WHY IS SKYWATCH TV RELEASING THE MULTI-EPISODE DOCUSERIES “RESCUE US” LATER THIS FALL?
For many who study America’s current direction, speculation about crossing a point of no return doesn’t seem out of the question. After all, many of the ways culture presses against the outer limits of propriety are certainly bolder than in previous generations. But, what have we embraced as a society that signals we have, indeed, gone too far?
The answer to this question could come in many forms, but one key response is to consider the Mandela quote above stating that our children are the most accurate summation of society’s condition. As culture plods forward, there is talk of compromising these cherished assets via a variety of elements, ranging from the decline of education to even the normalization of pedophilia. Surely such atrocities will never be embraced! Yet, we’re closer than one may think to such extremities.
“Not on my watch!”
That’s usually the response to an immoral or distasteful proposition.
This is an admirable position, and one we should take when keeping an eye out for aversive agenda. However, it’s often met with a subversive and even malevolent counterposition that says, “Not on your watch. Sure, no problem. We’ll just condition the children, and let it happen on their watch instead.” Unfortunately, this has taken place repeatedly in American (and world) history. And while these authors advocate for the post-COVID-19 reopening of schools and the resumption of structure for our children, there are flaws in the institutions they attend full-time. Similarly, we wish to acknowledge that there are many wonderful adults in our public education system who give sacrificially on a daily basis, and whose contributions should be applauded. But, unfortunately, this same system has—in many ways—been hijacked by a faction who wants to see our youth brainwashed to embrace destructive propaganda at the cost of their actual education, and perhaps even of their souls.
It’s much easier to point out the flaws in the system than it is to outline the necessary overhaul it would take to right the wrongs. By and large, the right for all to obtain an education is a privilege our citizens enjoy because previous generations who went without public schools sacrificed to build such a system for future generations. Thus, we’re thankful that it’s available.
However, what was established as a tool for preparing students for a successful future in all facets of life (gainful employment, contribution to society, preparation for family and individual responsibilities, higher levels of thinking, and so on) has, in several areas, gone off course. Unfortunately, these areas now short-change academics while exposing impressionable students to subject matter and propaganda that their minds not only aren’t often ready for, but that are issues that should be left to the parents.
A place to begin when looking at the evolution of education over the previous decades is at what is no longer taught. The list of subjects that have been dropped by many public schools may surprise you. It includes, but isn’t limited to, the following: civics, US history, cursive writing, spelling, geography, home economics, public speaking, choir, drama, band, typing, and many foreign languages. Some of these have been assimilated into other subjects. For example, typing has been absorbed into computer classes, but the actual art of “keyboarding”—typing without looking at one’s fingers—is no longer taught in many regions. Spelling is no longer its own subject, but words are checked and corrected in the courses of “parent subjects” such as creative writing. However, some question the value of these changes. Further, in many districts, the length of time kids spend in “recess” has been reduced—nearly cut completely in some places.
Decades ago, students said the “Pledge of Allegiance” each morning, and few balked. Although they’ve had the right to decline this recitation since the early 1940s under the First Amendment’s right of free speech, it was still the majority’s practice to participate.[i] However, as an increasingly pluralistic culture has permeated our schools, with each student bringing in his or her own religious views, the phrase “under God” became such a point of contention that most schools set aside the daily recital of the Pledge in hopes of keeping multicultural peace. Two decades later, school-led prayer was forbidden under the same constitutional parameters, allowing individual and small groups of pupils to pray only when it is student-led and noncoercive.[ii] Via these and many other changes, God has been nearly removed from our school settings.
As parents have spent more time at work in recent years and less at home, schools have increasingly assumed more responsibility in childrearing. In some ways, this intervention has provided a welcome relief. Summer-school programs help parents who work full-time by providing daytime childcare; school-bus operations help save on transportation costs and allow parents of older children some work-time flexibility. And food-service programs are another sign of the escalation of schools’ involvement in caring for kids. But note the shift in the school’s role: It has gone from providing no lunch (in earlier years, students always brown-bagged it) to offering hot lunch and even breakfast in more recent decades. During the coronavirus shutdowns, many schools continued to provide lunches, delivered to private homes via school busses, because of the awareness that, for many children, school meals are the only hot meals they can count on. (This service isn’t unique to the pandemic; backpack programs across America have for years sent nutritious food home with children to sustain them over weekends and holiday breaks.)[iii]
Of course, extended hours, transportation, and meals are wonderful programs that make a huge difference in the lives of families, but the fact that they’re even needed at all highlights another issue: Parents have become spread so thin that they increasingly rely on schools for help. Unfortunately, the tradeoff for such reliance is sometimes made in allowing—whether explicitly stated or not—the school to reach into parental authority. In other words, the assistance parents receive is often accompanied by relinquishment of their power and influence over their own children. Many feel that schools in recent decades have gone too far where education is concerned, violating the rights of parents—all while even becoming less effective academically.
