What Should Kids Be Taught? The Left Has All the Wrong Priorities.
It’s the most radical “summer camp” ever. No, really. The Portland-area Budding Roses summer camp “cultivates free, safe, and empowering spaces for youth to learn, express themselves, and engage critically with the social justice issues that impact them.” What that boilerplate gobbeldy-gook means is that they aim to teach 4th through 8th graders about white supremacy, police abolition, protest chants, and how to deal with tear gas. Ah, Portland, keep being weird.
Everyone likes roses, my wife included. And “budding” roses — well, that’s clearly the campers. What’s not to like about a camp that will help your awkward pre-teenager blossom into maturity? Sounds nice, from a certain point of view.
The important — or should I say “critical”? — question is, what color are the roses? Roses of various hues have been appropriated as symbols of every sort of political cause you can imagine. “Budding Roses was founded as a project of Black Rose/Rosa Negra Anarchist Foundation,” says the website. Among its inspirations are “the Black Panther’s Free Breakfast Programs, and Paolo Friere’s Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” Oh.
It’s not possible to know what will be taught at the camp until it begins on Monday because the campers will decide. “Campers identify topics they are interested in learning about, set community ground rules, use restorative justice to resolve conflicts, and lead their own workshops to teach their peers.” But the possibilities are ridiculous. There’s a module on abolishing police, another on abolishing prisons. There are guides on how to treat tear gas and bail people out of jail. Campers can choose to learn about white supremacy, intersectionality, indigenous lands, and other critical theory-inspired themes.
The most dangerous element of Budding Roses is that, like the Pied Piper, it entices children to follow. The anarchist camp has existed since at least 2018, when it was selected for a “Spirit of Portland Award, as Nonprofit Initiative of the Year.” For five years running, Budding Roses has somehow been recruiting someone’s children to reinforce the ranks of the city’s anarcho-fascists. “We see returning campers taking on leadership roles at camp, getting involved in their communities, holding banners at marches, and initiating discussion about social issues with their parents.” With summer camps like this one, it’s no wonder that Portland has suffered from persistent rioting and burning for the past three years.
The radical Left is quite open about wanting to change what children are learning. “Mainstream education often reproduces structural oppression and disempowers youth,” complained Budding Roses. They aren’t alone. Another Left Coast invention, Drag Queen Story Hour, has spread to every corner of the country. In New York City, it’s become an institution aimed at young children in public libraries and elsewhere. A group affiliated with “Drag Story Hour NYC” recently released a drag coloring book to teach kids about “neo-pronouns” and the fictional gender spectrum. For some reason, they believe kids should know this before they’re taught about fractions.
But surely most progressives are still committed to traditional education, too, right? After all, universal public education is based on the idea that it’s essential to give children of all backgrounds access, opportunity, and empowerment (and all the other preferred buzzwords) to be whatever they want. Unfortunately, that goal is a liberal one, which the new Left has largely abandoned.
This was evident during the COVID pandemic, when schools shut down in-person learning despite the low risk of infection for children and the obvious problems with kids trying to learn at home. Parents soon discovered that schools were focusing less on real education and more on woke indoctrination. When students eventually returned to the classroom, they were forced to wear masks, despite the obvious problems for development and communication.
Now, 28 months after the country first shut down, some pockets of are still resisting returning to normalcy. San Diego Unified School District reestablished a mask mandate on Monday that had no chill. When School Board President Sharon Whitehurst-Payne heard that some parents don’t feel comfortable sending their child masked to school, she said they should “just not return.”
The priorities of the leftist ideologues who run our education establishment should astonish and alarm. Apparently it’s more important that children wear a mask in school than that they keep up their studies. Kids are a whole grade level behind in reading, writing, and arithmetic, but they’re provided with extra programs to teach kids how to embrace a non-binary gender identity or stand toe-to-toe with police. What kind of priority structure is that?
The only conclusion to draw is that those seeking to influence America’s children are more committed to their cultural and political agenda than to the welfare of those children. They are using them as pawns to achieve the social change they desire. Their objectives are short-term, and they don’t consider the long-term consequences on children’s lives — which is ironic, given the nature of education.
Parents, the ultimate responsibility and right to direct the upbringing and education of your children belongs to you. It is not the state’s job, the teacher’s job, or the radical activist’s job. You know your child best and love your child most. So setting healthy limits and healthy goals for their life is something you are best equipped to do. Your children are budding and blossoming; the question is, into what? Into an ugly, black rose? Into a tool of leftist ideologues? Or into a beautiful fulfillment of God’s purpose for their lives? The choice is up to you.
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.