The older version of indoctrination in the U.S. had a common purpose — Americanization.
As James A. Michener explains in This Noble Land, after discussing how a school day always began with the Pledge of Allegiance and patriotic song, “In those days the indoctrination of children began at age six and continued daily for the next twelve years. I have often thought back on that simpler time and concluded that it is better for a child to have some strong moral and social beliefs rather than none at all, even though his indoctrination may have been chauvinistic, muddled or even erroneous. Later he can correct error, but if he has allegiance to nothing he has nothing to work on in his later reeducation.”
Maybe my humor is warped but I find his muse amusing.
I find no humor in the indoctrination that we are talking about today that holds a very different meaning. To indoctrinate is “to teach” which in the case of Americanization meant to teach foreigners English, U.S. history, government, and culture. And one reason (need, really) for compulsory free public schools was the sudden, large influx of immigrants.
Today, with Common Core and the control of curriculum being ambushed by it, but not fully and publicly being questioned nationally, indoctrination of a political point of view is what we are obligated to protect children against.
Crisis: a turning point in the course of anything; decisive or crucial time; a time of great danger or trouble, whose outcome decides whether possible bad consequences will follow. With the term “crisis” thus defined, has the public education system been in a crisis? Hell yes! And repeatedly!
And for those that have been paying attention to “education reform” for more than a decade or two, you understand why I reference the “Groundhog Day” phenomenon — the déjà vu feeling of having to wake each day and repeat the same scene over-and-over. Well, the Bill Murray character in the movie was on a cakewalk compared to the real nightmare of decades upon decades of debate about whether or not public education is in a true crisis.
“Whose outcome decides whether possible bad consequences will follow”— please, think about it. How many times have you heard, especially in relationship to No Child Left Behind, that there were unintended consequences?
What Can We Do?
In the American Education Reform War, one side defines the crisis as mediocre international test scores while the other side claims there is no crisis at all. Meanwhile, around kitchen tables there are mothers, fathers, grandparents, and students fretting about and struggling with problems related to education. Many times these same people have solutions that can’t be done without the cooperation of the public education system. And without support and help, they know what the consequences will be. These people face a crisis. The system is not responding to them.
Told by spokespeople for our representatives, reporters in Idaho are repeating the “fact” that the portion of the immigration bill giving citizenship to highly skilled immigrants in order to fill jobs Americans can’t (?) do is not controversial. I repeat (as they have multiple times in print and on air), there is no controversy. Really? There should be!
At Our Own Risk!
The following was originally published in Idaho as a letter to the editor in 2011:
Easing visa restrictions for high-skill immigrants is necessary according to Representative Labrador [ ID] and his American Innovation and Education Act. The problem he targets is “to help people who have offers of employment but face a [immigration] processing backlog…” He claims it will help domestic students. Those closely associated with efforts to improve our STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) education in this country have heard similar verbiage for over a decade.
Congress won’t address problems they created through No Child Left Behind so we need to import talent that we failed to cultivate in our own country. They see a “brain drain”; I think it’s more of a loyalty drain.
This country messed up a perfectly good public education system and took down three generations of students in the process. We feel no obligation to make things right?