Political Ignorance

Public Education as Public Indoctrination

A New York Times study describes how both red and blue states use public education to indoctrinate students in their preferred ideologies. This dynamic should dampen hopes that public education can fix the problem of widespread political ignorance.

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

Dana Goldstein of New York Times has an interesting article describing how state governments in both liberal California and conservative Texas work to skew school textbooks in favor of their preferred ideologies. Despite their differences, both seek to indoctrinate students rather than present facts in any sort of evenhanded way:

The textbooks cover the same sweeping story, from the brutality of slavery to the struggle for civil rights. The self-evident truths of the founding documents to the waves of immigration that reshaped the nation.

The books have the same publisher. They credit the same authors. But they are customized for students in different states, and their contents sometimes diverge in ways that reflect the nation's deepest partisan divides.

Hundreds of differences — some subtle, others extensive — emerged in a New York Times analysis of eight commonly used American history textbooks in California and Texas, two of the nation's largest markets.

In a country that cannot come to a consensus on fundamental questions — how restricted capitalism should be, whether immigrants are a burden or a boon, to what extent the legacy of slavery continues to shape American life — textbook publishers are caught in the middle. On these questions and others, classroom materials are not only shaded by politics, but are also helping to shape a generation of future voters….

Requests from textbook review panels, submitted in painstaking detail to publishers, show the sometimes granular ways that ideology can influence the writing of history.

A California panel asked the publisher McGraw-Hill to avoid the use of the word "massacre" when describing 19th-century Native American attacks on white people. A Texas panel asked Pearson to point out the number of clergy who signed the Declaration of Independence, and to state that the nation's founders were inspired by the Protestant Great Awakening….

Texas policymakers feel strongly about giving students a positive view of the American economy; since 1995, state law has required that high school economics courses offer an "emphasis on the free enterprise system and its benefits." That emphasis seems to have made its way into the history curriculum as well.

California's curriculum materials, by contrast, sometimes read like a brief from a Bernie Sanders rally. "The yawning gap between the haves and have-nots and what is to be done about it is one of the great questions of this time," says the state's 2016 social studies framework.

As a result, California textbooks are more likely to celebrate unionism, critique the concentration of wealth and focus on how industry pollutes the environment.

As the article notes, California and Texas are far from unique. Other state governments make similar efforts to use school curricula to promote their ideologies.

These findings should not surprise anyone familiar with the history of public education. From the very beginning, one of its main purposes was indoctrination in the dominant ideology of the day. In nineteenth-century Europe, the goal was often to indoctrinate the population in nationalism. In the US, it was to indoctrinate European immigrants—many of whom were Catholic or Jewish—in what were seen as genuine American values, which at the time incorporated much of the then-dominant versions of Protestantism.

Today, the goals of public-school indoctrination have shifted somewhat. But the fact of it persists.

This state of affairs throws cold water on the popular notion that we can use public education to solve the problem of widespread political ignorance. In principle, we might be able to increase voter knowledge of government and public policy by improving the school curriculum and requiring a high level of knowledge as a prerequisite to graduation. But, in practice, state education officials are usually more interested in inculcating students with their own preferred ideologies than in presenting facts objective or increasing political knowledge across the board. They especially aren't interested in combating the partisan and ideological bias that infects many voters' judgement of political issues, especially in our highly polarized era. To the contrary, they often seek to exacerbate that bias by promoting the agenda of Team Red or Team Blue (depending on who controls the state government in question).

Of course, school officials might take a different approach if voters closely monitored school curricula and refused to reelect politicians who use public school curricula for purposes of indoctrination. But if voters were that knowledgeable and that free of bias, we would not have a problem of political ignorance in the first place!

The prevalence of efforts at indoctrination is likely one of the reasons why levels of political knowledge have been largely stagnant (and low) over the last sixty years, even though the average adult American today has several years more education than was the case in 1960.

