There are over 3 million teachers in America today, and over 1.2 million of them are conservative, limited government educators who are striving to work from within a system that is hostile not only to the ideals enshrined in the founding documents of our country, but hostile to our republic itself. They are trying to stem the tide of progressivism that is threatening to engulf our students, that is teaching them a history and world-view that denigrates and blasphemes who and what we are as Americans, and the ideals and belief system that we’ve carried with us through the last two and a half centuries.
Off The Grid Radio
Released: September 21, 2012
Bill: And here is the show. I am Bill Heid, your host today with Off the Grid Radio and we do have a very special guest today. Our guest is Karen Schroeder and she is from Advocates for Academic Freedom. Karen, welcome.
Karen: Thank you.
Bill: You have been doing a lot of publishing lately and you’ve taken on a pretty big tiger here. I’ve got to give you a lot of credit. Taking on the school system—the public school system—exposing the public school system is an enormous task and it’s not usually met with a lot of warm and fuzzies. Usually there is an attack mode that follows any kind of analytical or sort of a discussion of the public schools. So we really thank you for being on the show today. We want to say thanks for doing what you’re doing.
Karen: Well thank you. It was much tougher as a teacher battling these things than it has been outside of the profession battling them.
Bill: So you find it a little bit easier just rattling the cage from the outside than trying to be an insider having a dent?
Karen: Well it’s more productive and it’s less threatening. When you are a conservative teacher… And there are 1.2 million of us. There are 3 million teachers in the United States and 1.2 million have had the courage to register as Conservatives or Republicans with the National Education Association, an organization that we pretty much have to be affiliated with while we are teaching. And I say “courage” because if you notice what happened at the NEA when they were going to endorse Obama and the Republican teachers stood up and fought that and the way those teachers were treated, we are just abused while we’re teaching because we are actively pushing these ideologies out of our classrooms and trying to protect our children from them and our fellow teachers and administrators and school board members—some of them attack us.
Bill: Well, there is supposed to be free choice and school is supposed to be a place where there is room for, as you’re saying, academic freedom so… But we all know that that’s just sort of talking points for what really is something very, very different. One of the things that I want to discuss with you before we discuss what your organization does and some of the articles you’ve been writing is I wanted to talk a little bit about the nature of education as something that comes from a culture because I’ve always been fascinated by the idea with education being sort of the impartation of knowledge, maybe character.
But what I’m thinking is that every culture conveys its sense of what ultimate values are through its school system. So if you’re going to measure a culture, look at… Anthropologists used to go to more primitive cultures and say, “Hey look, we’re going to sort of look at this culture by what it protects with its laws and what it conveys to its students through its educational.” In other words, what are we passing on that we feel is the most important thing? And once you talk about “most important things,” Karen—quotes around those words—you have this idea of ultimacy and so I think really, education is a religious concept because people are always going to be conveying what they think the most important things are. If you, for example, say, “Well look, we don’t think God is the most important thing anymore,” you disestablish God as being one of the most important things and in its place you put secular humanism or whatever it is that you currently want to call it but there is always this battle for ultimacy.
So you teachers at the NEA—you get shouted down by people who think a more important value is. So when I speak of the religious nature of it I’m not talking about Methodists and Catholic. I’m saying there is an ultimate concerns issue that when we pass things onto our kids we’re passing down to them, collectively as a group, what we think our culture’s ultimate concerns are.
Karen: Well there is a religious nature not only to our educational system intended by our founding fathers who many of whom were atheists but there is to our Constitution as well. And our founding fathers wrote the Northwest Ordinance the same year they wrote our Constitution—and some see that as the first federal standards for education—and what the founders said was that our children were to gain knowledge and they described that as a thorough understanding of our government and Constitution and then they wanted a comprehensive analysis of religion—even these atheists—because they believed…
They saw the Bible as a book of history and a book of morals and they knew that the societies that had a religious foundation were more peaceful, productive societies and that’s why they based our Constitution on the understanding that there is a Presence—a God. Even the atheists accepted that and they wanted people to study and compare the religions in their community and analyze them not from a proselytizing aspect but from a historical and “Why do the religions share the same goals and values?” and “Which values are different and why?” and then relate that to our Constitution. And once we started to get away from that we started to lose our compass—not just our moral compass but our intellectual and political compass.