Mild versions of this transgression can again be seen most obviously through meal programs. Due to laws regarding nutritional requirements, many schools have overstepped their boundaries by disallowing students to eat lunches that parents send from home. In one instance, a preschooler in North Carolina was given chicken nuggets since an inspecting agent said the child’s packed lunch of a “turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips and apple juice…didn’t meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines.”[iv] A simple Google search gives links to dozens of reports of schools interfering daily in matters that should be left to parents and their children.
More severe examples of this type of parental usurpation can be found in the teen years. Since the 1990s, public school administrations have teetered back and forth on the issue of distributing condoms and related items through CAPs (condom availability programs), a tandem effort of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the school districts.[v] Teenagers often see the school as an alternate source of authority and resources when their desires don’t align with their parents’ or guardians’ principles or when parents or guardians are unavailable to help them get such supplies. Many people are surprised to learn that most states designate medical autonomy to individuals when they are in their mid-teens—usually between fifteen and sixteen years old. This means that (depending on the state) students as young as fifteen can seek medical treatment, make decisions regarding gender reassignment or hormone therapy, obtain birth control, have an abortion, get vaccinations, or do nearly anything else that falls into the “medical” category without so much as consulting a parent. And in some cases, schools help them achieve these goals.
Vaccinations are currently available at schools, via “school-based programs” that only require students under a certain age to provide a signed parent’s consent. However, even with a parent’s consent, schools won’t enforce a non-mandatory vaccine on a child who doesn’t want one.[vi] On the other hand, the school-based clinics will allow a teenager who has reached the state’s legal age for medical consent to accept the vaccinations without a guardian’s consent or notification. So, a parent who has requested a vaccine for a minor could find that the child has declined, while another parent whose teenager is fifteen or sixteen may find that his or her child has received a treatment that he or she did not approve of.
Worse than the notion that a child could be vaccinated/not vaccinated against a parent’s wishes are stories such as that of a Seattle mother, whose fifteen-year-old daughter obtained an abortion arranged by the girl’s high school without the mother’s knowledge. [vii] The woman had signed a consent allowing her daughter to be treated by the school nurse for what she perceived would be limited to assessing minor health issues. Later, however, she found that the young girl had gone in for treatment and had been given a pregnancy test. She was then provided with a taxi that took her to an abortion clinic. She was told that if she kept the matter secret, there would be no financial repercussions.[viii] The form the parent signed also apparently permitted her daughter to receive birth control. Most shockingly, no laws were broken in this whole scenario. The law allowed for minors to obtain “an abortion and abortion-related services at any age without the consent of a parent, guardian, or father of the child…[along with] testing for sexually transmitted diseases…mental health care, and prenatal care…under the law.”[ix]
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Aside from the issue of the school’s overreach, parents who have experienced this type of atrocity face another devastating problem: the fact that their child made a life-altering decision and underwent a traumatic clinical procedure without parental counsel—and alone. Although this practice is widespread in American schools, it happens in other countries as well, with much the same devastating impact on families. For example, a New Zealand mother found out four days after it happened that her sixteen-year-old daughter had received an abortion. “I was horrified,” the mom said, “horrified that she’d had to go through that on her own, and horrified her friends and counsellors had felt that she shouldn’t talk to us.”[x] The woman pointed out the irony of school administrators who phone parents to discuss academic slumps or behavioral issues, but keep a pregnancy and terminations secret. She was further outraged that the “follow-up counselling for her daughter was ‘nonexistent.’”[xi]
Some will quickly defend schools, stating that secret abortions and other medical treatments arranged behind parents’ backs aren’t everyday occurrences. Others may point out, however, that these happenings are, by their very nature, not reported on. So, in truth, we don’t know how often things like this happen. What we do know is that they have taken place—and it could again. Also, as culture changes, the types of medical decisions a student can make without a parent’s involvement become more varied. With the uptick in the number of children and teens showing interest in gender reassignment and/or hormone therapy, these subversive and usurping acts made by schools can cause deeper harm to families by intruding into conversations that desperately need to take place between children and parents and should never happen without a parent’s knowledge.