Some reformers propose to fix the problem by having one centralized set of education standards for the entire nation. Then, California would no longer be free to promote left-wing indoctrination in its schools, and Texas would no longer be able to inflict the conservative version on its students. But centralization could easily make things worse rather than better. In the status quo, liberal bias in blue state schools is to some degree balanced by conservative bias in red states, and vice versa. With a single centralized national curriculum, any bias it includes would have a nationwide impact on public-school students around the country, and there would be no counterweight to it, except perhaps among the relatively small minority of students (about 10%) who attend private schools.

One oft-overlooked argument for school choice is that it would make systematic indoctrination of schoolchildren more difficult. The danger of uniform nation-wide indoctrination is the main reason why John Stuart Mill opposed state control of schools, even though he favored government subsidization of education for those unable to afford it. He warned that "[a] general State education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation, in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body." Mill may have overestimated the degree to which such indoctrination is effective, but he was right to fear that it would happen, and right to worry that it is inimical to genuine efforts to increase public knowledge.

While many private schools no doubt have ideological biases of their own, a voucher system with competing private schools would make it harder to impose one dominant ideology on all or most students simultaneously. Privatization would make it far more difficult to impose a single orthodoxy throughout the nation, or throught all the schools in one state.

Moreover, some private schools try to make a genuine effort to present a range of different views on political issues, and others might promote views that do not align neatly with the current left-right political spectrum. That would increase the overall  ideological diversity  of the education system, even if many individual schools were not ideologically diverse internally. It would be a nice example of Heather Gerken's notion of "second-order diversity," under which homogeneity in individual institutions can help increase the overall diversity of the system, and widen the range of options available to people "voting with their feet."

The prevalence of indoctrination is just one of several reasons why using public education to overcome political ignorance is far more difficult than many people think. I discuss both this problem and other obstacles in greater detail in Chapter 7 of my book Democracy and Political Ignorance.

UPDATE: I have made a few minor additions to this post.

NEXT: Marianne Williamson Withdraws from the Presidential Race

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I’m surprised you don’t also mention the home-schooled minority, both because homeschooling is mostly practiced as a way to evade indoctrination with which the parents disagree, and because the right to homeschool lacks protection in some states and countries (for instance, it is banned in Germany).

    Some states allow home schooling but try to limit its effect by insisting on the use of state-approved textbooks or licensed teachers.

    1. By “effect,” you mean ineffective instruction by people who are not equipped to teach on these subjects.

      I mean, I always find it funny when people who earned Cs and Ds in school announce that they are going to homeschool their children. Yes, yes, you should definitely be in charge of explaining the subject matter. At least by selecting the textbooks, the state has a better shot of having kids introduced to the correct concepts.

      1. I bet when you look at the GPAs of America’s teachers, they weren’t 4.0 students either.

        1. From my graduating high school class, the top went on to be engineers, the middle became teachers or joined the military.
          I would honestly be scared to have my kids taught by some of those classmates.

          1. The labor market with teachers has three big issues. Good teachers don’t get paid more than bad teachers, bad teachers don’t tend to get fired for incompetence, and hard to find teacher skillsets (math, algebra) are paid the same as easier to find teacher skillsets (gym).

            When you combine these, with the facts that there are a lot of average IQ women who want a pension, a safe job, a 10 month work year, a (lower) middle class paycheck, and a job that works with their own child care, you’re never going to get the kind of labor market where B and C students from mid-tier state universities dominate the profession.

        2. No, but they at least got into and completed college.

          Now, I’ll grant you that college is often more of a war of attrition than an academically rigorous endeavor. But people who manage to complete that process, then compete for a job, are still generally going to be a better option than someone who couldn’t get into college or couldn’t complete the process.

          And again, we’re not banning home schooling, only requiring that they use appropriate textbooks. The claim that state boards are doing it for indoctrination purposes is ludicrous.

          1. “But people who manage to complete that process, then compete for a job, are still generally going to be a better option than someone who couldn’t get into college or couldn’t complete the process.”