Bill: Without a doubt. I think early on… My wife’s family—you’d be amused at this—my wife’s family actually gave the property to John Harvard to build Harvard College and I’ve seen the deed to that. It was a very fascinating thing. But one of the things about Harvard was—when John first established that—was the priority of language. Hebrew was there because again, John Harvard had Christian presuppositions that he had in mind, as he wanted to expound as he created the university. So he didn’t start it… Even as a historical thing—he didn’t care about the historicity of things—I mean he cared but he thought some things were true and some things weren’t true. In his case, he said, “Christianity is true therefore it’s my idea that I’m going to build this university and teach what the implications of Christianity are into our society.” So even folks like John Harvard—and of course the Log school at Princeton, the same way—you know, as you say, they had these very well grounded… the religious nature of how they started education. They thought these were the highest orders and that people ought to be able to communicate in these terms.
Karen: Yes, and if you read God and Man at Yale, written in 1952—I believe it was—by William F. Buckley Jr., he goes into great detail about how the progressives infiltrated the churches and our religious colleges first and transformed those and the impact it had on the curriculum and on our society and had people heeded his warnings and followed the seven suggestions he had at the back of the book, we could have at that time protected our public school system. As a Conservative, I sometimes grow frustrated when people blame… The blame—we’ve got to look in that mirror because even today—and that’s what my business, Advocates for Academic Freedom, is all about. As a classroom teacher, I witnessed Conservative current events materials being pulled from the school libraries and when I went to volunteer, to donate those materials, I was told by the school librarian that I could not because all the materials in the library had to support the curriculum taught. And then when I watched the Conservative ideologies being removed from the textbooks, we Conservative teachers have worked hard to push those ideologies out of our classroom and teach our children—our students in our classrooms—respect for our Constitution, which has frustrated many so-called education experts out there.
And I wrote a piece about the educational experts. The piece focused on college professors who prepared new teachers but it was just the tip of the iceberg because the organizations like the Aspen Institute, who in 1975 wrote an education policy paper complaining about the Conservative nature of education and those teachers who get in the way of transforming America into a global society has to stop and they worked to federalize education. So when William F. Buckley Jr. is warning us that this is happening—it started at the college level—we’ve got all these education policy papers coming out, we’re going to school—our children are going to school—we’re seeing this change and we’re doing nothing about it.
Bill: Let’s go back again to kind of what I’m making reference to. As you see this change—and I guess where I’m going with this—you see what was the traditional values of this country, as we were talking about earlier and then all of a sudden there is this new or progressive element that comes in. From a religious standpoint, what does…? Because I see this as a battle between two worldviews—two ideologies—as you say. What’s the religious nature of the progressives? What do they believe as ultimate?
Karen: Well as you witnessed—if you watched the Democrat convention—they are not in favor of Christianity. They do not want God in their platform and that is very true when you read God and Man at Yale. Yale was required to put atheists in charge of their religious newspaper and atheists in charge of their religious afterschool activities and several of our schools are facing that now. These progressives are working to get God out of our public square and let’s think about the consequences of that because if our Constitution is founded on the belief that our freedoms are granted from God and not government and they successfully get religion and God out of the public square then our Constitution is null and void and that has been a main goal of theirs. It’s in every educational policy paper since Horace Mann and I’ve got copies of them and I’ve been writing articles about them, giving bits and pieces of information because if you sat down and read them all you would be so concerned. You would think that I was wearing a tinfoil hat because…
Bill: Let’s go backwards and talk about Horace Mann for a little bit because a lot of people think that Horace Mann was an atheist and Horace Mann… Here’s again, this religious nature that I like to bring up so often. Horace Mann was a Christian—a churchman—and he believed that people could be improved by—like Rousseau, I suppose—by their environment and sort of, I guess a George Stephanopoulos kind of guy, if we can just work harder and stay up late enough, that we can take man—and here is the key word, from a doctrinal standpoint, Karen—he said mankind can be perfected. He felt like we could be turned into something perfect through education. And I know Vladimir Ilyich Lenin and others have thought the same thing but you’re right about Horace Mann. I mean there are the elements of really a Unitarian or even an emphasis on oneness in almost a Communist perspective in man, even as he wasn’t writing about Communism but if you read his writings, he really emphasized the one—absorption into the one from the diversity of the many.
Karen: Yes, but all of these… All of these people are not Christians. They may go to church and they may say they are Christians but that is not what our founding fathers and what Jesus taught. Jesus did not say that “You have to be perfect for me to forgive you” and our founding fathers admitted that man is flawed.
Bill: Very good. Yes.
Karen: But they said that the federal government will be more flawed and that if you keep the power—governmental power at the local level—that when errors happen mankind has enough good in them that they will correct their own flaws—that they will evolve and mature—and each generation will have to go through some of that but you cannot expect any human being to be perfect. And Obama is an excellent example. I mean he thinks he is perfect and I’ve never seen anyone more flawed.
