Alabama Republican Leader: Adoption of Common Core Will Lead to Indoctrination of Children… Just Like Hitler Wanted

Here’s a lesson in public speaking: Never, ever, ever ask your audience if they “remember the quote by Hitler” to make your point. Unless you’re clearly saying it as a joke, whatever you’re about to say will be used against you.

But that’s what Alabama Federation of Republican Women president Elois Zeanah said to bring up the point that childhood indoctrination would lead to a changed society.

And what is she referring to?

President Obama’s apparent plan to “indoctrinate” children via the adoption of a national set of education standards known as Common Core:

Common Core won’t centralize education decisions. It gets rid of choice and competition. It dictates what children will learn in classrooms. It subjects teachers to groupthink to change their mindset. And it controls children’s minds to change society.

With this introduction, I ask you: How would you like to drop off your children or grandchildren at school knowing that Barack Obama would be their teacher?

Your child or grandchildren won’t be able to escape Common Core materials that are anti-Christian, anti-capitalism, and anti-America. Or that are pro-homosexuality, illegal immigration, unions, environmentalism, gun control, feminism and social justice.

Do you see what’s happening? The Obama administration and progressives have found a way to take away choices from parents and to get rid of competition in education. And to add insult to injury, they’re gonna force us to pay to indoctrinate our own kids.

This is not a novel like 1994. It’s Common Core.


She said 1994.

This woman railing against the future of education in this country just made reference to the novel 1994.

And you have to believe this woman who fights the idea of indoctrination has no problem whatsoever with Sunday School…

For what it’s worth, Common Core is a voluntary set of standards that, for the most part, would encourage higher-level thinking that’s more applicable to our lives instead of just rote skills and memorizing. There are valid criticisms against it, but I assure you none of them involve the word “indoctrination.”

This diatribe is nothing but a misrepresentation of what Common Core is, what President Obama wants, what our schools need, and how the human brain works.

And that, my friends, is how Zeanah became one of the leaders in the Republican party.

Incidentally, it was just last week when Christian radio host Julie Roys complained that Common Core was a plot by secularists to starve children’s souls because the standards would add more non-fiction reading material to the curriculum.

Silly me, I thought that would be the weirdest right-wing rant against education I heard this month.

Common Core is in no way a Democratic tool to indoctrinate children. In fact, the official website points out “The federal government was NOT involved in the development of the standards.” Instead, teachers, principals, and superintendents helped develop the standards.

Zeanah has no idea what she’s talking about — and it shows. You can watch the full speech here if you need something else to *facepalm* about.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Kevin_Of_Bangor

    How would you like to drop off your children or grandchildren at school knowing that Barack Obama would be their teacher?

    As long as he was qualified to teach the subject I think that would be pretty kick ass to have a sitting or former President teaching my daughter and maybe one day my grandchildren.

    And for some reason this image kept coming to my brain as I read what Hemant wrote.

  • Spanish Inquisitor

    I never heard that quote by Hitler before, but it sounds strikingly similar to the one by the unnamed Jesuit “Give me the child until the age of 7 and I’ll give you the man”.

    Hope I have that quote right.

  • chicago dyke

    UChi grad here. i haven’t looked into Common Core stuff for the federal program yet, but if it’s anything like what we had, yeah. the religious right should fear it.

    the general idea is that no matter what field a student ends up choosing to study for a profession, all students study the “basics.” math. science. literature. writing. history. social sciences. in small classes, no bigger than 20, taught by a PhD.

    it’s like a more extensive version of graduation requirements at other schools. basket weaving and skeet shooting don’t count; even if you’re in the poetry department program, you still have to take Basic Physics 101. and 102.

    my private high school had a similar program. we called it the “blue and gold” curriculum. in order to graduate, we had to study a common core (“blue”), and earn “gold” points working at a job or internship, and in at least one sport a year, no matter what our ability. “a healthy mind in a healthy body” sort of stuff.

    this is how the children of the Rich are educated. it’s wrong that everyone does not enjoy this, because it works. this nation can afford to give all children Country Day and UChicago style educations, and it should.

    this online “university” crap annoys me. as does the mega university classroom environment where 500 students sit bored and untutored by a foreign TA who barely speaks english. i know i’ll get downvoted for saying this, but trust me. there really is a difference b/w selective, elite schools and the McEducation people are getting at other schools the republicans have cut funding from and watered down. call me a snob, but i am telling you, if you can, you want to send your child to a “common core” type school.