            I used to believe this too, in that validated my own time/effort/money for going to college. Lately, I’m not so sure after decades of experience in the working world, when combined with studies showing that most all college students do not improve their writing and critical thinking in 4 years of study.

            If we had pre-employment tests in more fields, we could do away with quite a bit of the “college as a proxy” bit that you note.

          2. 1. Even your tepid defense of the intellectual/academic capability of the average teacher is overrated.

            2. With neither evidence nor reason, you assume that homeschoolers have not and could not complete college. A 2016 survey National Household Education Surveys Program showed that parental education levels were not statistically significantly different between homeschooled families and all families. My personal experience is that many homeschoolers
            actually have education degrees but choose not to teach and many of the remainder have advanced degrees, often in hard sciences and other fields quite a bit more competitive than education.

            But of course you must have more than mere bigotry for your original comment, David. Can you provide your own citation, please, showing the academic credentials of homeschoolers?

  2. Yet no comment on Trump’s win in court re: border wall. I at least expected an analysis as to how badly the court got it wrong.

    But I guess when you’re beat, you’re beat.

    1. I’m sorry; what does that have to do with this thread?

      1. Nothing. It has nothing to do with this thread.

        It is an observation that Somin crows when courts rule against Trump, but he has had over 2 days to figure out how to spin this outcome. He opts, however, to beat on the drum of political ignorance.

        Guess he knows that he is well and truly beaten.

        1. Ok so you acknowledge being a troll who wants to hijack this thread.

          1. It’s a valid point: Ilya is quick to tout lower court rulings that favor him, he is not nearly as quick to engage with the higher court rulings that, typically, overturn them.

            This isn’t monstrous, it’s just a normal human failing. But it’s worth noting.

        2. What wall are you taking about? The Trump project is just repairing or replacing existing barriers. There is nothing new. It is all a fraud on the Trump voters. Besides, the Trumps are most interested in doing business with the IRGC.

  3. Even in the red state of Texas, the teaching/education profession is heavily dominate with propgressives/ liberals.

    1. Hence the school boards which reverse the elimination of some topics.

    2. Joe, assuming you’re right, why do you think that is? Could it be that the personality traits that make someone want to be a teacher — a willingness to do public service for less than great wages, a curiosity about the world, a desire to learn about the world, a realization that there is more to the world than than just one’s parochial neighborhood — are personality traits more commonly associated with liberals than with conservatives? Come to think of it, maybe that’s why journalists are more likely to be liberal too.

      1. Those who can do, those who can’t teach.

        An average Education majors have below average SAT scores along with Public Administration, and Parks and Recreation majors.

        1. What your missing is that that those who can’t teach go into engineering and business. It a two way street. The teacher may not be as smart as the engineer but they have ability to transfer knowledge that some in other professions lack. I think your comment betrays that subtle prejudice we have against those who teach. We or our children have all had bad teachers, but we and our children have all had good teachers we really appreciate.

          1. A subtle prejudice against a system that does little to weed out the bad teachers and reward the good ones.

          2. I think your comment betrays that subtle prejudice we have against those who teach.

            What’s “subtle” about “only idiots become teachers”?

      2. Unless you think personality traits abruptly changed about 20 years ago, that’s not it. I’ve seen graphs of the partisan composition of university faculty, for instance, and while they’ve trended a bit leftwards all along, about 2000 the percentage of right-wingers started taking a nose dive. Apparently about then, or a bit earlier, the universities studied just stopped hiring conservatives, and the number of conservatives has been dropping by attrition ever since.

        No, it’s more a matter of the march through the institutions, than personality traits.

        1. Brett, I went to school in the 50s and 60s and conservatives were bemoaning the leftist educational system even then. It’s basically a conservative meme — like Trump’s “fake news” meme — and nothing more. That way, when facts don’t support conservative ideology, they can just say “Oh, it’s that leftist educators again.”

          1. So, let’s disregard the survey data that shows most professors are Democrats and leftists, based on your anecdotal experience?