Bill: Well, and you just brought up the good example of what bad theology does, right? I mean if you have this false idea of perfectionism then you—in a humanistic way—you struggle and struggle and struggle to try to perfect the man. Rather than see atonement as some sort of step towards perfection or something you see the element—like Mann did—that it all falls on our shoulders to do this and it, for Mann, was again—a religious struggle. So you mentioned something that I think is really important on your website. You talk about “Local control of schools is sacred.” I came across a reading of Jefferson’s and Jefferson said when he was governor of Virginia something that really caught my eye. He said, “I’d rather see the state take over control of the farms and factories than to see the state take over the local schools.” He actually said that. I mean do people not pay any attention?
Karen: No, they don’t. And part… A big part of it is our educational system. We have a President as flawed as this one with a 47-49% approval rating because he’s sitting there saying he wants a fair America. Well then he doesn’t know our Constitution. Our Constitution is the fairest political document available. America is the fairest country available. America is the country that sees its flaw is caused by humans and we have corrected it. We put a stop to slavery. Our nation should be proud of that instead of ashamed for having committed it at one time.
Bill: Yeah, he wants to turn that on its head, doesn’t he?
Karen: That’s right.
Bill: Yeah, and we… That’s something that there was a lot of blood and lamentation over that but we did stop slavery and we did it, again—because we thought some things were more important than other things and we picked that as one of the most despicable of institutions and it was overturned. So you’re absolutely right but these…
Karen: When our government is…our schools are teaching that America is a democracy and they have been teaching that ever since I started teaching in the early ‘70s and it was wrong. In a democracy the government will decide if slavery ends. In a republic the conscience of the citizen decides that slavery will end. And so when you take a government… When an educational system prepares a society to reject this beautiful republic under the false assumption that a republic is unjust and unfair… What’s happening in our educational system is so criminal and so many people say to me “Well Karen, we’ve got to worry about the economy.” Well the economy is the way it is because of our educational system. And then they say, “Well we have to worry about getting the next person elected.” Well they’re not getting elected because of what’s been going on in our educational system.
I have… I have been working with Conservative legislators to write a law that will supersede the Common Core Standards, which I guess we’re going to talk about in a little bit. I wanted them to put Social Studies standards in legislation and they said, “Karen, you don’t have to worry about education anymore because Common Core Standards are coming in and they’re going to save education.” This comes from a Conservative who I have no understanding of Common Core Standards at all and the fact that they’re going to federalize education completely. I was just aghast. And it’s because of our educational… Our legislators do not understand our Constitution and they do not understand our republic and that’s… So why elect them? It doesn’t matter the Party.
Bill: Well you know Cicero said, “You get the kind of government you deserve” and in this case, with respect to how we’re educating people… Listen. Karen, as an employer I hire people and I see a lot of what the public education system delivers. There are exceptions to this, granted, but for the most part what it delivers is something… Man—something that’s… Not only are a lot of folks not really… do they not really have the mindset to make a decision about what’s right and wrong with respect to voting or political issues but just basically being good workers. I think we struggle with just the very most rudimentary issues of Reading and Mathematics and so forth. I’m just trying to talk about hiring employees. I struggle hiring employees here.
Karen: Well you’re absolutely right, however with that said, I have to say that teachers are doing an outstanding job but you see, teachers are not required to prepare children for becoming productive citizens. If you read in any educational paper written between 1890 and 2011, 99.9% of them never mention making sure children acquire knowledge and develop their skills. Every single one of them is transforming America, teaching us that we do not have our rights of private property, we don’t have sovereignty rights, we have to surrender those and convincing us that we should be able to do that. They have spent 100 years convincing our citizens—layer of citizen after layer of citizen—slowly and gradually to surrender these things.
And when you look at the illegal immigration issue that issue is not about who comes across our border. It’s about the fact that we do not have sovereignty anymore and that’s all because of what’s been going on in our schools. If our schools were different we wouldn’t be having this illegal immigration issue. If our schools were different we wouldn’t have 47% of the population supporting Obama. They’d know what Communism is and the historical implication of that. And we don’t… We must get the federal government out of our educational system. We simply must.
Bill: Karen, I talked to Jonathan Emord about a year ago and he was on Reagan’s team early on and if you remember in 1980, Reagan ran and said he was going to dissolve the Department of Education and I said, “Jonathan, did Reagan…? Was that just kind of rhetorical BS or did he really want to do that?” and he looked… You know, the impression that I got was that he—Reagan—really, sincerely felt like that was the most important step in this country—to bringing this country back—was to dissolve… get the federal government and return the schools to states and even better, to the localities that they’re founded.
