On January 1st, California public schools will be required to teach children about the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in their social sciences curriculum. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill on Thursday, in a move that guarantees that the religious liberty of California residents who send their kids to public schools will be violated. But, the effects will be felt throughout the entire country’s public school systems.
I’m the product of public schools, where I learned about dangling participles, Davy Crockett, and the safest way to carry a shot gun through a forest on hunting expeditions. (No exaggeration – in 7th grade, one semester of science was exclusively hunter’s safety.) Our modest, rural schools weren’t flashy, but we were educated well enough that my husband – who attended Kentucky public schools — thrived at Harvard Law School and I held my own at New York University.
When we had our own kids, we sent our daughter to public school and congratulated ourselves for not spending as much money for kindergarten as the annual Gross National Product of Kazakhstan. I told one parent “I’ll teach your toddler to identify yellow in exchange for your $14,000 tuition.” Even more than avoiding private school’s price, I believed the racial, financial, and religious diversity of public school was good for her general education.
On our first day, I nervously walked her into the concrete playground and worried she wouldn’t eat her lunch quickly enough or grasp the complicated art of shoe-tying. But after surviving the first tearful week, her year was marked with the typical joys of school — visiting the fire station and playing the first blonde mother of Martin Luther King Jr. in the school play. Then, about half-way through the year, the Philadelphia Public School system began using a curriculum that advocates moral equivalence between heterosexual and homosexual parents. This gave me pause. While I wanted her to be around people of all faiths, I didn’t want the schools to undermine our own. A religious Jew with a daughter at the school successfully convinced our school not to teach this curriculum, but the public school “culture war” was just beginning.
When we sent her to a magnet school, they only allowed a politically correct version of the Pledge of Allegiance from the intercom every day, deleting “under God” so no one – except Americans who believe in the democratically-decided Pledge – would be offended. Teachers wore “John Kerry for President” buttons during class and the art projects on the walls declared “Americans hate George Bush because he is a liar.” Additionally, the school system proudly proclaimed October as “Gay and Lesbian History Month” on the school calendars it sent home to the families of its students.
What can we learn from Gov. Brown and the Bizarro World of the public school system? That they are not encumbered by a pesky little thing called the United States Constitution. For Christians, the establishment clause has been wrongly used to establish a “wall of separation between church and state.” Teachers, for example, cannot (and should not) explicitly promote Christianity in public schools. But for liberals, the establishment clause is meaningless. Their ideas are considered “secular,” even though the scope of modern liberalism encompasses almost every area of life – from sexuality to family to poverty and race relations. Therefore, they’re able to launch a complete assault on almost everything a Christian student believes, and there’s nothing a parent or the courts can do to stop them.
The bottom line is this: both the Left and the Right hold political world views with the same amount of religious intensity, yet only one side is allowed to use a branch of the government to promote their viewpoint.
By the time California’s Governor signed this into law this week, we had already packed our backpacks and headed to a private Christian school in Tennessee. I like to say that this is the second religious school she’s attended. The first – run by the Philadelphia Public School System – taught her reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and the ideology of the Left. The second – run by Zion Presbyterian Church – teaches her reading, ‘riting, ‘rithmetic, and the worldview of Christianity.
This means we’re faced with large monthly tuition bills to cover her private education, but the price of public education was just more than we could afford.