Neoconservatism Meets Ingsoc in Schools
Judging from their policies and proposals, as well as their own behavior, one would have good reason to believe that most members of the Religious Right dislike public schools and think them secular, "liberally slanted," ungodly institutions that corrupt their children and turn them against their parents and their religion. After all, it is this group that most strongly advocates private and parochial school vouchers. It is this group that initiates the "put prayer back in school" drives and raises the most fuss when any blatant school-sponsored religious–often denominational–display is sanctioned by the courts. It is this group that controls many home-school organizations, at least in the South. (Full disclosure: While I was never home-schooled, my parents do home-school my younger siblings, but not because they are "Religious Right" or think that there isn’t enough religious indoctrination in the public schools.) However, their raging against public schools is really quite ironic, since–in the South at the very least–many public schools would be thought to be religious private schools by an observer who knew no better.It’s a sign of extreme cognitive dissonance that the Religious Right whines about the teaching of scientific theories that conflict with a literalist’s interpretation of the Bible, especially in the South, where most of this activity appears to take place. Of course, I speak primarily of the theory of natural selection, discussions of the geological history of the Earth, and mentions of the Big Bang theory. These scientific ideas are the Religious Right’s most common boogeymen, since they conflict with their dear-to-their-heart notion of a 6000-year-old Earth. However, more recently, the Neoconservative political agenda has made its way into ecology classes, where global warming and environmentally responsible consumerism–if discussed at all–are treated dismissively as "unproven theories." This, in public schools, the institutions of the devil.
All of the following anecdotes are true, unembellished, and occurred in public schools in the Southeast. (Read more…)