One of the advantages of having a blog is that you get to rant once in a while. I try not to do it too much, but I ran across something the other day that I thought needed a response.
There is a report on the internet entitled “Bias and Indoctrination in the Iowa Core Curriculum.” It is put out by something called the “American Principles Project” and something called “Preserve Innocence, a Project of American Principles.”
The thesis of the report is that the Iowa Core Curriculum is somehow indoctrinating students with values we don’t want our children to have.
The Iowa Core Curriculum is available online—I looked through it and while I found a few things I might quibble with, it seems like a reasonable approach to compare and standardize what individual schools are teaching in their classes.
I did find a lot of things I would argue with in the “Indoctrination” report, however. To quote from it (leaving out the silly brackets and footnotes):
“In the ‘Life Science’ section, one of the listed Essential Concepts is for students to ‘understand and demonstrate knowledge of the social and personal implications of environmental issues.’ This directive (which applies to students of all grades) is followed by the emphasis that ‘Chapter 12 of the Iowa Administrative Code states that science instruction shall include conservation of natural resources, and environmental awareness.’ The Core Curriculum then directs that students be taught that ‘all organisms cause changes in the environment in which they live’ and that ‘humans change environments in ways that can be either beneficial or detrimental to themselves or other organisms’
While this may initially seem like a minor point, the net effect of this lesson, when combined with the recommended science activities, is to indoctrinate even young children in the basic principles of liberal environmentalism. For example, suggested activities include: having students debate whether to abandon nuclear reactors because of the waste issues; use candy (like M&Ms or Skittles) as part of a model for nuclear decay, then explain the environmental concerns associated with nuclear waste storage; discuss the advantages of owning a hybrid car, examine the environmental impact (particularly the carbon dioxide emissions) of a coal-fired power plant near a major forest; determine their own carbon footprint; research the health effects of nitrate levels related to global carbon dioxide levels and burning fossil fuels; and use predictions about global climate change to predict the possible impact of global warming on Iowa’s money crops and economy.
Nor is the political aspect of global climate change ignored. The Essential Concepts include teaching students that:
Human destruction of habitats through direct harvesting, pollution, atmospheric changes, and other factors are threatening current global stability, and if not addressed, ecosystems will be irreversible affected.
…It even encourages students to take political action by speaking at a city council meeting about additional run-off created by a new addition to their town.
Some language echoes population control positions held by the more extreme elements of the environmental lobby, as students are taught another ‘Essential Concept’ that humans modify ecosystems as a result of population growth, technology, and consumption.’
…Unfortunately, many of the Core Curriculum’s efforts at connecting science with society and students’ lives feed directly into politicized teaching. The suggestion for students to engage in political activism, even about a seemingly innocuous subject, further encourages intrusion into the parental prerogative to direct their children’s political formation. Science curricula should not conflate fact with theory or with political agenda. And it should give due deference to parents as being the principal and primary director of their children’s values formation.”
How do you rebut an argument that is so blatantly stupid? That teaching students about the environment is somehow driven by an extreme political agenda? All I can say is that notion is idiotic.
If I looked hard enough I could probably find stuff I disagree with in Iowa’s Core Curriculum. But this argument against it is awful.
I want my kids to be able to represent their own interests politically. I think my children will have good values. Certainly denying them the truth will not improve their values. I would like my kids to engage in the political process. I am not going direct my children’s political formation, but I would like them to be informed and be able to represent their own interests.
Please, save us from this extreme “American Principles” philosophy.