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Schools & politics: Government control brings them together

To no one’s surprise, China uses its school textbooks to manipulate how its children think about the Chinese government, as law professor Cass Sunstein writes on the opposite page. Maybe the Chinese got the idea from us.

As public schools became the dominant educational institution in the United States, what was taught in those schools became one of the most important political topics. Governments always tried to use their power over schools to promote their own agendas.

After the Civil War, Southern states adopted textbooks that portrayed the Confederacy as a noble “lost cause.” In the 1930s, schools adopted progressive textbooks that portrayed the New Deal favorably. By the 1990s, textbooks were dominated by political correctness. Education researcher Diane Ravitch’s 2003 book “The Language Police: How Pressure Groups Restrict what students learn” detailed how textbooks were purged of any vestige of any “ism” by, for instance, reversing gender roles so that women were shown in bread-winning roles and men in domestic ones.

The PC overreach got so bad that last year a Rasmussen poll found that 59 percent of Americans said most school textbooks were more concerned with political correctness than accuracy.

Today’s fight is over Common Core, but it will not be the last. As long as the government controls what our children learn, it will always attempt some level of indoctrination.


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