            1. Brett didn’t link to the survey, and I haven’t seen it, so I’m not going to assume that either the survey or Brett’s representations as to what it says are gospel. Maybe they are, but I’d like to see the actual survey first.

              Even if it does say that, that still leaves unanswered my original question of why that would be the case.

              1. It’s common knowledge these days, it’s sort of like saying “Japan bombed Pearl Harbor” and it shouldn’t be necessary to link to evidence.

                That said here is one such strong piece of evidence: “We investigate the voter registration of faculty at 40 leading U.S. universities in the fields of Economics, History, Journalism/Communications, Law, and Psychology. We looked up 7,243 professors and found 3,623 to be registered Democratic and 314 Republican, for an overall D:R ratio of 11.5:1. The D:R ratios for the five fields were: Economics 4.5:1, History 33.5:1, Journalism/Communications 20.0:1, Law 8.6:1, and Psychology 17.4:1. The results indicate that D:R ratios have increased since 2004, and the age profile suggests that in the future they will be even higher. We provide a breakdown by department at each university. The data support the established finding that D:R ratios are highest at the apex of disciplinary pyramids, that is, at the most prestigious departments.”

                https://econjwatch.org/articles/faculty-voter-registration-in-economics-history-journalism-communications-law-and-psychology

                1. If I had a dollar for everything that’s “common knowledge these days” that’s wrong, I could buy myself an island in the Mediterranean and retire. Which is why asking to see data is always a good idea.

                  In this case, given that the Republicans have been doing everything they can to undermine public education, it’s not surprising that most teachers are registered Democrats, but being a Democrat and being a leftist is not the same thing. There are plenty of centrist Democrats. There are even some who are socially conservative. Democrats are no more monolithic than any other group.’

                  However, you still haven’t answered my original question. For purposes of this discussion, assume that all teachers are Marxists. Now, assuming that to be true, why do you think that is? Why are teachers more likely to be leftists, if in fact they are?

                  1. “…given that the Republicans have been doing everything they can to undermine public education..”

                    There’s no evidence for such a bold, bold claim.

                    Your moving the goalposts, I was responding point Brett was making was about leftist/democrat teachers with solid evidence of such. But if you must know, about 18% of college professors are blatant Marxists. How many grade/high school teachers are Marxists, I suspect about as high, but it’s hard to say and I’m not going to take the time to look.

                    As for your question about the direction of causality, I presume it flows both ways and for various reasons. Once you are a teacher, you’re going more likely to be with the Democrats due to teacher unions and trying to protect that pension, and likewise, pro-union democrats will have less hesitation with being a teacher. But you’re missing the big picture here. Teachers are mostly women, and women are more democrat than men. If you can explain why most teachers are women, you can explain mostly why teachers are more democrat than republican.

                    1. So much to unpack here.

                      If you look at budgets in Republican states, you see that whenever the GOP wants to make cuts, schools are one of the first places they look at. And there’s the nonstop anti-public-schools rhetoric that if you want to read samples of, simply continue down this very thread.

                      I’m not moving the goalposts so much as re-orienting them to you changing the subject. Women are in fact more Democrat than men are — my hyperconservative grandfather opposed giving them the vote for that very reason — so why is *that*? Is it because women tend to care more about fairness and men tend to care more about winning? Be very careful where you take this conversation; you may not like the results.

                    2. So much to unpack here, eh? Whenever someone says that, it’s a dead giveaway that they are not able to stay on point.

                      First, the majority of state budgets are medical benefits, incarceration, and education. You hunt where the ducks are. If there are meaningful budget cuts, you’re limited to pretty much one of three areas. Second, don’t conflate cuts to higher ed as cuts to “teachers”, they are two separate policy decisions. Third, being pro-school choice does not mean you’re cutting education. From their perspective, they are expanding it.