  • Dan Marshall

    Hemant, of *course* the book would be 1994 in her mind. That was when Clinton was president. You don’t think that an oppressive dystopia could have existed under Reagan’s watch, do you?

  • Achron Timeless

    Ok, we’re all laughing to ourselves but I figured I’d throw this up here for any confused republicans that wander in:

    The book title she meant was 1984, despite talking about a narrative that more resembled Brave New World. So, she doubly screwed up.

    Two wrongs don’t make a right Elois, they cause us to make fun of you.

  • Derp

    Tea Party? Not even surprised.

  • Librepensadora

    Oh the horror of contemplating a generation of children raised to believe in social justice, fair treatment of women, safeguarding the environment, and gun control. I don’t think the Christian capitalists of America could cope.

  • Glasofruix

    Wait, unions are a bad thing now?

  • Achron Timeless

    Having experienced the public education of rural Kentucky, I can say this is sorely needed. Despite taking even advanced level courses in high school, the majority of what I know was self taught to stay competitive in quick recall competitions for the academic team.

    To this day I still struggle with math as a result of literally having math classes shut down for months at a time to train us how to game the standardized tests their funding was based on. Junior year my geometry class was only taught half the semester because the teacher was in charge of doing decorations for dances and events, so she used us as labor instead of teaching geometry.

    The Common Core standards would do a lot to keep that from happening, or very quickly get rid of teachers who think that’s the proper way to educate. I struggle with math, but I can make a damn fancy paper streamer braid. Thanks public education…

  • 3lemenope

    Usually it is attributed to Francis Xavier, occasionally to Ignatius Loyola. Both are plausible, and both conveniently were Jesuits.

  • blasphemous_kansan

    And it’s “Godwin’s law” blasting out of the gate in the early lead, followed closely by “Are you f&*king kidding me?” and “What century am I in?” nipping right at his heels. And now rounding the first bend it’s “Persecution Complex” and “Christian Privilege” making a break for the middle of the pack, followed very closely by “Teh Gay” and “Soshulism BAD”.
    Rounding the last bend, it’s still “Godwin’s Law” in the lead, but we have a surprise appearance by “Educational Travesty” and “Orwellian Failure” making a late break, but I don’t think it will be enough at this point.
    And it’s “Godwin’s Law” that wins in a photo finish against “Tea for Two”!!! What a race folks!!!
    So we had Godwin’s Law, Christian privilege, persecution complexes, Socialism scares, gay fearmongering, and a little illiteracy tossed in for good measure while bashing the educational system. This race really had it all, folks.

  • coyotenose

    Why am I reminded of a FB post I wrote the other day…

    Why is it when someone talks about “thought
    crimes”, “The Party”, and “groupthink”*, it’s always a dead giveaway
    that they’re a lying nit who has never actually read Orwell**?

    *Double giveaway there. They always think “groupthink” is Orwellian. It
    isn’t. They mean “doublethink”… or they WOULD, if they weren’t
    anti-intellectual nits.

    **They also always invoke his writings
    positively in an anti-Socialism rant, which is a triple giveaway. Orwell
    was a socialist who specifically opined that it was the only way to
    preserve freedom of speech and battle dictatorships.

  • Edmond

    Who else thought of Mary McDonnell and Beth Grant in Donnie Darko?
    “Do you even know who Graham Greene is?”
    “I think we have all seen Bonanza.”

  • 3lemenope

    Even if one did agree with all those things, the elephant in the room isn’t so much what you value but *how* exactly you intend to implement those values in behaviors and policies. People can have very different notions of what it means to provide social justice, treat women with respect, protect the environment, or properly regulate gun access, much less what means are appropriate to achieve each end.

    Don’t get me wrong; I don’t think that the FUD that Ms. Zeanah and her ilk tend to spread is in any way valuable. I do think, though, it’s a good idea to approach such broad topics with the enduring sense that they are unsettled, at least in the details.

  • SeekerLancer

    What would crazy people reference if we didn’t have Hitler or 1984? Or, uh… 1994?