Public-school health teacher Deborah Tackmann has been in her line of work since 1976.[xii] She notes that, in her early years of teaching health classes, there wasn’t a national directive or common curriculum for her students; rather, the class was designed to simply take a look at an individual’s overall health and explain how physical systems within the body work together. “It was a systems approach,” she said. “Here’s the respiratory system, the circulatory system.” Then later, she said, as statistics began to highlight the issue of teen suicide, the school’s response was, “Oh! We have an issue with suicide. Maybe we should talk about it.”[xiii] As a teacher who calls her middle-school students “hormones with legs,” she says that one challenge of teaching sex education in modern culture is instilling within students “skills to access…information…and say no to certain behaviors but yes to relationships.”[xiv] To be certain, the topic of sex ed in public schools has become convoluted over her teaching years. Whereas health and physical education classes started with studying nutrition and running laps, significant changes—such as the intrusion of media in recent years that has impacted children’s health, emergent diseases such as HIV making sexual education a frontrunner among health-related topics, and the commonplace status of same-sex relationships—have caused educators to talk more openly than ever about many aspects of sexuality.[xv]
In a nutshell, culture changes outside the school heavily influence what goes on behind classroom doors. And, unfortunately, school is no longer the innocent place a youngster goes to learn the ABCs and memorize multiplication tables. As the world drifts further into confusion, kids carry their questions into the academic setting and often ask faculty for answers, with the responses not always reflecting parents’ standards.
Did Google Hijack the Public Education System?
A large rift formed between many parents and their children’s schools when Google Chromebooks became commonplace in the classroom. This may seem like quite a leap, but it has actually created more issues than one might realize at first glance. Chicago’s public schools were among the first to transition from written work to an online interface using Google-sponsored helps such as Google Classroom, Gmail, Google Calendar, and Google Docs. The changeover was initiated in 2012 by nearly four hundred thousand students in Chicago; and now more than thirty million students are using these tools.[xvi] Google has outperformed many of its scholastic-supply competitors (such as Apple and Microsoft) by not only making its Chromebooks extremely affordable, but by creating software that provides teaching helps that permit students and educators to interface completely via the small laptops. The devices graduated from being “very useful” to “invaluable” during the COVID-19 school closures, allowing academics to carry on despite the pandemic. In the face of such drastic shutdowns, you’d think the technology would be embraced, yet there is resistance. Why?
Natasha Singer of the New York Times says, “Unlike Apple or Microsoft, which make money primarily by selling devices or software services, Google derives most of its revenue from online advertising—much of it targeted through sophisticated use of people’s data.”[xvii] This single point leads many to wonder whether Google is really striving to benefit educational institutions by making creative online helping tools and affordable laptops, or whether there’s more to this scheme. Is Google providing such a wide swath of the population—students—with the technology so it can gather data that will help it make money from the same segment of the population later, when they’re grown? Many argue that we can’t be sure whether information collected from children will ultimately serve to help or harm them.[xviii] It’s hard at this point to get any answers; Google has declined to outline precisely what data it collects from its students and how such information is used.[xix]
Additionally, can we assume that this information won’t fall into the wrong hands? This concern isn’t unfounded. These authors personally know someone whose daughter was lured into online chatrooms by a predator; the matter required police intervention before it could be resolved. New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas seems to believe that the low retail prices Google offers schools don’t stem from benevolence, but from the promise of some kind of gain.[xx] Banderas’ accusation involves Google’s violation of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, which mandates parental consent for information to be collected on children under thirteen years old. According to the attorney general, this technology has “stripped children and parents of autonomy…forcing children to acquiesce to constant monitoring, in perpetuity, in exchange for their education.”[xxi] Google has been accused of using Chromebooks to surveil children “across the internet, across devices, in their homes, and well outside the educational sphere.”[xxii]
All this concern, yet many parents who wish to find a work-around for their children are stonewalled: “No [G]oogle, no access. No access, no education.”[xxiii] To many for whom home-schooling or private education aren’t options, compliance with the Google-based schooling is an only choice. This is upsetting when we know that predators target technology used by children and teenagers, so Chromebooks and other educational materials and devices will be at the top of the list of those under fire. Further, many schools that assure parents that they have installed cyber-security apps on devices issued to students fail to mention that these safeguards are usually only effective when logged in to the school’s wi-fi. This means that the student may be most vulnerable when he or she is at home—perhaps alone.[xxiv] The FBI has issued multiple warnings that using educational-tech hardware and software can make minors susceptible to a variety of risks, sometimes offering “unique exploitation opportunities for criminals,” including but not limited to “social engineering, tracking, identity theft, or other means for targeting children.”[xxv] Note that tracking is one of the potential hazards listed and acknowledged by the FBI. For many of these devices, locations are easily obtained by hackers, meaning that if a predator does target a child, the hacker likely knows where to find him or her.