Karen: Well one of the problems with that issue… One of the things we must do as citizens is change our old strategy for education reform and this is what the old strategy worked like. Imagine your neighbor has… His front yard is filled with dandelions and he knows your concern so he runs around and he picks off the flower heads and he hands them to you and says, “There, I’ve solved the problem.” But what’s been happening? That root is getting longer and deeper and stronger and pretty soon—next week—each plant produces multiple flower heads instead of just one. That’s how we’ve been dealing with the educational issue.
When people say, “Let’s get rid of the Department of Education,” one has to say, “Well, what does the Department of Education do?” What it does is it disseminates the federal dollars allocated by the federal government and then it makes sure that the mandates that go with those dollars are properly implemented. You can’t get rid of the Department of Education if you don’t get rid of the federal dollars. So… And it’s the same thing with the educational experts. They’re all frustrated—“Well we’ve got to deal with these educational experts”—and they do them one at a time and they make no progress. The educational experts that are the most destructive to the educational system are being funded through grants and federal tax dollars. Common Core Standards are created because a group of institutions who write education policy get a lot of their funding through our federal tax dollars.
So instead of saying, “Well we’re going to deal with the Department of Education and we’re going to deal with Common Core…” let’s focus it. What is the root of all three of those problems? Federal funding of education. So if we focused on getting the federal government out of education, reallocating those dollars to the states and reinstating local control of schools, what we will accomplish is getting rid of those three bad problems we just talked about plus shrinking the government—the federal government—by about 30% because that’s about what education is—or whatever that actual percentage is. I suppose someone could argue with me on the exact percentage. But… And then we will reinstate local control of schools and our children will start learning the things they need to be productive citizens again.
Bill: Well, do you think that the United Nations should have…? I mean I’m a sovereignty guy. I kind of react wildly when someone starts talking about the United Nations superseding what states and local schools are trying to accomplish. Talk a little bit about the funding. What are these organizations that are trying to push these standards?
Karen: Well, there are thousands of them, literally. And let me give you one simple example. I have copies of over a hundred different education policy papers dated from 1890 to 2011 and they’re all focused on the same thing. Most of them are 200-400 pages long. There is only one exception that is really worth our time and that is a document from the Aspen Institute called “A New Civic Literacy: American Education and Global Interdependence” and the reason I go to this one is because it’s only 30 pages long and the first 10 pages tell you everything you need to know because everything in those 10-11 pages you can find spread out in all the other documents.
And here is one of the things they say. Now this… The Aspen Institute document was written in 1975 but if you read this document you will recognize phrases that our President uses. And it says that the real purpose of education is “to enhance the capacity for Americans to cope with global interdependence” and then they define global interdependence. They say it is “to give up the dream of the little white house on its own quarter acre of land in suburbia and the permanent loss of personal mobility at will through enforced dependence on public transportation.”
Bill: That sounds like the Obama platform.
Karen: Exactly. And it has been a platform since the 1970s. And then you were talking about the United Nations. Well this Aspen Institute document talks about tolerance. Well did you know that the United Nations UNESCO did a whole paper on peace and tolerance and changed the definition of tolerance? And ever since 19—I think it was ’82—that the definition… 1995. The definition has changed to include acceptance. So when they’re talking tolerance, you and I think it means to simply acknowledge and to deal with where they’re saying it means you’re going to accept. And so if you don’t have a current dictionary and you’re not looking up the new definition of that word, you don’t really know what they’re saying to you.
And that’s part of… And the United Nations has been involved in our educational system heavily since the 1970s. They have been playing a role in shaping education policy and then they’ve played a role in shaping the textbooks and they talk about that in these policy papers all over the place, about how this Aspen Institute document talks about how they need to eliminate local control of school because they say, “It’s been hard enough for the local school boards and state school officers to cope with the students. Coping with international interdependence can surely be left for the federal government.” You see, we’re too dumb to handle really important stuff and schools dealing with multiplication facts and grammar—that’s not very important. Global interdependence is important and they use that to justify the federal government taking more and more control of our schools and it’s been happening slowly and… And we just sit back and let it happen and we are not complaining about the content of this curriculum.
