Remember when Cynthia Dunbar, then a member of the Texas State Board of Education, wrote that public schools are unconstitutional, “tyrannical” and “a subtly deceptive tool of perversion”? In the three years since then, the religious right’s campaign to undermine public education in America has become only louder. The newest tool in the right’s war on public schools is a propaganda video — “IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America” — from a Texas-based director who home-schools his kids.
The video and its backers are at least honest about their goal to persuade Christian parents to withdraw their children from public schools. The video’s website includes this endorsement from far-right syndicated columnist Cal Thomas:
“Every Christian parent with a child in a government school should see this [movie] and be forced to confront their unwillingness to do what Scripture requires for the children on loan to them by God. A mass exodus from government schools is the only way to preserve the souls and minds of our children, whether it gets the attention of politicians or not…and it would.”
All parents certainly have the right to choose whether to send their children to public or private schools. But the video appears to be full of the same kind of extremist, anti-public education rhetoric Dunbar employed. Here’s a clip from the video’s trailer:
From various folks featured in the clip:
“They are stealing our children. But because they are leaving the body of the child with us, we don’t even know it’s happening.”
“If I had my way, government education would be brought to a halt.”
“Trying to fix public education is like trying to teach a pig how to dance. You get dirty; the pig gets mad.”
“Turning your children over to total strangers and having those strangers work on your child’s mind. It’s a mad idea!”
“Public schools have become a criminal enterprise.”
Dunbar’s rhetoric was, in some ways, even more objectionable. She didn’t just seek to undermine public education. Dunbar actually wanted to turn public schools into venues for promoting her own particular religious and ideological views, from creationist arguments in science classes to historical revisionism about the nation’s founders and the Constitution in social studies classrooms. And some members of the State Board of Education are still pushing the same agenda, which is why the 2012 elections — when all 15 state board seats are on the ballot — will be critical to the future of public education in Texas.