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Are We Being “Dumbed Down”?
The accusation that Americans are being intentionally dumbed down is nothing new. The phrase is scattered throughout the early years of Hollywood filmmaking, when scripts had to be adjusted to meet the educational level of a targeted audience. In 1991, John Taylor Gatto released the book Dumbing Us Down, wherein he stated that the education system stifles children’s ability to thrive creatively and victimizes them, teaching them to be mere “cog[s] in the machine” of a standardized and broken system.[xxvi] Since that book and others similar to it have been released, the phrase “dumbing down” has usually been in reference to an agenda that has infiltrated the public education system in an effort to render a more malleable, controllable, impressionable society that’s deprived of personal empowerment, ingenuity, and self-sustainability.
It is no secret that, over preceding decades, academic scores have fallen. A study conducted in 2018 by the US Department of Education found that nearly 20 percent of high school graduates are illiterate, and an equal number reads only at an elementary level.[xxvii] For some, this is the dismal result of having a school system that has become increasingly responsible for tasks that parents should be carrying out at home, while others point to budget cuts and understaffing as the culprit.
Some, however, believe this to be the outcome of an intentional and subversive eugenics project by which the population is being groomed to become “a population of mindless, robotic citizenry that simply does what it’s told…[and by which] the brainwashing commences early in America’s schools.”[xxviii] Those who believe this readily connect the premeditated academic decline of today’s generations with the preselection process of a labor force for the New World Order.[xxix] If there’s truth to these speculations, then the school’s willingness to overextend into parental authority takes on a new dimension, while the alarm associated with the passivity in which many parents allow this intrusion elevates as well.
Either way, one thing that must not escape note is an undeniable correlation between socioeconomic status and academic performance.[xxx] This becomes a recurrent familial trap that subsequent generations have difficulty breaking out of. Early on, statistics show that families struggling financially often have children who also face challenges in school, and the connection is a complex one that many have studied at length. Some perceived contributing factors are that these youths have fewer experiences that encourage academic development; less access to helpful resources such as computers, books, and tutors; and even diminished opportunities for continuing their education beyond high school.[xxxi] However, the lower socioeconomic status, linked to a lower likelihood that a student will extend his or her education post-graduation, is also a predictor of one’s future socioeconomic status.[xxxii] Thus, educational performance and future financial well-being become cyclical in families, a wheel many young people feel they’re unable to jump off of, thus they’re not motivated to even try. As academic ideals drop, entire family trees see a continued decline in the standard of living—unless their youngest generations change the momentum. With schools focusing less on many scholarly topics of yesteryear and spending more time taking over parents’ roles and discussing political propaganda in the classroom, it would seem that many of these youngsters are at a disadvantage from every direction Regardless of the reason behind the decrease in academic success in recent generations, we can hardly debate that the issue is problematic. Upon graduation of high school, students primarily choose one of three pathways: continued education, employment, or military service. One problem stemming from the modern educational system, which “places scores from standardized testing at a higher value than the actual curriculum taught in the classroom…means that students are only learning how to take tests, but are lacking in other learning opportunities to develop their potential skills and knowledge.” The problem for national security comes in when those who graduate intending to enroll in armed services find that they cannot pass entrance exams. Military recruiters face the challenge of filling openings with an upcoming generation from which “30 percent of possible recruits…[failed] the Armed Forces Qualification Tests” as a result of “inadequate education.” When this is added to the 27 percent who are disqualified due to obesity; the 10 percent who have legal infractions that prevent their involvement; and the others who are denied because of “vision, conditions like asthma and diabetes, and mental illness,” officials are left with slim pickings from which to staff an entire military. This, paired with the direct correlation between academic success and economic security, makes our nation seem as though it could be headed for serious trouble. After all, America has a formidable military power, but it will do us no good if there aren’t individuals rising up to fill it.