Bill: So… And I think it’s because a lot of people—a lot of parents—have also… You’re talking about second and third generations now, Karen. So… And I don’t mean this to be demeaning in any way because we all come from sort of humble backgrounds. I went to public school and so I understand all of these things but do you think at some point that we’re growing up a little dumber than we should and then we’re not able to recognize what’s introduced into the kids’ classroom because we’re kind of dumb and we’re…? I mean I’m talking about our generation. I’m 54 years old. I’m talking about my generation. We’re kind of dumb and I’m kind of dumb. And so we don’t… We’re not quick to make distinctions about things the way maybe earlier generations were.
Karen: There is some truth to that and it’s been intentional. I mean it’s even… They even say that in these documents. “We want these people… We’re going to change the definition of the words. We’re going to change the focus of the Social Studies books to turn the Americans into—the colonists—into oppressors and we’re going to focus and create heroes out of those who fought against the colonists—the founding fathers.” So it was intentional to get us to be willing to disrespect and surrender our Constitution. Common Core Standards are coming in, which gives the federal government the right to decide what is in every textbook in every classroom across the United States and I have been working on this for so long, I happen to know that one of the things they’re talking about making as part of a lesson is they’re going to say to a sixth grader, for example, “Here is our Constitution. I want you to… and see, these are amendments and you can see over its history it’s been amended because it’s flawed. So we would like you 11 year old, sixth grade child, to read this Constitution and see what you perceive—perceive—to be a flaw and we’d like you to write an amendment.” And it doesn’t… How can you argue with someone’s perception?
Karen: So then this 11 year old is going to perceive something to be a flaw and he’s going to write an amendment and everyone in this room is going to find a different flaw and write a different amendment and the teacher is going to give them all As because they were so visionary.
Bill: Oh sure. Yeah.
Karen: And so they’re going to leave that classroom thinking, “My goodness, this Constitution’s a piece of garbage. Why would I spend a moment fighting for that—defending it? I can’t defend it” and that’s what they want. They want us to surrender our Constitution, our sovereignty for this one world order and they need that desperately because they want unfettered access to all—from our water to our minerals to everything.
Bill: Well, let’s go back for a second. Now as a teacher, did you see a lot of sort of deconstructionist—this Diderot—did you see a lot of this, like the exercise you just mentioned? That’s a sly way of just breaking things down and saying that there is no meaning and the meaning is up to you, like studying the Bible saying, “Well how do you feel about that, little boy—that Bible verse?” And so it’s really hard to have any objective standards when you’re telling the child that the essence of the universe is subjectivity and it’s his and he’s at the center of the universe and you create a very different child than you do, say, than what came out of that colonial period—let’s say Patrick Henry. You’d never raise up a Patrick Henry using techniques like that.
Karen: No. And yes, I did. And as I mentioned before, this Aspen Institute document complains about Conservative teachers and how they’ve slowed and hindered the progress of transforming America and this was written in 1975 and that time I was teaching and I remember one of my questions in the Social Studies class was “What form of government is the United States?” and the correct answer was supposed to be “republic” but the textbook at the time mentioned a republic—it had about a one sentence definition—did not go into much detail about it at all and nothing about the historical implications and perspective of how societies that functioned under a republic compared to others. And then they had this long part about how America is a democracy. Well it wasn’t a democracy. And as a Conservative teacher I was teaching my children that it wasn’t a democracy, that the textbook is flawed.
Well now they’re… In many schools they have even less about a republic and one of my board of directors is a very wealthy lady and she’s been sending her son to a private Catholic school and paying over $20,000 a year to do this and they went to conferences and all over the room are these social justice curricula and social justice—for those of you who aren’t real familiar with it—is what Obama advocates and it’s really another word for Marxism, where it’s a collectivism. You have to respect collectivism. And when she and her husband expressed some concern with that the teacher said, “But this is what I’m told I have to teach” and this is a Catholic school—a Catholic, private, expensive school. And that school takes vouchers and when you take vouchers you have to accept federal standards and if you don’t, you don’t get the voucher money.
Bill: Yeah, so it’s follow the cash again because that’s—as you said at the beginning of the conversation—that’s what drives… So much is following the money. But you’re right about the nature of how things have changed. I… You know Karen I don’t even hear Romney and Paul Ryan use the word “republic.” I hear them use the word “democracy.” So if your ostensible leaders really are illiterate with respect to the type of government we have then how can you expect us lesser folks—us little people—to really follow you? We’re following you down the democratic path and that’s not—as you say… What did Franklin say to the lady when he walked out of the convention? “A republic ma’am, if you can keep it.” Well apparently we couldn’t keep it.
