What Kids Are (Not) Learning About Socialism

What Your Kids Learn About Socialism | Self Governance Project
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“My object in life is to dethrone God and destroy capitalism.” – Karl Marx

Lest you think this quote is something taken out of context in order to advance an agenda, I would urge you to study the life of Marx. You will find that within his ideas and his actions were an inherent contempt for religion, his family, and his fellow men. His ideas were also used as the basis for some of the bloodiest revolutions in history.

Unfortunately, it appears that this is not what students learn in public schools these days. Today, I would like to share a story about what some students at a Utah school have learned and what many others are probably learning about communism, socialism, and capitalism.

Before I begin my shocking tale, I should make it clear that I believe public school teachers are wonderful individuals who perform the tough task of educating our youth. However, it appears that there are some who have ulterior motives for doing so. While it is important to avoid assigning motives and to give the benefit of the doubt, there are times when the evidence points only one direction and we are left to make judgments for ourselves. Not judgments of an individual’s character, but judgments of how we should act moving forward.

With this in mind, let me begin.

Help With An Essay

Political Philosophy 101

A few months ago, my youngest sister (who is in junior high) asked if my wife and I could help her with an essay for one of her classes. With both of us having graduated from Brigham Young University with degrees in Political Science, helping to edit an essay for her sounded like fun (yeah, we’re nerds).

One night soon thereafter, we happened to be at my parents’ home and saw some of her school papers sitting on the table. We started reading them and were quite shocked by what we found.

We asked my sister what these documents were for, and she explained that she was supposed to use them for her essay assignment, in which she was supposed to argue for either individualism, collectivism, or both as a guiding political philosophy.

With raised eyebrows we asked, “Which class is this for? History?”

To which she replied, “English.”

Come again? Did you say English? Why on earth is a 9th grade English class focusing on the merits of individualism and collectivism – topics generally reserved for collegiate political philosophy classes?

Alas, we still don’t have answers.

But what was in those documents that gave us great concern?

The Documents

To the casual observer, the documents may have appeared very fair and unbiased. However, my wife and I had it drilled into our skulls in our degree program to critically examine arguments and evidence.

The documents were anything but fair or unbiased.

All of them came from left-wing sources that cast capitalism in a contemptuous light. I want to make this very clear from the beginning: there is nothing wrong with giving kids sources to use for class from left-wing outlets. It is a problem, however, when they are the ONLY sources given. It would be just as much of an issue if students were only given material from right-wing sources.

The problem created is that these kids are supposed to argue either for capitalism (individualism) or socialism (collectivism). If all of the material they are allowed to use come from one perspective, there’s only one conclusion they’re allowed to reach. Isn’t that the definition of indoctrination?

Lest you think I’m just getting worked up, read on and examine the evidence for yourself.

What “Capitalism” Is and How It Affects People

One of the more concerning documents came from the bastion of knowledge and information: Teen Vogue.

This particular document was subtle in its messaging, but clear. It begins: “Capitalism is defined as an economic system in which a country’s trade, industry, and profits are controlled by private companies, instead of by the people whose time and labor powers those companies.” (People = government here.)

The piece goes on to cite surveys from CNN, Salon, and The Washington Post that suggest millennials don’t like capitalism, while remarking: “To conservatives’ dismay, the modern idea of socialism, which has roots in Greek philosopher Plato but emerged as a popular political idea in the early 19th century among German radicals like Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, has become increasingly popular among young people in the past several years, following Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders’s underdog run for president and the authoritarian creep of the ultra-capitalist, anti-socialist Trump regime” (emphasis added).

If the purpose is to educate children and let them make decisions for themselves, shouldn’t they be given the information from both sides of an argument and then be allowed to make choices? If you say that Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were just “radicals,” shouldn’t you also state just how “radical” they were and just how many people died from the implementation of their ideology?

But alas, no mention.

Additionally, if the object is fairness, why is Bernie Sander’s described as an “underdog” while Donald Trump is described as “authoritarian”, “ultra-capitalist”, and “anti-socialist”? I’m no fan of either, but it does appear that there is a clear bias rather than a recitation of actual facts.

Capitalism, It’s Characteristics, Pros, Cons and Examples

At first, this document appears to simply explain the basics of each system and what the benefits and drawbacks are.

However, the end of the document claims that “Proponents of socialism say their system evolves from capitalism,” and that “communism evolves beyond both socialism and capitalism, according to theorists.”

