The turning point in public schools came in the 1960s with the vast influence of the Humanist John Dewey and his Columbia Teachers College acolytes, who argued against objective truth, authoritative notions of good and evil, religion and tradition. Sidney Simon's 1972 book "Values Clarification," which sold nearly 1 million copies, was widely used to teach students to "clarify" their values, i.e., cast off their parents' values and make their own choices based on situation ethics.
Then the public schools welcomed the Kinsey-trained experts to change the sexual mores of our society from favoring sex-in-marriage to diversity. Concepts of right and wrong were banished, and children were taught about varieties of sex without reference to what is moral, good or even legal.
Meanwhile, the curriculum suffered a vast dumbing down, allowing students to graduate without learning to read or calculate. U.S. history courses now inculcate the doctrines of U.S. guilt and multiculturalism instead of the greatness of our heroes and successes.
By the 1990s, public schools effectively adopted a modis operandi described by U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., as the village should raise the child. Public schools have become fortresses in which administrators exercise near-absolute power to determine the student values, morals, attitudes and hopes, while parents are kept outside the barricades.
Using activist judges to shore up their monopoly power, the schools persuaded the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to rule last year that a public school can teach students "whatever information it wishes to provide, sexual or otherwise," and that parents' right to control the upbringing of their children "does not extend beyond the threshold of the school door."
After heavy criticism in the U.S. House of Representatives, the court reaffirmed its decision but tried to soften the "threshold" sentence.
The meaning of "whatever" is spelled out in anti-parent, pro-public school decisions handed down in five circuits within the last two years. Federal courts upheld the right of public schools to indoctrinate students in Muslim religion and practices, to force students to watch a one-hour pro-homosexual video, to censor any mention of intelligent design, to use classroom materials that parents consider pornographic, to force students to answer nosy questionnaires with suggestive questions about sex and suicide, and to prohibit anti-gay T-shirts but welcome anti-Bush T-shirts.
It's not a question of whether, or if, government should define our culture. Government schools are every day defining the culture of the nation our children will live in, and they are doing it in violation of what the American people want.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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