Karen: Well we have three years left because Common Core Standards will completely federalize education and when that happens we’ll have no more control over education than we have over our Social Security and how that’s handled or Medicare or what we will have over ObamaCare. But it’s going to take approximately three years for the Common Core Standards to be written for each subject and implemented across the United States. Already in many states groups of parents are fighting against Common Core Standards. What a waste of energy. I would rather… I would wish and pray that they would organize instead and demand that the federal government get out of education and that those dollars be reallocated to the states. And it’s so important to connect those two subjects because when you just say, “Get the federal government out of education” people say, “Well we can’t do that because we need the money.” Well yeah, we need the money so give the money back to us. You should never have taxed us that amount anyhow, in the first place. The federal government should not…
Did you know that in the 1890s the Supreme Court ruled income taxes sinful and unconstitutional? And they had to pass an amendment to tax our income. Our founding fathers did not want our incomes taxed for this very reason. So if we’re going to save our republic—if we are going to save our republic—we must have a unified message and that message must be “Get the federal government out of education, reallocate those dollars to the states and reinstate local control of schools” and by George, our parents need to start doing their own research on the history of our country. Hillsdale College provides free Constitution classes over the internet and it’s one of the finest colleges in the United States. It does not accept any federal dollars at all. We need… We’ve got so… Look, if we don’t, we’re going to lose our republic completely.
Bill: I totally agree. I know Larry Arrn and my daughter went to Hillsdale—played basketball there—so we’re big fans of Hillsdale. That’s certainly one resource. Your web page is another great resource. You want to tell people what your web page is again, just as a tip of the spear kind of web page?
Karen: Well my business is called Advocates for Academic Freedom and if you type in your search engine “Advocates for Academic Freedom” sometimes it will say, “Advocates for Conservatism and Education” because somebody else kind of gave us that name but both of them are me and when you log on there is a button that lists the seminars that I give but I will also… I will talk about any educational topic and I will gladly debate any Democrat or educator on them. And I have a blog page, which gives some samples of most of my writing. My writing is not educational as much as it is “How do social and political policies impact the classroom?”
So my work is a little more political than educational. And one of the reasons I called it Advocates for Academic Freedom is as a teacher I got frustrated with my fellow teachers always pushing their academic freedom and the dictionary definition says, “to teach or to study without fear of reprisal” and so I have constantly been trying to remind teachers that the student has academic freedom as well and that they need to respect the academic freedom of every child and that includes Conservative children who have the right to pray, to love God, to say the Pledge of Allegiance, to be a patriot, to be loyal to their Constitution and their country and to advocate abstinence without being mocked.
Bill: Yeah, and I think to go back to the… We were talking earlier about these roots. Really, I mean this idea of liberal arts has been turned on its head just like we’ve talked about Obama turning things on its head. Liberal arts used to mean—in the old days—that you… a child was raised up educationally in what were the responsibilities of being a free man, a free woman in society. That was the definition of the word, just the Latin transfer. So I think, “How do we stay free?” should be the focus of education. We raise kids up and they… To what extent does education keep us free? And I don’t just mean that in a political sense. There is a moral bondage and moral slavery that you mention that’s important as well. So really, education has this salvific sense—and I’m not talking about soteriology in the sense of “What’s your religious…? How do you think you’re saved?” that way—but really, when we raise kids up we’re telling them how to live the good life, how to be free from certain threats. Some of your fellow teachers perceive threats to be you.
Bill: So they’re changing the game on us, Karen.
Karen: Well, they’ve been changing the game and the vocabulary since Horace Mann. I talked to you about the word “tolerance” and then we also mentioned the word “perception.” Well in God and Man at Yale, written by William F. Buckley Jr., he talks about how truth was removed from education by the 1950s and replaced with perception and he talked about how that impacted education, including something as joyful and necessary as debate club. If you’re going to deal with perceptions you can’t have a debate and that’s the point. That was the purpose of it. And so they have been changing all of our vocabulary.
When I was a teacher you could use the term “I’m teaching for mastery” with pride and now it means something quite different because they’ve manipulated the definitions of so many of our words. And so my suggestion is to do your own reading, get books that were written before 1950 and—well gosh, even in the 1920s… I’ve got a history book from the 1920s that’s progressive. Really look into who those authors are. Get back to getting the federal government out of education first and then we can repair the damage to the dictionary and the Bible and the history books and everything else that they’ve destroyed in the process of trying to manipulate us into this robotic society they’re creating.
