‘Social justice’ education hurts students

Editor’s note: This first appeared on UnionWatch.org.

May 7, 2012

By Larry Sand

Last month, the drone-like National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel gave a talk at the annual gathering of the Nebraska State Education Association. The California Teachers Association is an affiliate of the NEA.

Van Roekel unleashed the same tired old class warfare hogwash that teacher union leaders have been yammering about for years. The latest version of this old whine stresses closing corporate tax loopholes. As I wrote earlier, the NEA claims the U.S. can recoup $1.5 trillion in taxes if those greedy corporate types would just pay their “fair share.” Van Roekel conveniently omits the fact that NEA took in $400 million in 2010-2011, mostly in dues forcibly taken from its members, and didn’t pay one red cent in taxes.

Van Roekel then reprised another union mantra — claiming that NEA must pursue “social justice.” He said,

“You can’t have an organization with our core values and not care about social justice.”

“You can’t have a democracy and not care about social justice, whether it’s discrimination based on race or religion or sexual orientation, discrimination is discrimination and it’s wrong. And we as an organization have to stand up and say that.”

The subject of social justice — its history and damage that it has caused — could fill volumes. But here is an abridged version:

Social justice (SJ) is based on the concepts of human rights and egalitarianism, and involves fostering economic equality through progressive taxation along with income and property redistribution. Around since the late 19th Century, this philosophy made its foray into education in the early part of the 20th Century when John Dewey, a progressive, and his socialist partner, George Counts, challenged teachers to replace the development of each student’s individual talents with a focus on social justice.

The bedrocks of American culture and our economy — capitalism, individualism and competition — were frowned upon, to be replaced with distributive egalitarianism, collectivism and statism. Also paramount to the SJ movement was the socialization of children. Historically, schools had partnered with parents in reinforcing the values of the family. But over time, progressive educators came to assume a disproportionate role.

National philosophy

The progressive philosophy soon became part of the national zeitgeist with even President of the United States, Woodrow Wilson, getting into the act. He said in a speech in 1914, “I have often said that the use of a university is to make young gentlemen as unlike their fathers as possible.” (Bold added.)

The effect of the SJ movement on education cannot be exaggerated. The changes were not dramatic at first, but over the years, SJ picked up steam. By the 1960s, SJ had become mainstream, especially in our nation’s colleges. University professors who spouted this poison did much damage, as many college students of that period became the tenured radicals who still infest our schools of higher education — most notably in the social science and education departments. And therefore today, our future teachers sit at the feet of ed school professors who teach them more about how to indoctrinate students than to prepare them for the more traditional “participation in public life as well as success in private life.”

As a result, in our elementary schools, instead of learning basic skills and the real history of the country, students are all too often taught nonsense like anti-racist math and that America is evil and can be saved only by a litany of progressive “isms” — environmentalism, feminism, socialism, etc. Several months ago, I reviewed Kyle Olson’s excellent book, “Indoctrination: How ‘Useful Idiots’ Are Using Our Schools to Subvert American Exceptionalism,” which documents how public schools today are being used to turn children away from the ideals that have made this country extraordinary.

Political activism

By the time American students finish their K-12 indoctrination, they are primed for the big finale – the university. The seeds that were planted in the elementary schools come to a hideous bloom in college. Last month, the non-partisan California Association of Scholars came out with a scathing report, “A Crisis of Competence: The Corrupting Effect of Political Activism in the University of California.” In his review of it, Peter Berkowitz wrote,

“The analysis begins from a nonpolitical fact: Numerous studies of both the UC system and of higher education nationwide demonstrate that students who graduate from college are increasingly ignorant of history and literature. They are unfamiliar with the principles of American constitutional government. And they are bereft of the skills necessary to comprehend serious books and effectively marshal evidence and argument in written work.”

Excluding from the curriculum those ideas that depart from the progressive agenda implicitly teaches students that conservative ideas are contemptible and unworthy of discussion. This exclusion, the California report points out, also harms progressives for the reason John Stuart Mill elaborated in his famous 1859 essay, “On Liberty”: “He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.”

