Education’s Great Divide: A report from the Trenches

Seal of the United States Department of Education

Seal of the United States Department of Education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

OK, one of the things we have to do if were going to take back America is to educate our kids, instead of the sheer stupidity, mindlessness, and indoctrination they are getting now. This is one of the danger which conservatives should have foreseen in the federal takeover of education as well as the rise of the teachers unions which like all big unions protect mediocrity instead of promoting excellence. This article is from American Thinker and I am very afraid that it is a fair appraisal of what happens in American so-called education today.

Education’s Great Divide: My Time in the Trenches

By Glenn Fairman

In thinking about how valuable education is in cultivating the next generation of Americans, my mind took me back nearly twenty years to when I was a graduate student functioning as a substitute teacher at La Puente High School in Southern California.  On one assignment, I was to cover a social studies class of some old-timer; he had written down in his instructions that since his classes were on a field trip, my sole duty was to show a movie at 6th period to those who did not attend.  What I found that day opened my eyes.

In a dusty corner shelf of the room was a set of thirty-year-old textbooks from the mid-1960s, and although my memory cannot now relinquish their title, their contents burned themselves into my brain.  As I flipped through the pages, I was astonished to find what I would now consider an upper-level college textbook under color of what in the high schools used to be termed “civics.”  This text contained a very detailed understanding of political theory, constitutional law, macroeconomics, American history, and comparative political systems.  I spent the rest of the day in slack-jawed amazement, perusing what a student in a working-class town was expected to know before the mavens of education began tinkering with the curricula of our schools.

When the instructor returned at the end of the day, I revealed my astonishment to him, and he informed me that he had used those texts when he first hired on.  Now, however, could not do so, since they would be incomprehensible to nearly every student — especially considering that the nature of history and American government had been changed in the current texts.  The teacher related to me that the current texts had been scaled down to what used to be a grammar-school understanding, and they carried within them a jaundiced view of America, preferring to accentuate the warts and blemishes rather than the achievements of our political system.

I then made it my business, when finding an older teacher, to ask if education had been “dumbed down.”  To a person, I found that this question unleashed volatile diatribes on how dull children had become since the responders had begun as idealistic young men and women in the field.  Algebra teachers informed me that every year they were forced to eliminate problem sets that previous years had mastered.  English teachers who once taught Shakespeare and Dante were now reduced to leading seniors through Orwell’s Animal Farm or postmodern novels featuring teens in existential moral dilemmas.  Moreover, the analysis of themes in book reports had been deconstructed into not what the author was attempting to portray, but what personal emotions were elicited in the reader.

Incidentally, I can remember learning every member (and their home states, and departments) of President Johnson’s cabinet, the periodic table of the elements, and the multiplication tables through ten, amongst a lot of other things. This is a good place as well to air one of my personal pet peeves, WordPress is a very good platform but, the grammar checker wants me to write at about a third to fourth grade level, in my opinion. Simple words are good but only if they are direct synonyms, and by the way individual and liberty are not redundant.


Campus speech codes and filtered curricula have denuded the classical goal of the acquisition of a free and analytic mind.  The capacity to seek and apprehend truth has devolved into the project to fashion pliable minds with correct and proper opinions, in which truth itself is a problematic, wavering, conventional construct.  Passion and commitment in service to a politicized cause are indeed more valuable than the veracity of that cause, since the absence of truth renders one construction of the world coequal with another.

You see, the thing is, in our fast-moving world, you cannot possibly learn everything you need to know by the time you are 18. What you must learn is how to read, do simple math, and most importantly: how to learn. If you are wise, you will be learning all of your life, if you don’t you will find yourself falling behind very rapidly.


On perhaps my saddest day of teaching, I was witness to an assembly presented to juniors and seniors at La Puente High School under color of “AIDS Awareness.”  Within the 45-minute series of very cleverly devised humorous skits and demonstrations, I beheld the barbaric demolition of the underpinnings of the Judeo-Christian West before my very eyes.  Along with provocative descriptions of male-on-male coitus and the disparagement “twisted and perverse” directed at anyone who found fault with the emancipated vision of a sexual free-for-all was a single demonstration that elicited only wild applause and profound laughter amongst the audience.