Bill: Early on, in the ‘60s, RJ Rushdoony wrote The Messianic Character of American Education and I think that has been a book that has influenced me heavily. I’d recommend that to our audience as well in really sort of dissecting some of the things that you’re saying, Karen. I mean Rush kind of breaks it apart theologically, philosophically and historically. He tells the same stories that you’re telling. How did this come about? How did we find ourselves in this…? And you know I’ve got to think on some level, like so many things we talk about—the old spiritual song that said, “It’s not my mother or my father, my brother or my sister. It’s me, Oh Lord, standing in the need of prayer”—really, we all… This idea of blaming something on someone… And listen—there are people to blame but a good place to start is yourself.
Bill: You know “Want a better world? Clean up your garage” was the old thing that Dostoyevsky used to say. So we can start, as you say, by educating ourselves as parents and we’ve got to start giving tools and as you’re saying, I think there is a few players… You know this is Off the Grid News and there are so many folks that are inside the belly of the beast, as you were, trying to teach or trying to do a good job. They need support.
Karen: Oh, thank you. Oh, I can’t tell you…
Bill: Well, no seriously. I mean it’s okay. Here’s what happened in Europe, right? I mean some pilgrims came to this country and they bailed but you know what? There were other people that stayed and fought with Charles the First and to sort of absolutize the pilgrims were coming here and saying, “Oh, there’s nothing left for those people that stayed and fought.” I think that’s just not a good read of history and not a good read of mankind. There are heroes that stayed and fought the same battles that the… The Puritans fought a little different battle but those folks in the public school system—they need materials. They need support. They need organization. They need prayer.
Karen: Can I give you an example of that? As a classroom teacher, I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you said that. If you look at a Republican candidate platform paper they don’t even mention education in them. And when I was teaching there were so many instances like this particular one. We had a group of immigrants who did not want to be in America. They were political immigrants and they refused to stand and say the pledge of the flag and they crossed their arms and we Conservative teachers felt that it was insulting and we talked about how even though we were already insubordinate… We were supposed to do the pledge only once a week and we were doing it every day. And we talked about how what we really wanted to do was have those children stand and explained to them they did not have to say the words to the pledge but they will stand to show respect for the parents of every child in that classroom who was paying for their free education. And the class… The other teachers said, “Well I’m not going to do that because I have a family and I have no support and the union won’t really support me because I’m not a strong union member” and so they were quiet. But I was in a position where I was determined and I could do that and take the risk.
All of those teachers would have done it if they thought that they could go to their local county Republican Party and say, “This is what happened in my classroom and this is what I said and now they’ve threatened me with a disciplinary action of some form.” And the local Party would say, “Oh really? Well we’ll go to that school board and we’re going to shake our finger in their faces and tell them that you are teaching respect for America and patriotism and we support that and you’ve done nothing wrong and if they discipline you we’ll make sure…” maybe the next referendum won’t pass. If Conservative teachers knew that they had that kind of support there would be more of us doing more to protect our children in our classrooms from some of this garbage.
Bill: Well there is nobody to even… Like in the NFL there are people mad that we have replacement refs but there are no refs to appeal to. It’s like you were saying, in the English Civil War and in the Revolutionary War the patriots of those two respective wars used to carry placards as they sort of were fomenting against tyranny but their appeal was a transcendent appeal. So their appeal was to God—appeal to Heaven. They would carry placards and signs that said, “Appeal to Heaven.” They were appealing outside. You don’t have anybody… Maybe you should… We should give them signs that say, “Appeal to Heaven” or something like the Revolutionary War heroes had but who is there to appeal to for a teacher who comes from a Conservative Christian background, he or she gets thrown in this matrix and they have to survive economically and what can you do?
Karen: Exactly. Well, many of us do a lot. We can’t do as much as we would like, as I revealed through several examples here but if we had some support base and I’ve been working so hard with the Republican Party to try to get them to give monthly educational updates to their political party members so that the new leaders coming out of that group will have some basics in education and understand. I mean just even if some of our legislators understood what we’ve talked about today we wouldn’t be in the mess we’re in because Republican legislators signed Agenda 21 and Conference of the Child and several other things that have caused harm. So our Republicans and our Tea Party people… Well the Tea Party is starting to… They invite me to speak to a lot of events and they have other educators there too. They focus on education a lot more than the Republican Party does and I see them—Conservative teachers—going toward the Tea Party movement more and more.