Unfortunately, while many Americans do not ascribe to SJ tenets, too many of us are ignorant of its agenda or have become apathetic to its dangers. In 2009, admitted terrorist Bill “Mad Bomber” Ayers co-edited the “Handbook of Social Justice in Education,” a 792 page “Hate America First” manifesto which brazenly instructs teachers how to spread the collectivist dream to America’s children. As many of us emit a collective yawn, the poisoning of young minds continues unimpeded.

Is it any wonder that the “Occupy” movement is saturated with young people who, beyond a few clichés, cannot articulate what exactly it is that they are demonstrating against? They just know that some people have more money than other people and that’s just not fair. The regnant attitude is, “If you’re rich and I’m not, you owe me.”  If Dennis Van Roekel and his ideological comrades have their way, the dumbing down and radicalizing of American youth will ultimately destroy the very foundation of this society. But hey — everyone will be equal, all right — equally miserable.

About the author: Larry Sand, a former classroom teacher, is the president of the non-profit California Teachers Empowerment Network — a non-partisan, non-political group dedicated to providing teachers with reliable and balanced information about professional affiliations and positions on educational issues.

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  1. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 7 May, 2012, 12:59

    The ‘social justice’ slogan cuts both ways and is really a phrase that’s been hijacked. The overriding theme re: ‘social justice’ should relate to prohibiting the government to steal from it’s citizens to satisfy it’s insatiable drive to spend other people’s money and push spending beyond the limits of society’s ability to pay for it.

    But I agree with Van Roekel that corporations are undertaxed and sometimes given tax breaks that are borderline criminal. We’ve seen a display of that repeated over and over again with the Too Big To Fails that literally ransacked and plundered the ordinary American citizen.

    But before taxes are raised on corporations the spending needs to get chopped off at it’s knees. The waste, fraud and corruption that we see perpetrated by the political trash in DC and Sactown in conjuction with the public unions and crony capitalists is beyond a civilized description.

    If I were king we would have ZERO deficit spending. If we couldn’t pay for it as the expense was incurred – we simply would discontinue the service. I don’t give a damn if the soldiers don’t get paid or if the welfare crowd has to get in line at the soup kitchen. All the goons must lock themselves in a room – decide how much revenue we have – and adjust spending accordingly. Not next year or by year 2020 – NOW!

    THAT is the ONLY solution. The cliff only gets closer and closer based upon the direction this country is headed today!

    Reply this comment
  2. NorCal Libertarian
    NorCal Libertarian 7 May, 2012, 17:10

    THere are THOSE WORDS again….”Social Justice” which is one of the common phrases used in almost every one of the 40 chapters of that insidious anti-American program called United Nations Agenda 21!
    You’re probably familiar with others like “Smart Growth”, “Sustainability”,
    “Wildlands Project”, “Healthy Cities”….yadi-yada-yada!!!

    Reply this comment
  3. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 7 May, 2012, 18:00

    Diverting a bit to ‘social injustice’ did anyone happen to see the video and hear the audio of the Kelly Thomas fatal beating by the cops? In one word, B-R-U-T-A-L. Never thought I’d see such police abuse in the United State of America. But I have seen more and more of these incidents caught on camera in the last couple years. Like gestapo tactics. Alarming. Civilized society is disintegrating before our very eyes.

    Reply this comment
  4. Dean Berry Ministries
    Dean Berry Ministries 8 May, 2012, 09:11

    The same “Americans” who approve of the police pepper spraying, beating, and imprisoning OWS for exercising their right to peacefully protest will also be turning in Real Patriots who battle the emerging communism in America (http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20120052-503544.html). The world has seen all this before. In colonial America most colonists believed the British propaganda about our Forefathers being crazies and terrorists. They helped the Red Coats capture many of them. In communist Russia, informers and government laplickers were everywhere. Ditto for Nazi Germany. Their kind will do anything to ingratiate themselves to the authorities and save their own skins. These people try to convince us THEY’RE the real patriots because they “stand behind America”, but they’re just the opposite. America wouldn’t be descending into communism if it weren’t for their stupidity. REMEMBER, COMMUNISTS AND NAZIS DON’T PUT PEOPLE AWAY FOR TELLING LIES, IT’S FOR TELLING THE TRUTH. Finally, OWS and RON PAUL’S GENUINE ORIGINAL TEA PARTY have one very important thing in common: They both know the “jewish” bankers are behind most of the world’s economic, political, and social problems and have been for a very long time (http://www.iamthewitness.com/DarylBradfordSmith_Rothschild.htm).