                      As for men and women’s voting proclivities, please, you’re not Yoda, don’t try to play a sage. Women are a lot of things on average more than men, and vice versa, but more “fair” they are not. More agreeable on the Big Five personality traits, and I believe more empathetic (why they go into nursing more than men for example) but women are not, and never have been, more “fair” than men.

                    3. I didn’t say women are more fair than men; I said they care more about fairness than men do. That’s a subtle but very significant difference. Polling data proves it. On fairness issues like income inequality, minority equal rights, and universal health care, there is a clear distinction between men and women. it’s not 100%, and women don’t always practice what they preach, but in terms of caring about fairness issues, that trend is clearly there.

                      And this is a bit of a generalization, but in general I think it’s also true that one of the differences between liberals and conservatives is that liberals care more about fairness. When polling is done on anti-democratic institutions like the electoral college or gerrymandered House seats, in general the conservative approach is “those institutions help us win elections so I’m for them” whereas the liberal approach is “those institutions aren’t fair to the majority so I’m against them.” If the shoe were on the other foot — if the electoral college were helping Democrats keep the White House despite losing the popular vote — you might see some shifting, but at that point I think in general you’d have conservatives opposing it because it makes it harder for them to win, and liberals still opposing it because it’s unfair to the majority.

                    4. Hes a teacher, and hes butthurt. Teaching is a field for mediocre women.

    3. That’s a point I was going to make.

      To start with, it’s 95% the same indoctrination, because, “red” state, “blue” state, they’re both the State, and most of the indoctrination is statist in nature.

      It’s also 95% the same indoctrination, because the “red” states don’t have enough detailed control to keep a profession that’s mostly left-wing in check. For instance, here in S.C., the legislature voted to get out of “common core”, and hired some professionals to draft a state education standard.

      Those education professionals had a laugh, and then created a state standard that was indistinguishable from common core.

      1. So what you’re saying is that South Carolina legislators are both (A) incompetent to hire people that will actually do what they want, and (B) incompetent to recognize that their hired workers didn’t do what they want?

        If so, I’m not sure it’s teachers that are the problem.

        1. Or (c) did exactly what the legislature wanted, which is to allow them to tell their constituents that they got rid of “common core,” while still preserving what the educators believe to be the best educational goals.

          Because honestly, I’ve asked the fervent anti-common core people posting on social media to explain what’s bad about it, and I still have no idea why they are complaining. [And no, people, this isn’t an invitation to hijack the thread.]

          1. So your alternative from “the legislators are incompetent” is that the legislators are liars and their constituents are gullible rubes?

            Still don’t see how the problem is the teachers.

  4. Government education is mostly only a solution for people on government schools’ payroll. They have leverage and they get paychecks. No one else in the system has much leverage, so any other needs are addressed poorly or not at all. It’s a system built to use students, not to serve them.

    Government schools (in the US) have students like ranchers have cattle.

  5. It’s a good thing I remember damn little from the “social studies” high school courses I took. I imagine I’m not alone among your readers in that respect. Those courses didn’t “indoctrinate” me so much as required me to parrot stuff that was in the readings, which I promptly forgot soon after the final exam.

  6. There’s a lot to disentangle here, but one of the largest ones is this….

    What’s the difference between “indoctrination” and “solving ignorance?” And a lot of that is in the eye of the beholder, and the viewpoint presented.

    Was it the “colonization” or the “invasion” (or the “salvation”) of the new world? Depends on the viewpoint. A reasonable argument can be made for any of these three viewpoints.

    In revising a historical curriculum, is that due to ideology indoctrination, or new data? Is reversing a historical curriculum change back to the old standard ideological indoctrination, or just reversing such indoctrination?

    We’ve all got separate viewpoints here. I think a diversity of viewpoints is useful. However, as a nation, I think a certain baseline knowledge is critical, so we start from the same place. That can be followed by diversification, but basic civics, law, and such form a basis for a society.