Bill: Well that’s a great outlet. At least they have something and the Tea Party, in some cases, are reelecting some people—or at least helping to elect. We’ve got a homeschool guy in our district that was elected and understands education and so you’re seeing more and more of that where someone can appeal to folks that at least have the knowledge. But to bring the awareness—that’s what you’re doing. That’s what I like about what you’re doing is bringing awareness. Most people don’t see any conflict in this and I think that was the period of time… There’s conflict always and we’ve got to recognize where we’re at in history and what previous conflicts looked like. We talked about Mann. We talked about other issues. During Roman days you had sort of the… just an inheritance from the Greeks, maybe this idea of “polis”—the city-state—as being the unifying factor. And you’ve got… That was the world that Christ was born into, right? And so when Christ came along and said, “Hey, the unifying factor isn’t the polis” there was conflict. You know Stauffer wrote that book of Christ and the Caesars where the real nature of the conflict there was between ultimate values. I like what you’re doing for that because of that reason.
Karen: And there is a bit of a conflict in the Republican Party. So many parents who homeschool their children… Some of them have called me and said, “Karen, stop what you’re doing. Put all your energy and your writing skills” and all this other stuff “towards vouchers and choice.” Oh, I could go on. We should have another whole program on choice but my point for today is I say to them “Open up the Social Studies textbook you are using for your homeschooling or your private school and then go to your local public school and look at that. Compare a comparable book for the same grade level and if you see in your text that you’re using in your homeschool setting that there is a significant difference I will do that” and I’ve never yet had a parent do that except one who was using a Christian set of books, which because it was so Christian oriented rather than a little more neutral—general… If it were just a general religion focus it would work but because it’s truly Christian, it doesn’t.
And so what I’m saying to these homeschooling parents—“You need to know what’s going on with the federal government because once these Common Core Standards are in place the only remaining local control of schools is taxation and they already have a plan ready to make the United States into a grid system because that will make it fairer.” They will put wealthier sections of the United States with poorer sections and therefore your property taxes will no longer support those schools and then all school choice will be gone because what the federal government will say is “Those of you who homeschool are not preparing your children for a global economy and your children are going to be a burden on the rest of us and therefore you must send your children to a public school so we can prepare them adequately for this global economy and if you don’t, we’re going to fine you every day you’re not there”—just the way they’re doing for ObamaCare and insurance.
Bill: That’s coming and people need to realize that—homeschoolers and Christian private-schoolers—everybody needs to realize that control is coming because two gods can’t coexist and again, this is the theme of everything that I try to talk about on this show. You can’t… There is no neutrality. There is a vacuum that will fill and one god—the god of secular humanism—doesn’t like this other god and plurality is something that is temporary. Pluralism is always temporary until whatever driving force that wants to win prevails and kicks the other guys out and that’s what’s coming here.
Karen: Exactly. And that’s why you can’t have a little piece of a god there. You can’t have part of the federal government controlling education.
Bill: Well said.
Karen: You have to get the federal government out of education. The only job… The founding fathers wanted the federal government only to make sure that every community with 50 families or more was providing a quality education for their children and that they did have… they were presenting knowledge and comprehensive analysis of religion and teaching morality. So those were the three things that they did inspect those schools and make sure they were going on and every child was getting an equal education. That’s it. That’s all the federal government should do. They should have no financial connection at all to education.
Bill: Well Karen, pledging allegiance to a republic that’s under a god is a pretty big statement. I’m going to give… That’s where I think we need to return to. I’m going to give you the last word as we wind down here. Tell us what you’re up to next and we’re going to try to get you back on the show. We’re going to try to get you to write for us a little bit and after we hang up—after we close the show down—I want you to hang on and I’d love to talk to you a little bit about that as well. So do you have any final words for us?
Karen: Well, I would like to encourage everyone to talk to your legislators and ask them why aren’t they including education on their palm card. Why aren’t they talking about education? I do give seminars to help Republicans and Tea Party candidates deal with the jargon in education and the negative approaches used by the opposition and I give a four hour seminar to help them with that so that’s one of the things I’m doing. The other thing is I am encouraging every citizen out there to get all their family members and friends together and focus on one message—“Get the federal government out of education, reallocate those dollars to the states and reinstate local control of schools”—and if our federal legislators work with our state legislators this can be done progressively and rather painlessly by simply transferring some federal legislation to the states and then dealing with the finances as they go, a little bit at a time and they could accomplish it in a four year period. So there is no reason this cannot happen but we must be strong, determined and unified.
Bill: Well said and for those considering having you come and speak, on your website—on this website Advocates for Academic Freedom—is a list of all the topics that Karen is willing to talk about and so give that some consideration as well. And as we wind down Karen, I want to thank you. Hang on, like I said. And as we wind down, we want to thank everybody for tuning in today. We know your time is extremely valuable. We thank you for spending it with us.