By: Mark Glennon*
School administrators in District 39 in north suburban Chicago didn’t get what they expected from a survey on school climate.
The survey was taken in the hope to make the schools “a place where all students feel safe to express differing opinions…and that the climate is such that differences are not only respected, but also celebrated….”
It didn’t occur to them to ask about hostility towards conservatives, but that’s what they heard plenty of.
While race was the top concern, the report on the survey says, “the second highest number of comments were about political ideology, specifically with respect to the sentiment that students with conservative views are not respected and are even harassed in D39 schools.” “It should be noted,” the report adds, that “even though political ideology was not specifically asked about in the surveys, responses to this effect (indicating that students with conservative political views were not being treated well at school) were seen across the board in all three surveys, including those submitted to parents, teachers, and students in grades 5-8.” [Emphasis added.]
Administrators may have been surprised, but lots of us in the district weren’t. My daughter came home once explaining how she learned, as a matter of scientific fact, that men’s and women’s brains function identically. Education Secretary Betsy Devos, she believed from what she heard at school, is basically a composite of every form of the devil ever conceived by any culture. Not once in his eight years in the district’s schools, my son says, did he hear a description or debate about differences between socialism and capitalism. (Nor has he heard one in over three years following at the local high school, he says).
You’d think it would be standard policy to keep political opinion out of the classroom and, where it necessary enters, to keep things even-handed.
Not so, based on what I hear anecdotally, especially from other school districts. District 39 is actually pretty good compared to what I hear about some other schools, especially Evanston schools, which are off-the-charts wacko by all accounts. One school principal there recently held a staff meeting to “continue on our journey of equity” by exploring racial equity through “affinity groups” — racially segregated affinity groups. The principal’s memo is linked here.
What’s needed is a systematic collection of instances of education giving way to political indoctrination. Students’ accounts aren’t always accurate and what you or I hear anecdotally doesn’t suffice. To put an end to it, the stories need to be authenticated and counted as well as they can be.
*Mark Glennon is founder and Executive Editor of Wirepoints. Opinions expressed are his own.