacher who right away informed my son's class that Ronald Reagan was the worst president in history. Wonder of wonders, my once libertarian son is now a proud liberal Democrat. (As he's a great kid, I'll respect his political leanings.)
This year began with a bizarre missive from the upper-school principal. She's likable, if a bit obsessed with East Coast prep-school perceptions. Unfortunately, her views appear to be symbolic of a disturbing trend creeping from "government schools" into private academies and prep schools. Parents of these children are writing bigger and fatter checks every year in hopes that their children will receive a solid education, minus political indoctrination to the left or right.
Worse, this rambling "welcome back" letter was addressed to parents as well as the students. Its deep-thinking, intellectual author tries to disarm readers with the preamble of, "Whatever your political leanings," -- uh oh, here it comes -- "you should all make a point of seeing the film of Al Gore's lecture on global warming, 'An Inconvenient Truth.'"
She also recommends a reading of Tom Friedman's "The World Is Flat." Gee, wasn't that yesteryear's literary sensation? Could it be that this school letter seeks to enlighten parents -- most of whom hold advanced degrees in subjects far beyond education pedagogy -- when its author may herself be behind the learning curve?
Anyway, let's read our letter in a sincere mood.
Gore's controversial film and Friedman's widely studied book are quickly presented as works that, "taken together, lay out an argument for curriculum in schools, for corporate and political decision-making in public life, and for personal choices each individual must make on a daily basis."
If these works of ideas are theories, I'm thinking, why should they become school curriculum, much less personal choices? Couldn't this educator's attempt to challenge our deficient intellectual capabilities at least be an impartial one?
Let's read on. On Friedman: "The flattening of the world has and will have a profound effect on all of us, and the reality of globalization has and will affect curriculum in schools like ours."
I may not agree with her opinion or Friedman's judgments, but at least I know now that she considers his well-tread theories to be facts.
Apparently, Gore's work is no mere hypothesis either. By the second paragraph of the letter, the writer is pondering the "most characteristically human ability (necessity?) to deny truths we just don't want to face."
Then comes this admonition: "We all must work hard to face some of the inevitability of the truths we don't like, and change our choices to reflect our deeper understanding."
I've paid a king's ransom for this rubbish.
Something tells me that "intellectually challenging theories" posed by someone such as conservative Pat Buchanan in his new book somehow aren't going to make it onto this administrator's reading list.
And clearly we need not consider alternative concepts to Gore's theory.
But action is louder than words. This second-in-command of my son's school has created a committee at the institution to be known as the "Flat World's Society."
Why stop there? How about another group, the "Pseudo-Intellectual Subliminal Liberalism Conversion Association of Educators Society"?
To repeat, I'd be just as appalled if my kids were steered by their school to watch Dan Quayle lecture on the value of nuclear energy, or to an assignment to read Newt Gingrich's book "Lessons Learned the Hard Way."
So if anyone thinks public schools have a monopoly on agenda-pushing rubbish, just give me a call. I'll get you a front row seat at the next meeting of the "Melting Polar Ice Caps Association." It meets just down the hall from my old locker room.