Or as radical Russian revolutionary and devout Marxist Vladimir Lenin put it: “The goal of socialism is communism.”

The document continues: “[Under communism] the government provides everyone with a minimum standard of living. That’s guaranteed, regardless of their economic contribution.”

In other words, everyone is guaranteed to be poor together.

In fairness, this document does go on to list reasons in the Constitution as to why the U.S. is mostly capitalistic. It also claims that the Preamble to the Constitution “sets forth a goal to ‘promote the general welfare,'” which requires the “government to take a more significant role than that prescribed by a pure market economy.”

That’s a subject of debate among Constitutional scholars on the right and the left at best. If you were to ask the people who wrote the Constitution, they would tell you that “general welfare” meant public good and happiness, not social welfare programs.


I highlighted one of the most concerning examples. The others, while not as alarming, still only reinforced one side of the debate. See the images below to behold with your own eyes.

Parents’ Reaction

After reviewing these documents, my wife and I were in shock. When we had learned about socialism and communism (collectivism) in school at my sister’s age, we learned about the horrors of Stalin’s regime and the National Socialists of Germany (otherwise known as Nazis). However, there was not a single mention of the over 100 million dead due to such systems.

The excuse is always that these places “never actually tried true socialism or communism” and that it needs to be implemented correctly before we can judge.

But I reminded myself that I don’t know the teacher, and it’s very possible that my sister is missing some of the supporting documents.

I called my parents over to look at the documents, and they were equally concerned with how the material was being presented.

Trying To Understand

Initial Outreach

I wanted to push back on this and so did my father. We counseled on the issue and decided on a course of action to find out the nature and objectives of the assignment. It seemed like a political philosophy assignment rather than an English assignment. In an email, my father very clearly explained some of the concerns mentioned above and asked a few questions: Why was the assignment created? What is the end goal? Why is only one side being represented?

The tone was firm but unassuming. We only wanted to get more information before making any judgments.

The First Response

The teacher soon responded, thanking my dad for the tone in which he brought up his concerns. The teacher informed him that “all 9th graders are getting the exact same content” and that “the students of today are being prepared for jobs that don’t even exist yet.”

She also gave some insight as to the purpose of the assignment: “The actual assignment was for the students to write an argument essay taking a side on the philosophies collectivism or individualism. The third option was to argue that society needed both.” This is what we believed from the beginning.

The teacher said that she would “love to meet” my father and address some of the concerns and have the department chair and administrator present for the meeting.

She also mentioned that my sister did not have all of the required documents and that she would provide the missing ones.

In response, my father expressed further concern that all of the students were being given the same material from “leftist blogs and websites.” He offered a time to meet to get further insight.

The Missing Material

The teacher expressed willingness to meet and discuss the concerns expressed by my father and that she would find time with an administrator that would work as soon as possible.

In this response, the teacher said that the students read a book in class called Anthem by Ayn Rand. The book follows a character that leaves an oppressive society to become a self-sufficient individual. Apparently, the book was discussed in class. Additionally, an interview of Ayn Rand with Johnny Carson was shown in the class with Ayn Rand explaining her philosophy of objectivism and how it relates to capitalism. The teacher offered this as evidence that “both sides were presented.”

Soon after this communication from the teacher, my sister came home with the missing documents. With these additional resources, we were hoping to see that my sister had been mistaken all along, and that the assignment actually allowed for a fair and unbiased learning.

Unfortunately, these documents did not assuage our concerns.

The Communist Manifesto

Among these documents was an excerpt from The Communist Manifesto written by Karl Marx advocating the communist ideology. Again, there’s nothing wrong with having students study this kind of material. I myself have read The Communist Manifesto and would like my own children to read it and understand it one day.

The problem is that this was just one more document that underscored the consistent theme of radical left-wing ideology. Unfortunately, there was no document to contrast Marx’s ideas such as The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith or the Declaration of Independence.

75 Ways Socialism Has Improved America

Another alarming “new” document came from a Democratic activist site called Daily Kos. If you’re unfamiliar with the site, there’s no attempt to hide their bias. Clearly stated as their site purpose: “This is a site for Democrats…ultimately, we are fighting to make ours a stronger, more effective, more progressive Democratic Party.”

It can’t be any clearer.

The article itself is a gross conflation of socialism and basic functions of government such as military, postal services, roads, and taxes. The basic premise is that if a government taxes its people and uses the tax revenue to pay for programs, that is socialism. If that’s the case, then socialism is basically every government that has ever existed.

