Sara DoganFrontPageMagazine.com August 23, 2004
Parents disturbed by the one-sided teaching and partisan indoctrination in the nation’s secondary schools will now have a new organization to express their concerns.
Students for Academic Freedom, leader of a year-old national movement to promote intellectual diversity on America’s college campuses, has just announced the launch of a new organization – Parents and Students for Academic Freedom – whose agenda is to promote intellectual pluralism and fight political indoctrination in the nation’s primary and secondary schools.
A case that poignantly illustrates the problem of indoctrination took place at a Delaware public school last spring. An eight-year-old second grader wrote a composition saying that he wanted to be a soldier like his grandfather. “If you ever write anything like that again, you are going straight to the principal’s office,” the teacher threatened. When his parents complained, the teacher denied the incident and accused the child of making the story up. But the mother was able to confirm the story with two of the child’s classmates. The child himself was so upset that he didn’t want to return to class.
Another example occurred at a Catholic high school. During the war against the Taliban following 9/11, the administration set up a table in the cafeteria where they encouraged students to send bags of rice to President Bush to show him that the Afghan people need food, not war.
In California, “Wheels of Justice” a group organized by pro-terrorist organizations has been allowed by high school administrators to use classrooms to proselytize students with anti-Israel, anti-American agendas.
“My own U.S. history teacher instructed us that our nation’s past fears about Communism were unjustified; in fact, that capitalism had been a sinister force in the world,” reported one student, a recent graduate from Santa Monica High school. “We were told that through America’s history as a ‘terrorist nation,’ she brought upon herself the sinister attacks of 9/11.” And that same school, teachers recruited their students to anti-war demonstrations and union picket lines with the support of the school administrators.
“Partisan ideologies have no place in education at any level,” said David Horowitz, the founder and chairman of Students for Academic Freedom. “Parents and Students for Academic Freedom will remind school administrators that they must treat all children with fairness and equality, and show respect for the values that their parents have chosen to teach them.”
Parents and Students for Academic Freedom (K-12) will provide support to parents who are concerned about their children’s ability to freely express their political and religious views in the classroom, or are worried that teachers are pressuring them to adopt a particular worldview. The organization encourages parents and students to band together to create PSAF chapters which will pressure school administrators to enact safeguards which explicitly promote diversity of opinion and outlaw any attempts by faculty to indoctrinate students in a particular ideology.
The basic principles of the organization will be familiar to anyone acquainted with the tradition of academic freedom: 1) a school is an educational institution not a political party; 2) a school’s resources and educational authority should be used to further learning and the disinterested pursuit of knowledge, not to indoctrinate students in partisan political ideologies; and 3) the principles of academic freedom and a good education require that students have access to a diversity of viewpoints in courses, required reading texts, and in campus activities programs.
The inspiration for this new organization stems from the incredible response Students for Academic Freedom has received in the past year. Ever since the inauguration of the collegiate organization, SAF’s leaders have been continually besieged by parents to expand their efforts to include the primary and secondary schools, where parents report that partisan indoctrination is just as rampant.
Students for Academic Freedom has seen tremendous growth at the collegiate level in its first year of operations. The organization has inspired legislators in at least ten states and the U.S. Congress to take up the Academic Bill of Rights, and students on 135 campuses across the nation are now working to persuade their school administrations to adopt the Academic Bill of Rights and enact reforms promoting intellectual diversity on campus.
Parents and Students for Academic Freedom will also promote legislation at the state and federal level to ensure that students are protected by a Bill of Rights designed to guarantee them an education that is fair, inclusive and non-partisan. A sample resolution and contact information is available on the organization’s new website at www.psaf.org.
“America’s schools have traditionally been the cornerstones of our political democracy, and the American idea of education has always been informed by the values of fairness, inclusion, and concern for the innocence of youth,” said Horowitz. “By using their position to indoctrinate students, teachers are violating the sacred trust that we place in them to educate the next generation. Parents and Students for Academic Freedom will restore America’s educational system to its original mission.”
Sara Dogan is National Campus Director of Students for Academic Freedom.