    DEAN BERRY MINISTRIES: “When a government outlaws ‘terrorism’, it’s planning something for which ‘terrorism’ is the only recourse. Obviously.”

    Reply this comment
  5. Rex The Wonder Dog!
    Rex The Wonder Dog! 8 May, 2012, 09:39

    Finally, OWS and RON PAUL’S GENUINE ORIGINAL TEA PARTY have one very important thing in common: They both know the “jewish” bankers are behind most of the world’s economic, political, and social problems and have been for a very long time

    Hey loser, will you take your loser ethnicity hate and bias somewhere else.

    Reply this comment
  6. queeg
    queeg 8 May, 2012, 10:16

    Lighten up. You tolerate lots of vile denegrating posts on this site against the military, police, Mormons, women in leadership posts and gay people without one word to try and stop these ugly posts so unbecoming in a decent news site.

    Reply this comment
  7. queeg
    queeg 8 May, 2012, 10:27

    And the anti-religion tirades and bashings are deplorable…how can the owners of this site condone giving a platform to bigots!


    Reply this comment
  8. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 8 May, 2012, 11:14

    “And the anti-religion tirades and bashings are deplorable…how can the owners of this site condone giving a platform to bigots!”

    People in America have the right to trashtalk religions if they choose…. it’s one of those tricky little constitutional rights called ‘freedom of expression’. You are free to join any religion of your choosing and the next man has the UNALIENABLE right that cannot be taken away and is guaranteed by the Constitution to criticize that religion. That is the basis of America. Other nations punish or even kill citizens who criticize political or religious systems. Perhaps you would be more comfortable living in one of those nations. You can find the airline fares on internet.

    Reply this comment
  9. LGMike
    LGMike 8 May, 2012, 11:14

    “Social Justice” not only hurts the children, but a large number of the employees in our school system. Teachers are subject to the mandates of federal, state, and local government agencies and their ideas of social justice rather than education of the students. This is why student test scores, actual learning of basic concepts in language, math, history, arts, and geography are failing both our current and future leaders. If all the states were to become a “right to work” state, then the “employer” would then become a boss instead of a rubber stamp when decisions regarding hiring, salaries, benefits, and what is being taught. If a person did not have to join a “union” to be part of a system, then the “unions” might actually have to earn the right to represent a person. Union management should be a part time voluntary position with no salary or benefits other than what they normally get from the employer (expenses associated with their election by members should be presented and voted on). Teachers don’t have the time or in many cases the desire to replace that which a parent should be doing.

    Reply this comment
  10. queeg
    queeg 8 May, 2012, 11:25

    Religion should be tolerated. It obvious this site condones bashing religion….

    Reply this comment
  11. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 8 May, 2012, 11:54

    “Religion should be tolerated. It obvious this site condones bashing religion…”

    This site does tolerate religion. Lots of people have freely discussed their religious beliefs on this site. A mark of condoning LIBERTY and FREEDOM also means tolerating a man’s inclination to criticize a religion. That FREEDOM is just as important as a man’s right to discuss his religious beliefs.

    Didn’t you ever learn this simple principles as a boy or a teenager in high school?

    Reply this comment
  12. queeg
    queeg 8 May, 2012, 12:14

    The site attracts vile attacks on religion, women, gays, Mormons. Jews. No doubt we are past pure site administration oversite….it appears this site has problems with equal opportunity and pursuit of freedom and happiness.

    Reply this comment
  13. Beelzebub
    Beelzebub 8 May, 2012, 12:18

    “The site attracts vile attacks on religion, women, gays, Mormons. Jews. No doubt we are past pure site administration oversite….it appears this site has problems with equal opportunity and pursuit of freedom and happiness”

    I disagree with everything you just said. But I want to offer you an option. If you dislike this site so much BLOCK the CWD address from your browser. Don’t come here. I, for one, won’t miss you. In fact, I welcome your departure. That’s my personal opinion.

    Reply this comment
  14. Edward Rasen
    Edward Rasen 15 May, 2012, 21:57

    I no learn nuttin’ in school cuz I no speak a de inglishe. but, okay me, i learn inglishe in college. muchas gracias meester govnoor brownie for free classes. i like you very much.

    Reply this comment

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