A mid-twenties young woman, in showing how the transmission of AIDS would be nipped in the bud by condoms, unwrapped a condom, placed it in her mouth, and proceeded to insert a cucumber — using her lips to unroll the condom around the circumference of the vegetable.  She then brought students of both sexes on stage and had them perform the same activity — some with a strange adeptness and others rather clumsily.  I looked around the auditorium to see if a teacher or administrator would stop this, but those in attendance were laughing as hard as the students.

There is no doubt within my mind that the lesson learned that day, under camouflage of health safety, was that any traditions of restraint or sexual boundaries that implied that we are any more than passion-driven, erotic animals should be demolished or at least seriously called into question.  After all, schools are the provinces of authority, and they function in loco parentis.  I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the homes of those students when their parents asked Johnny and Mary what they learned in school that day.  In hearing the Tale of the Cucumber, I wonder if any were as dumbstruck as I was — that the children they loved above all else had been instructed in an action well-known to any back-alley prostitute.

In a well ordered, or even semi ordered world, that it not a demonstration that is needed. Although perhaps a lecture on how casual sex demeans both partners, but especially the female, wouldn’t be a bad idea.

In a world where knowledge is a commodity we value in the extreme, wisdom, or the possibility of it, is becoming an endangered species.  Leo Strauss said that it is better to understand the low in the light of the high than the high in the light of the low.  If we can no longer grasp his epigram, then perhaps we are farther along toward our day of reckoning than we can ever know — and of the volley being fired across our broadside, it can truly be said that we never saw it coming.

Emphasis mine because if you understand that, you have the beginning of the solution in mind.

Articles: Education’s Great Divide: My Time in the Trenches.

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22 Responses to Education’s Great Divide: A report from the Trenches

  1. Sadly, once entrenched in government bureaucracy and union theocracy (pun intended), useful idiots are being created in our schools like widgets in a widget factory. Historically, once established, the entrenched new order is rarely, if ever, reversed without destroying the nation itself and rebuilding a new one. Once perverted, Rome was never able to recover and I doubt that we will either.


    • NEO says:

      I doubt it as well but, the Rome parallel can be carried too far, history doesn’t repeat but rhymes. But without the will to reform it, we won’t.


      • I guess that is the problem. I see little will to reform – our last election has at least informed us of how little our countrymen actually care to restore this country and the level of education they received in coming to their choice. If these are the geniuses that will redesign our education system and take the role of teacher for the next generation we are in deep trouble.


        • NEO says:

          I’m not sure that’s entirely fair, I see the same thing but, we’re into the 3d generation of the welfare society, do they even know what they don’t know? I doubt it, unless we can make the low interest citizen wake up (the druggies and such are beyond redemption) we lose but, if we can make it in their interest to reform, maybe it would work, and we have nothing to lose, except time and money.


        • We have plenty of time to spend but the monopoly money is all in the hands of the US Treasury as they borrow it from the left pocket and put into the right. 🙂


        • NEO says:

          Yep, and that’s a lot of th problem. 🙂


  2. mstrmac711 says:

    This will be one of the thickest chapters someday when they write “The Rise and Fall of the American Empire” I agree with Servus that it is damn near impossible to change the flow of information once corrupted. Like many other free “benefits” this one comes with a horrendous price tag. The only solution is to have a system that gives people a choice on what they want their children to lean. One that produces students that academically and morally outperform their counterparts. Sadly, they will ultimately be the minority and we have just seen a vivid demonstration at the voting booth of what happens when the ignorant minority discovers that they can overwhem common sense with their collective stupidity.


    • NEO says:

      I know, Mac, and I too agree. But there has to be a point somewhere that, if we can apply it properly, maybe.

      The first thing has to be getting it out of the hands of the federal government and the unions (pardon the redundancy). How? I don’t know, but it has to happen.


  3. Sometimes I think the only currency that we have left in this bankrupt country of ours (morally bankrupt as well) is the currency of the martyrs — unfortunately their currency was their own blood. I guess I haven’t been having very many optimistic thoughts these last few weeks. Divine intervention may be the last hope (probably should have been the first hope as well).


  4. I’m with you on that Neo. Semper Fi.


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