Never mind the fact that the U.S. Constitution specifically grants Congress power over the areas mentioned and that the Founders rejected the ideas of collectivism popular in Europe at the time.

Some of the things on the list are certainly socialist in nature, but if you read the entire article, it becomes painfully clear that the author has no idea what socialism actually is. This is evidenced by the fact that the author claims that government, law, and civilization itself are products of socialism.

I wish I were joking.

Near the end of the piece, the author reaches for this strange conclusion: “Socialism is responsible for every law in this country. Without our government and lawmakers which exist thanks to socialism, there would be no laws. So the laws themselves, are enforced and implemented thanks to socialism.”

Socialism is good because everything is socialist. Right.

Last Communications and Aftermath

At this point, our concerns grew much deeper.

My father decided to send another email to the teacher as well as an administrator who had been looped into the conversation in an attempt to express his concerns and find a resolution, as all other attempts to meet in person and discuss the issue in a civilized and respectful manner had been shut down.

This email was very direct. However, it was never inappropriate or rude. In order to focus on the concern rather than attacking the teacher, my father included the following:

“I want to make sure that you know that I respect your role as a teacher. You put up with a lot of challenging adventures with parents. I’m sure you feel that this is no exception. Fortunately for you, you won’t find me coming to you asking you to give my son or daughter a better grade if they truly haven’t earned it. I will support you when I feel that the experience to the student is fair.”

The concerns in the email were broken down into three sections (condensed here for brevity).

  1. Difficulty obtaining source materials. It took several attempts to get all of the materials required for the assignment.
  2. The assignment was well above the 9th-grade level. Expecting the students to understand the principles of individualism and collectivism with the sources provided seemed unrealistic and more appropriate for a collegiate political philosophy course.
  3. Leftist source material. The only material provided that was evidence or fact-based was from left-wing sources. Material from the “other side” was represented in the form of a single novel (Anthem), where students were expected to extrapolate the underlying principles. Which sources would be easier to use?

Soon after this email, my father received a call from the principal and vice principal wanting to discuss the issue. They essentially told him that he should not contact the teacher anymore and that he needed to drop the issue. My dad expressed the same concerns to these administrators, who seemed to understand why he would be concerned. However, they were reluctant to do anything or make any changes.

On a stranger note, the teacher felt like she was being harassed, which is why the principal and vice principal reached out. Her husband even wanted to place a restraining order on my father.

This was the most bizarre part of the entire affair. Not once had my father used a derogatory term. Not once had he made any threats. All he wanted to do was to understand the assignment, the reasoning behind it, and the reasoning behind the sources provided. Email was the only form of communication allowed, as all attempts to meet in person and discuss were denied.

So this is where the tale ends. When we asked for more information and questioned the resources used, we were met with stonewalling, excuses, and dismissal. We were told to not make a scene and sweep everything under the rug. There was no forum for discussion to find understanding.

The Heart of the Matter

I will confess that the administrators mentioned that no other parents had concerns with the assignment, as it was given to all students in the 9th-grade.

However, when my father showed the material and discussed the assignment with other parents with kids of the same age, they were outraged.

For one thing, this shows just how disconnected many parents are from their child’s learning. I don’t believe this is because they don’t care, but most of us these days are too busy to worry about every little thing our kids learn on a daily basis.

Besides this, there are several other principles that I believe are worth reiterating and summing up here.

1. Only One Side Was Represented

This bears repeating again: the issue was NOT that there were left-wing source documents the students were required to use. The problem was that documents with a left-wing slant were the ONLY documents of any relevance to the assignment that were provided.

Again, this bears repeating, I would have been (as would my father) as equally concerned if my sister were given source materials with a strictly right-wing slant such as the Wall Street Journal, The Daily Caller, or The Blaze.

The problem is not the bias. The problem is the attempted indoctrination of young kids who don’t know any better and most of whom believe whatever the teachers present. (More on this in a minute)

It is hard to conclude that this was a simple mistake. That is the conclusion I would like to make, but there simply isn’t any evidence to support that conclusion.

2. No Founding Documents Were Included

Other than a small mention of the U.S. Constitution, there were NO founding documents or ideas of the founding included. What was included, however, was The Communist Manifesto.

For an English class pretending to be political philosophy this is a travesty.

How are we supposed to continue the greatest political experiment of self-governance the world has ever seen by teaching our kids that individual liberty and private property are bad and that communism is cool?

