We’ve all heard the story about the boy who cried wolf, well I just finished reading a book lent to me by my daughter and am reminded of not only the wolf boy, but also of a person who screams fire in a crowded theater or auditorium when only a match has been struck.
The book is titled Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool -Aid: Confronting the Left’s Assault on Our Families, Faith and Freedom.” The author, Mary Beth Hicks, is a well known columnist for the Washington Times, and author of the book“Bringing Up Geeks: How to Protect Your Kid’s Childhood in a Grow Up Too Fast World” (Geeks refers to Genuine, Enthusiastic, Empowered, Kids) which has been praised by many, my daughter included, as “a breakthrough parenting book that redefines the meaning of “geek”—and inspires parents to free themselves and their kids from the ‘culture of cool.” I haven’t read it yet, but after reading this one I don’t know if I can or even want to. “Don’t Let the Kids Drink the Kool-Aid” is one of the most right winged, conservative books I’ve had the misfortune of reading in quite some time. Hicks comes across as a social and political alarmist, a chicken little screaming that the sky is falling! In this case the sky she refers to is education.
Now don’t get me wrong, Hicks does have some valid points, but nothing that hasn’t been covered before. Her underlying motive for publishing the book is obviously politically and intended solely to persuade readers to vote Republican and return our country to a more conservative order. Her dislike of the Obama political machine is undeniable as is her distaste of all Liberals. Her use of brash scare tactics to sell her point is outrageous. Who is this lady, Rush Limbaugh in drag? If not they must have attended the same right-winged, ultra conservative conversion classes together, both are highly critical of what they call extremist, leftist liberals and their policies, and the liberal bias in our country. Of course when you’re as far right as these two, anything even a little left of center seems extreme.
As a former teacher I find some of her remarks offensive. Her claim that our system of education has been seized by leftist extremist is ridiculous! Her insinuation that today’s children are being brainwashed by leftist ideology in an effort to rewrite history and change the course of our nation, is folly! How dare she use the Jonestown ‘Kool-Aid’ reference in her title. That in itself should show you how far right she is. And just to set the record straight the Jonestown victims drank cyanide laced Flavor-Aid not Kool Aid. Hicks couldn’t even get that right!
How can Hicks possibly compare today’s teachers to the Rev. Jim Jones, I mean really? Jones was a madman, a lunatic cultist who persuaded 909 of his followers to commit an act of revolutionary suicide to protest the conditions of an inhumane world. Does she really believe today’s teachers are modern day Jim Jones’ who poison and brainwash the minds of our students not with Cyanide but with left wing liberalism. Can she truly believe our children are being indoctrinated rather than educated in today’s classroom’s or does this Obama naysayer simply want to make a political statement? Or perhaps just sell some books.
She really lost me about halfway through the book when she denounces teacher’s unions and makes the fallacious statement “The notion that today’s public school teachers are an overburdened, under-appreciated lot is a bunch of hooey,” citing that the abbreviated work week, summers off, plus pension, benefits, and all the opportunities teachers have to supplement their income make teaching “a really good gig.” It’s obvious she has no real idea of the immense responsibility of the teaching profession, of the commitment, all the work involved beyond actual classroom instruction, the countless hours that surpass the 35 hour work week, hours spent in the classroom long after the students have left for the day and the time spent at home reading, grading papers, preparing lessons, working diligently to stay one step ahead of the students, working to keep things fresh and interesting.
But you know what? She’s right about one thing. If you love working with children, and enjoy seeing the light bulb come on, if you have a passion for what you do and enjoy helping others regardless of all the unpaid extra hours, well then it is a pretty sweet gig.
I’m sorry, but the arguments presented by Hicks do not hold water. Lefties have rights too! Had she balanced her attack by including information on conservatives and religious fundamentalist that dwell to the right, it may have at least given her some credibility on the issue. Her failure to do so taints her premise. For the same argument she makes against lefties, can be made against right wing conservative teachers in the classroom and their effect on the education of our children.
I would never condone indoctrination in the classroom. In my 23 years in education I have yet to see it, but I’m sure it does go on in isolated cases. Oh I’ve seen some teachers with a personal agenda who may slant things ever so slightly, you know, things like save the planet, save the rain forest, recycling, and such, but no political or social manifesto or platform. Although I did on occasion encourage my students to go home and urge their parents to get out and vote. I didn’t try to sway or influence them one way or another, but simply to vote.
I really don’t think it’s possible for a teacher to be in a classroom without some trace of personal opinion coming through. Sometimes student want to know a teachers point of view and I don’t believe there is anything wrong with sharing an opinion as long as it’s presented as just that, an opinion. Sorry Mary Beth, your book is just a lot of smoke and mirrors and as far as I’m concerned has no substance. About the only thing you proved is you’re a rightie who doesn’t care much for Obama! That your right! But I’ve seen lots of kids including my own, who have drank the kool-aid served up by instructors and you know what they found it quite refreshing, not at all tainted as you claim it to be.