UP NEXT: NORMALIZATION OF PEDOPHILIA
[i] Criss, Doug. “Here’s Why Students Don’t Have to Recite the Pledge of Allegiance.” CNN Online. February 19, 2019. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2019/02/19/us/pledge-of-allegiance-explainer-trnd/index.html.
[ii] Ordonex, Franco. “Trump Defends School Prayer. Critics Say He’s Got It All Wrong.” NPR Online. January 16, 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.npr.org/2020/01/16/796864399/exclusive-trump-to-reinforce-protections-for-prayer-in-schools#:~:text=The%20U.S.%20Supreme%20Court%20banned,others%20to%20do%20the%20same.
[iii] “BackPack Program.” Feeding America. 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.feedingamerica.org/our-work/hunger-relief-programs/backpack-program.
[iv] “School Lunch Guidelines: Preschooler Told Homemade Turkey Sandwich Not Nutritious Enough, Given Nuggets Instead.” Huffpost. February 15, 2012. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/school-lunch-guidelines-p_n_1278803?ref=food&ir=Food.
[v] “Condom Availability Programs.” CDC: Adolescent and School Health. 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/healthservices/caps/index.htm.
[vi] “HPV Vaccine for Adolescents Aged 12 to 13 Years Old.” NI Direct. 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/hpv-vaccine-adolescents-aged-12-13-years-old#:~:text=Although%20it%20is%20very%20unlikely,given%20at%20an%20earlier%20age.
[vii] Friedman, Emily. “Teen Gets Abortion with Help of Her Seattle High School.” ABC News. March 24, 2010. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/teen-abortion-high-school/story?id=10189694.
[x] Neale, Imogen. “Schools Arrange Secret Abortions.” Stuff. May 15, 2011. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-star-times/5005398/Schools-arrange-secret-abortions.
[xii] Wilkinson, Missy. “Hormones with Legs: Lessons from 40 Years Teaching Health to Teenagers.” Thrillist. September 25, 2016. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.thrillist.com/health/nation/high-school-teacher-health-class.
[xvi] Singer, Natasha. “How Google Took over the Classroom.” New York Times. May 13, 2017. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/technology/google-education-chromebooks-schools.html.
[xix] Singer, Natasha. “How Google Took over the Classroom.” New York Times. May 13, 2017. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/13/technology/google-education-chromebooks-schools.html.
[xx] Morrison, Sara. “Google’s Education Tech Has a Privacy Problem.” VOX. February 21, 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.vox.com/recode/2020/2/21/21146998/google-new-mexico-children-privacy-school-chromebook-lawsuit.
[xxiii] Malkin, Michelle. “How to Protect Your Kids from Google Predators.” Dallas News. March 14, 2019. https://www.dallasnews.com/opinion/commentary/2019/03/14/how-to-protect-your-kids-from-google-predators/.
[xxiv] Eisert, Caryn. “Online Predators Target Children’s Devices.” WANDTV. April 6, 2020. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.wandtv.com/news/online-predators-target-childrens-devices/article_d6264b28-7821-11ea-8530-d733a2474899.html.
[xxv] “Education Technologies: Data Collection and Unsecured Systems Could Pose Risks to Students.” Public Service Announcement: FBI. September 13, 2018. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.ic3.gov/Media/Y2018/PSA180913.
[xxvi] Gatto, John. Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. (Gabriola Island, BC, Canada: New Society Publishers; 2017), 16.
[xxvii] Bonnay, Juliet. “The Dumbing Down of America—By Design.” Juliet Bonnay: Different Perspectives. February 19, 2019. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://by-julietbonnay.com/2019/02/the-dumbing-down-of-america-by-design/.
[xxx] “Education and Socioeconomic Status.” American Psychological Association. 2020 Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/publications/education.
[xxxii] Mompremier, LaNina. “SPECIAL TOPIC: Socioeconomic Status and Higher Education Adjustment.” American Psychological Association. April 2009. Accessed November 6, 2020. https://www.apa.org/pi/ses/resources/indicator/2009/04/adjustment.