3. Civil Discourse Is Dead

Through this whole issue, it became clear that those in charge of educating the youth did not want to communicate in person to resolve the concerns in a timely and effective manner.

On the part of the teacher, I can somewhat understand. She probably deals with angry parents all the time who yell and curse until their child gets a good grade. I wouldn’t want to deal with that either.

However, when someone wants to simply sit down and understand the “why” behind an assignment, that is a big problem. How else are we supposed to resolve our differences in society if we can’t even talk about tough issues?

The administrators really dropped the ball as well. They listened to the concerns of my father, but they essentially tried to sweep the issue under the rug by having my sister to participate in an alternative assignment and by refusing to address the concerns expressed.

4. Socialism Was Not Fairly Presented

The most concerning part was that socialism was not accurately presented. There was no mention of the 100 million+ dead as a result of oppressive, collectivist regimes.

When you ask a socialist about the death and destruction left in the wake of socialism, the response is usually, “Well, those countries didn’t implement it right.”

Right.

Even now we are seeing the effects of socialism in Venezuela. Inflation will soon near 10,000,000%. The average Venezuelan has lost 24 pounds.

In all fairness, capitalism wasn’t represented accurately either. Nowhere was mentioned the fact that as former President Barack Obama stated, “We don’t dispute that the free market is the greatest producer of wealth in history — it has lifted billions of people out of poverty.”

Why It Matters

Maybe you’re taking this a little too far, you might think. Maybe it’s not THAT big of a deal. Your sister is just a kid, she doesn’t care about socialism, communism, or capitalism.

On that last point, you would be exactly right. She does not care about these things. For now.

However, if this is what she is learning about as a kid, what will she think when she is old enough to vote and sees a socialist on the ballot? If all she (and all the other kids at school) knows about socialism is what she “learned” in school, she will be easily persuaded to join the “party”.

Unfortunately, my sister was is not alone in learning these things. As I mentioned before, the teacher stated that ALL the students of the same grade at the school were receiving this instruction. And this is in Utah, of all places. One can only imagine what is taught in taxpayer-funded schools throughout the nation.

If you want to know how our republic dies, this is it – through propaganda trotted out as truth to the rising generation, who neither care nor have the means to tell the difference.

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5 Comments

  • Wow, the last part was shocking about the admin and teacher essentially cutting off all avenues of civil discourse. You were even handed at every juncture and their response belies their fundamental belief: Parents are barriers to the teacher-led indoctrination of children— to be placated, ignored, ostracized, then threatened in order to disempower the parents.

    Also, it is a tactic of the left to ask students to form and proclaim an opinion before being taught the fundamentals of logic and rhetoric and civil discourse. Thus the student is easily manipulated by assignments such as these to believe the student holds well-formed opinions, then that student becomes a rigid ideologue because of the closely held beliefs, then feels justified in shutting down dissenting voices.

    That “indoctrinator” (won’t call her a teacher) successfully modeled that protocol at every level.

    Reply
  • It has been my experience that parents are seen as a barrier…to everything. Teachers I have come in contact with over the years have an air of arrogance about them and think parents are below them and that they always know what is best for our kids. Case in point, the band teacher at my sons high school. He has told them that nothing is as important as the band and that there is no excuse good enough to miss a practice or a performance including a teenagers job, a death, a wedding, a family vacation, or any other kind of crisis, etc. He will dock their grades no matter the reason. I’ve also had teachers force my daughter into standardized testing when she was opted out and even after she protested and said she was instructed by me to not take them. Irritating for sure.

    Reply
  • My child had similar experiences in two classes, one a leadership class the other history. My child knew enough to speak up in class and was shot down in front of her classes. We ended up homeschooling her for the rest of her 8th grade year. Her class, class of 2019 graduates in a few weeks, she is in her 2nd semester of college. Her teachers I believe we’re indoctrinated, they are so blind to what they are teaching. I honestly believers most teachers under the age of 35 have been indoctrinated in ine way or another. There is no room in public schools for those who truly understand and want to learn from source materials. Students are getting one sided information. In 2nd grade our children are taught the earth is dying because of us. In kindergarten on up our children are being taught that college is their only route. You cannot counteract all the misinformation they are taught on a daily basis via public school.

    Reply
  • Graduating highschool class of 07. Talked about Nazis… Never talked about the millions dead under Stalin and Mao. The horrors of Germany yes. The slaughter and other starvation in other nations? No.

    Did anyone my age or younger hear about Mao or Stalin’s atrocities in public school?

    Reply

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