Adolf Hitler also wrote, “The state must declare the child to be the most precious treasure of the people. As long as the government is perceived as working for the benefit of the children, the people will happily endure almost any curtailment of liberty and almost any deprivation.”
In other words, as long as you control the young, you wind up pledging them to you for the future and also turning adults into lapdogs. Great goals for a dictator.
I want to make it clear that in what follows I am not alluding to anything on the scale of what occurred in Nazi Germany.
On the other hand, the lesson of controlling the youth has been well absorbed by Florida’s Republican controlled legislature and its governor, Ron DeSantis, a man of much ambition and no scruples.
The governor is on a mission to influence how and what students learn from kindergarten to graduate school.
He takes a major interest in civics education.
It all began with his statement that every high school graduate should have to complete a course in civics, to learn about our three branches of government and the history of our nation.
Who could possibly argue with that?
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple.
According to an article in my local paper on June 30, the state is conducting three-day seminars throughout its expanse in order to “assist” teachers in the instruction of such a course. It comes at a cost to taxpayers of six million dollars. Attendance is not required. But—there is a $700 incentive. It’s enough to attract a reasonable number of participants who are vastly underpaid for their work. They also can get an additional bonus of $3000 if they take and complete a 60-hour online course on the new civics standards.
The seminars are led by the Florida Department of Education, an incorrectly named branch of state government filled with Governor DeSantis toadies. The Department’s previous leader and DeSantis sycophant, Richard Corcoran, has said, “Education is our sword. That’s our weapon. Our weapon is education. And we can do it. We can get it right.” Sounds eerily familiar and scary to me.
In spite of the bribery attempts to ensure participant loyalty, the attendees were not cowed and reported the following facts about what the “instruction” requires teachers to do.
- Downplay the role the colonies and later the nation played in slavery.
- Indicate most slaves in the country were born into it and the colonies were not as involved in the transatlantic slave trade as has been reported. As if somehow it’s better to enslave someone born to you rather than bought by you.
- State that Presidents Washington and Jefferson wanted to outlaw slavery (but don’t mention they were slave owners).
- Interpret the Constitution as the writers intended it and not as an evolving document.
- Report the nation’s founders did not want a strict separation of state and church. Despite what some of those founders actually said.
- Teach that our founders expected religion to be essential to civic virtue and hence should be promoted.
- Denigrate court decisions separating church and state as unjust.
Other comments by those attending indicated the following:
- No source was given for quotes presented, although that is a basic academic requirement.
- Christian nationalism philosophy was “just baked into everything that was there.” I have heard of requirements for other courses that is consistent with this, including the mandated teaching of a Bible verse from the New Testament.
- Instruction at the seminar made it seem “as though Christianity was the ‘only viewpoint’ that the Founding Fathers had in mind for the country.”
- Facilitator deflected attempts to debate, or question covered topics.
Many of the attendees were disgusted. They knew it was not valid instructional wisdom. It was an attempt to present a biased self-serving view of a wicked political outlook.
It turns out that, not too surprisingly, the workshops were developed by ultra-conservative Hillsdale College, the Bill of Rights Institute that was founded by Charles Koch, and other like-minded organizations.
I don’t see much difference between this attempt at indoctrinating students and Hitler’s desire to control the youth.
I think it’s scary. If parents don’t object and back teachers who are objecting, aren’t they enduring curtailment of liberty just as Hitler predicted they would be willing to?