California Poised to Approve Far-Left K-12 Curriculum

Kindergarten teacher-student AP J Pat Carter
AP/J. Pat Carter

Though it may seem hard to believe, California is on the verge of approving a K-12 curriculum for public schools that is even further left-leaning than its current program of instruction.

If the framework is approved, the shift to far-left curricula will likely spread to other states since textbook companies will be forced to cater first to California’s large population, and then sell those texts nationally.

Stanley Kurtz, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, explains at National Review:

California’s current curriculum is already biased toward modern liberalism, but the new framework takes several giant steps further to the left. On immigration, it is anti-assimilationist; on family and sexuality, it is radically anti-traditionalist; on terrorism, it tends to “blame America first;” on the 1960s, it highlights and implicitly lauds the most radical “black, brown, red, and yellow power movements;” on politics, it paints a halo over progressives while perpetrating a hit job on conservatives; on economics, it elevates Keynesian liberalism and ignores everything else; on military history, it is silent or slyly antagonistic; on contemporary politics, it reads like an anti-globalization protest pamphlet.

Kurtz, who has expertly sounded the alarm about the leftward shift of the College Board’s new Advanced Placement history curriculum, says the reason America is fast becoming “infatuated with socialism” is because most of its students attend public schools in which they are taught socialist principles from kindergarten. These principles are then fully cemented in liberal colleges and universities, and graduates then go on to run America’s local, state, and federal governments, many large corporations, and special interest groups. Consequently, with each passing generation educated in America’s schools, the nation accepts more of socialism as “normal.”

“Now, between the new Advanced Placement curriculum and California’s leftist gambit, the space for more traditional approaches to American history and civics may soon be reduced to insignificance,” Kurtz warns.

In his own alarm about the proposed curriculum, Stanford University’s Hoover Institution research fellow Bill Evers writes at the Orange County Register that the new framework “is filled with present-minded paraphrases of the uplifting rhetoric of the Progressives of early 2-century America.” He observes, however, that missing in the leftwing curriculum are other facts about the Progressive movement, such as their “devotion to eugenics and their opposition to African Americans getting an academic education.”

That’s just one huge “gap,” says Evers, a former assistant U.S. Secretary of Education, and points out others, as well as factual errors and outright liberal propaganda in the framework:

Why is Olaudah Equiano (d. 1797) listed in the framework as the author of an exemplary slavery narrative, when research has shown that Equiano was born in America, not Africa, and that much of his narrative is false?

Why does the framework pretend that Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey” provide us with valid historical information on life in the Mycenaean era of ancient Greece, when hundreds of years of Dark Ages separate Homer from Mycenaean times? …

Why is Progressivism portrayed only as compassion, love, and goo-goo reform? Where are the centralization, the Imperial Presidency, the cult of efficiency, and the rule of experts that are integral to progressivism?

Why is the only explanation given of economic crises is the Keynesian one, which was discredited by the stagflation of the 1970s? Where is the Chicago School explanation (monetary contraction) that was espoused by Nobel Laureate Milton Friedman? Where is the Austrian School explanation (overinvestment induced by banking rules) that was espoused by Nobel Laureate F.A. Hayek? …

The New Deal’s federal spending during the Great Depression is mentioned, but where is the fact that such spending was concentrated not on areas of greatest recent economic decline, but rather on areas where the New Deal political coalition was in trouble? …

Why do whole sections of the framework read as if they are pamphlets written by anti-globalization street protesters?

In a close analysis of the proposed 11th grade American history curriculum, Kurtz notes one of its stated goals is to concentrate on “movements toward equal rights for racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual minorities and women.”

“To a considerable degree, conventional political history (and even the new holy trinity of ‘race, gender, and class’) has been shoved aside or reduced to a supporting role by race, ethnicity, and sexuality,’” Kurtz notes.

On the topic of immigration, Kurtz says he is forced to conclude that the proposed California framework is “even worse” than the AP U.S. History framework in its omission of the central importance of assimilation of immigrants into American culture throughout the nation’s history.

“I think it’s fair to characterize California’s new curriculum as openly anti-assimilationist,” Kurtz finally decides, pointing out what appears to be, in the framework, a need to minimize and distort how much assimilation has been a part of America’s immigration history.

He writes:

You can almost see the authors of the framework agonizing as they acknowledge that early 20th century progressives worked to assimilate European immigrants. Assimilation, the framework editorializes, is “questionable by today’s standards that generally embrace having a plurality of experiences in the country…” Students are instructed to use the supposed oddity of progressive assimilationists to “think historically” about what could have produced such an anomaly. The answer, the framework broadly hints, is some combination of racism and unregulated capitalism.

Kurtz warns particularly about militant separatist MEChA, an organization whose goal is a conquest of the American Southwest for Mexico. The group is featured in the proposed California framework as a mere sample of a civil rights organization common during the 1960s.

“This is a dangerous concession to a group whose activists populate many California schools,” Kurtz explains. “It is also the ultimate repudiation of America’s assimilationist ethos.”

Traditional American family culture has been continuously under attack during the tenure of the Obama administration by militant LGBT activists, and that agenda has found prominence in the proposed California curriculum.

“No other 11th grade theme receives more coverage,” writes Kurtz. “The subtext is decidedly ‘liberationist,’ with a constant implication that traditional morality and family structures are oppressive and outdated.”

American public schools have become increasingly obsessed with social issues, most currently gender ideology, with markedly less value placed upon academics, and the California 11th grade American history curriculum reflects that shift.

Kurtz writes:

The general emphasis on social themes greatly weakens the framework’s treatment of political, military, and diplomatic history. So, for example, on World War I, students learn nothing of the role of American troops in turning the tide of battle, much less about heroes like Sargent York. They do learn, however, that American soldiers abroad found European ideas about sexuality “very liberating.”

As might be expected given liberal ideology as seen in America’s media, Kurtz observes that Islamist terrorism “gets virtually no substantive treatment” in the 11th grade curriculum. Additionally, the vast expansion of the regulatory powers and influence of a centralized government in Americans’ daily lives is viewed, as Kurtz says, “in the most sympathetic terms,” such as providing protections for people from the ravages of big business.

While Republican presidents are all but ignored in the curriculum, conservatives such as President Ronald Reagan are “painted in caricature,” notes Kurtz. In the proposed California 11th grade framework, Reagan is presented as a leader who appealed to “social conservatives,” a segment that is characterized as opposing “safety net” programs.

“In short, California’s proposed new K-12 history and social science curriculum is a carnival of leftist bias and distortion,” Kurtz warns. “If it receives final approval, the problem is likely to spread across the country, as publishers forced to meet the demands of the most populous state offer their revised textbooks nationally.”

The California State Board of Education is scheduled to meet on July 13 to consider final approval of the curriculum framework.


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