    1. Wherever diversity is introduced competence disappears.

      1. Great comentariat we’ve gathered here. Much rationality.

        1. But it’s good white rationality.

      2. True; once you showed up the average IQ here dropped substantially.

      3. There is nothing wrong with diversity, but diversity for diversities sale leads to mediocrity. Focus on picking the best then you are much more likely to reach your goal, focus on good enough with a proper mix of black brown white asian CIS, trans, gay then you are more likely to reach that goal than excellence in your primary goal.

        1. Actually, studies show that diversity creates better intellectual outcomes and creativity.

          Diversity measures also force us to look at cohorts who our supposed meritocracy has neglected but who may have talented individuals.

          1. Openness to diversity may have that effect, quotas to be reached regardless of the available candidates does not.

          2. Could you post a link to one of the studies that you’re citing?

            That’s a legit query, not a snarky response. Reason I’m asking, is that when organizations stop selecting on technical competence, either for diversity or nepotism, etc. they tend to decline. In short, diversity is fine, provided it’s an unintended consequence of selecting on skill rather than the motivation. There is a reason that the NBA and NFL are 2/3 black but the (fill in the blank) is not.

            1. Google it, m_k. I did, and found too many to really pick from. Innovation, creativity…

              Competence is a threshold metric. After that you get into some qualitative business that I believe is very badly captured by our current meritocracy scheme.

              1. What you’re finding, when you do an internet search is engaging in confirmation bias. You make the claim, and provide something substantive. Link to just one, the best, and I’ll read it provided it’s not 50 pages or something. And don’t tell me that you would be doing my homework for me, because that would be lazy snark.

    2. “Solving ignorance” is such a funny phrase. No one knows everything, or even 1% of everything. Everyone is massively ignorant about almost everything.

      Indoctrination only implants a tiny fraction of what people know. Reducing ignorance by .0001% is not very significant.

      Perhaps you need some new words.

    3. Is there any “baseline knowledge” about America that isn’t subject to ideological debates of some sort?

  7. This is a legit false equivalency. Even in purple/red states educators (even and especially for grade schoolers) are force-feeding woke agitprop to their students.

  8. Like so many other fields, the only thing government is any good at is collecting taxes. Vouchers are the only good solution, and not just to reduce government indoctrination; it would also improve the efficiency of education resources and probably cut school costs in half.

    I’ve often wondered how society would change if government were only allowed to redistribute tax money: vouchers for everything — health insurance, education, pensions, roads, airports — everything. It would be a lot cheaper, and politicians would have a lot less control of our lives.

    1. If the government wasn’t involved, we wouldn’t need vouchers.

      1. That makes no sense. Vouchers are a government product. If government weren’t involved, there’d be no vouchers, period, regardless of whether they were needed.

        The point of vouchers is to redistribute the taxes, so the rich support the poor. The fact that statists of all stripes would not support a voucher-only system is proof that they care more about indoctrination than education.

    2. I’ve often wondered how society would change if government were only allowed to redistribute tax money

      Well, scientists would suddenly be pointing fingers at everyone laughing: “Ha, now you have to beg for grant money!”

      More broadly, may I encourage you to look at how welfare has changed since the ’30s? We’ve gone back and forth over micro-managing who qualifies for and how people are allowed to spend their “vouchers” multiple times.

      “Cheaper” and “less control” aren’t necessary for “vouchers”.

    3. Well, food stamps are vouchers to buy food. So I take it there are no arguments about how that money is spent.

      …oh wait….

  9. A government-controlled system of education can hardly help but indoctrinate students in the belief that government as it exists is necessary.

    Imagine a course, or even a single session, articulating the notion that the economic arguments against socialist control (such as the calculation problem) should apply with equal force to government ownership and control of education.

    Would such arguments be allowed to stand, or be vigorously attacked?

    1. I imagine they would be attacked, but what’s wrong with that?

      Are you saying that libertarian arguments of that sort are so obviously correct that they shouldn’t even be challenged?

  10. Does any state require a textbook on how bad public education is?

  11. It is not just political partisans. Everyone is becoming skilled at spin control; manipulation of how events are interpreted.

