R.G. Williscroft, PhD
341 112th Avenue S.E.
Bellevue, WA 98004
206-451-0597 (Home) 206-527-6196 (Work)
18 November 1983
P.O. Box 70
Seattle, WA 98111
This morning on the news I heard about the junior high curriculum proposed by the National Education Association. Spokesmen said that the curriculum had been approved by NEA leadership and was being presented to local school districts across the country. They emphasized that the curriculum could not be taught by their membership without approval of the districts, but strongly recommended approval.
The announcement was followed by comments from several individuals including a spokesman for the National Federation of Teachers. The gist of their comments was that the proposed curriculum lead to the inevitable conclusion that (i) there must be a nuclear freeze as soon as possible. (2) the United States is primarily culpable for the nuclear standoff that presently exists and must bear the brunt of responsibility for the continuing escalation, and (3) that the major differences between the Soviet Union and United States are psychologically motivated, being generated by the United States Government as a means to continue the arms race.
Now, I ask you, would these statements, presented by themselves ever be mistaken for anything but what they are, blatant Soviet propaganda? I will not go so far as to say that the NEA is a Soviet front; that is giving the Soviets too much credit. But I wonder how it is possible that we have allowed the education of our children to be entrusted to people who are so naive as to fall into this kind of trap. Our children spend more time each day with these people, soaking up their frightening world view than they do in our own homes, learning the values we hold dear, the values that have made our country the cradle of world freedom. It is a great injustice to our children and to the future of our country to allow this to continue.
I am not suggesting loyalty oaths and the other trappings of the ultra right, but I cannot understand why we should have to put up with teachers whose ideologies are so obviously opposed to the American mainstream. These people are paid out of public coffers, in other words, paid by us to teach our children. It seems only right that they should be compelled to teach values we agree with, or conversely that we should be able to hire teachers who are known to hold these values.
Three years ago, I took my youngster out of the public school system and placed him in a private school that teaches values I can live with. I confess, however, that my primary motivation was not the question I have raised in this letter. We had moved from Seattle to Virginia Beach, Virginia. I purchased a home in the area where graduating seniors demonstrated the highest SAT scores for the region, and placed my son in a school there. To my complete disbelief, several weeks later I discovered that his sixth grade math teacher was unable to solve a quadratic equation, unimportant for the man in the street, but unforgivable for a sixth grade math teacher. That week, I began looking for a suitable private school. I found one in the Shenandoah Valley. My son still attends there, loves the school, and is doing very well academically. He has finished graduation requirements in English. He comprehends U.S. history and the place occupied by the United States in the world community. He speaks intelligently of our international responsibilities and, very important, has not fallen into the trap the entire NEA seems to have fallen into. Soon he will be starting calculus, because he enjoys math. He has developed an affinity for the French language.
My son is not that extraordinary. Neither is his school. Its teachers earn no more, often less, than local public school teachers. The difference lies in the attitude of these teachers. The school did not develop their attitudes, of course. They had them before they were hired. All the school did was hire people with attitudes, points of view, world outlooks that did not conflict with basic American values. This is not to say that all the teachers in my son’s school think alike. Far from it! But not one of them would step forward naively making statements like those put forward by NEA this morning.
So, there you have it. On one hand is a young lad destined to be a leader in tomorrow’s world: he thinks clearly and is in contact with reality. On the other is a public school system lead by teachers who accept as truth the most obvious propaganda, who teach these “values” to our children, and who seem unable so teach them the things they need to know—the simple basics of any educational system: reading, writing, arithmetic. This is critical, not only for parents, but for each one of us. Today’s school children will be tomorrow’s citizens. What they learn today will affect all of us tomorrow. We need to act!