Not education, but political indoctrination
February 23, 2023
To The Eagle:
The expression ‘stay woke’ has been used by Black folks since the 1920's, urging people of color to stay aware and vigilant against racial discrimination. The subsequent Civil Rights movement fostered cross-cultural awareness of other forms of oppression; against women, homosexuals, immigrants, Jews, and other targeted non-Christian minorities.
Conservatives have co-opted and inverted ‘woke’ into a slur, mocking what activists of my generation refer to as ‘having a social conscience,’ being alert to injustice in society, especially racism, as we struggle to achieve “liberty and justice for all” in the nation we pledge our allegiance to when we salute our flag.
Conservative extremists and white-supremacist reactionaries would have you believe they are waging a righteous culture war against the leftist forces of woke in our schools, when they attempt to ban school texts and library books authored by Blacks and ‘queers,’ or those that discuss alternate lifestyles and ‘radical’ egalitarian viewpoints.
Like-minded ideologues preying upon this nation’s school districts aren’t angry at political indoctrination in education. They’re angry their politics don’t have a monopoly on it. Theirs is no culture war over how schools should educate children. It’s a war against education itself.
Authoritarian conservative governors, and their extremist legislatures, are attempting to commandeer our educational system by infiltrating and radicalizing school boards, intimidating teachers, banning books, mandating state censored course content, even restricting the very words and ideas teachers can use. This isn’t about education. It’s state sponsored political indoctrination bordering on terrorism.
Teaching students the true unvarnished history of civil rights and human rights in this nation makes for some grim reading that’s both shocking and amazing. That’s education, not indoctrination. Educating students truthfully is what’s going to keep our imperfect, wonderful democracy alive.
The great 20th-century philosopher of education, John Dewey, remarked “democracy has to be born anew every generation and education is its midwife- a noble concept despised by those who are trying to strangle democracy in its cradle - our schools."