    Facts are few and dry, and inadequate. Indians and white men killed each other. Some people earn more money than others. Any attempt to characterize those facts or to put them in context is subject to spin control. If history books were limited to the objective truth, they would be 10 pages long.

    Perhaps the singularity where machines take control away from humans can’t happen fast enough. We are getting too clever at manipulation.

  12. I wish the author had asked McGraw-Hill specifically about Texas not mentioning the 1950s FHA deed restrictions restricting black suburban ownership. Ditto for the publisher whose California edition avoided the use of the word “massacre” in connection w 19th Century Native American attacks on whites.

    It’s a lot more work, but it might be very interesting to see the extent to which each state’s state-specific content tends to lead (vs follow, vs neither) wrt changes in the treatment of significant longstanding topics in national textbook editions over the decades.

  13. Texas has long been notorious for its centralized control of school textbooks. (There has never been such a building as the “New York School Book Depository”, for example.) I guess California has joined them. Leaving textbook selection up to local school boards would likely mean that no one board had the power to get books re-written to its ideological specifications. I do wonder what the McGraw-Hill authors who modified their books one way for Texas, and the other way for California, have to say for themselves. Probably that they are just giving their customers what they want.

    1. Speaking as a Californian that went to grade a school there in the 60’s and moved a lot, school textbooks were highly standardized in California at that time too.

    2. IIRC the cited article contains a couple of publisher responses on specific items. It also states that customization (of the national edition) is sometimes done for large districts, not just states (and that customization is sometimes (often?) done without author involvement).

  14. The anti-intellectualism of the likely overeducated commenters here is a well-trod old saw but nonetheless impressive to see.

    Nice all of you dodged the evil education system’s invidious indoctrination somehow.

  15. The author wrote, “Of course, school officials might take a different approach if voters closely monitored school curricula and refused to reelect politicians who use public school curricula for purposes of indoctrination.” In both cases, voters did closely monitor the school curricula and did elect appropriate politicians. And now we have diversity. Is that a problem?

    And then, “But if voters were that knowledgeable and that free of bias, we would not have a problem of political ignorance in the first place!” Students are ignorant, politically and otherwise, that is why we have schools. My kids were taught “Civics” up through the 90s. Seems to me that educators didn’t like the politics expressed in “Civics” so they removed it from the curriculum. If there is political ignorance, it stems from that.

    The author introduces his own bias. “California would no longer be free to promote left-wing indoctrination in its schools, and Texas would no longer be able to inflict the conservative version on its students. ” Gee, “promote” sounds nice. “Inflict” not so much.

  16. The prevalence of efforts at indoctrination is likely one of the reasons why levels of political knowledge have been largely stagnant (and low) over the last sixty years, even though the average adult American today has several years more education than was the case in 1960.

    Ummm, yeah, going to need a citation for that. Because this seems like something you want to assert, but then hedge it with “likely” and “one of,” so that you can claim you’re correct if it had any minimal affect at all.

  17. The prog states for the most part have higher quality of life status than mouth-breather states so I’m OK with the situation.

    Tennessippi wants to teach crap? OK….

    1. Yes, but it often has to do with factors other than political leanings.

      California has the advantage of drawing people in (whether to stay or for tourism) because of the weather and scenery. The Northeast has the advantage of old educational institutions, drawing the brightest people away. Both coasts have the advantage of trade running through their ports. So it’s not surprising they have more money and a higher standard of living, regardless of politics.

      The problem is that the indoctrination on both sides further drives a wedge between the different parts of the country.

    2. You’re both also skipping (likely not on purpose) the main reason why the South has a lower quality of life status, but okay.

  18. I had my K-12 education in New York State in the 1950’s and 1960’s. In those days, evolution was hardly to be found in science classes and American history and social studies was largely what the current crop of neo-Confederates advocate today. Now that was political correctness.

  19. There is nothing wrong with “indoctrinating” students in school. The problem is when the majority takes money from minorities to do so.

Please to post comments