  • Puzzled

    Um, pardon me, but shouldn’t we secularists prefer instead that education teach children to think critically and make their own decisions, not indoctrinate them with any particular positions on questions? That said, I think 4 out of those 5 can be seen as things that one can instill a general concern for without taking particular positions, but one is simply a naked political position. I don’t think schools should be in the business of deciding for the next generation what the politics should be. If they were, we’d hold back society from progressing by letting the old folks decide what the young ones will believe.

    Teachers should hope that their students take what they teach them, and combine it with their own thinking, to come up with options the teachers could not imagine.

  • Puzzled

    I also oppose Common Core, but not for any of these reasons, and you’re right, the word ‘indoctrination’ never came to mind when looking at them. The word “repackaging” did, though, particularly in my two subjects: math and history. I’ll grant that the introduction to the math standards was great, and the general standards are great. I just don’t think a set of standards is the way to actually make this happen.

  • 3lemenope

    Sometimes I doubt your commitment to Sparkle Motion.

  • Brian Westley

    Don’t you remember Reagan firing the striking air traffic controllers and handling all the air traffic himself?

  • Michael W Busch

    Which one of Librepensadora’s points were you calling ‘a naked political position’?

  • Michael W Busch

    I wouldn’t recommend him as an elementary school teacher (different skill set), but we know that President Obama would be a good law school professor. After all, he was a lecturer on constitutional law at U. Chicago for 12 years. The law school offered him a full-time professorship on several occasions, but he declined because he wanted to continue his political career.

    But we should perhaps not expect anyone who asks that question to be asking it seriously.

  • 3lemenope

    Probably the worst example ever, since PATCO was way out of line and the firings were both legal and appropriate. They foolishly misunderstood their actual negotiating leverage (thinking themselves indispensable), and asked for truly absurd concessions. In 1981, air traffic controllers made $20,462–49,229 in 1981 dollars ($50,890–122,436 in 2012 dollars) and were demanding a $10,000 annual salary bump (which would be like going into your boss’ office today and asking for a $24,870 pay raise). Along with other goodies, like exemption from the civil service regs.

  • 3lemenope

    I suspect it would be the “gun control” one. And they’re right insofar as it is a more straightforwardly political issue than the other three, which have more dimensions.

  • C Peterson

    Study after study shows that the reason U.S. students generally underperform students in other developed countries is because of our lack of a common curriculum. This affects all subjects, but is particularly a problem in the STEM areas.

    A movement towards a common curriculum is a step in the right direction. Now if we could just find a way to provide common funding.

    (You have to wonder at the lack of confidence displayed by so many parents, who feel that they are unable to raise their kids within their own belief systems simply because of what those kids pick up in school.)

  • Michael W Busch

    But, like the others, the obligation of the educator is to provide the students with accurate information – which includes things like “all other things being equal, higher rates of gun ownership mean more murders”, “Guns are far more often used for aggression than for defense”, and “Most firearms injuries are self-inflicted”.

    When a political position is based on inaccurate information, it will conflict with education.

  • Charles Chambers

    Wow. Seems like this lady should have a job as a bill collector rather than her present occupation.

    I’m an elementary teacher and I support the common core. As long as we measure the students based on progress and improvement.

    The common core just encourages deep thinking, apparently something this politician is scared of.

  • anniewhoo

    And environmentalism too… because apparently republicans don’t require air.

  • Shannon Kish

    I’m sorry, when did being “Pro-social justice” become a bad thing?

  • 3lemenope

    Even rather straightforward issues are done disservice by presenting rather arguable statements as simple fact. Of the three you presented, the second is claiming to measure something that at the least is extremely difficult to measure (and smuggles in a false dilemma, since the vast majority of owned guns in the US are used for neither), and the third is flatly inaccurate. You would be correct if it said “firearm deaths”, but firearm injuries overall are about two-and-a-half times more likely to be non-self inflicted than self-inflicted; which points in turn to a problem with what the factoid conceals through omission, which is that the large majority of gunshot wounds from all sources are non-fatal.

    The first statement is problematic for a different reason, in that it is not falsifiable (since we only have access to our own reality and not counterfactual realities that differ in only the relevant respect). If all other things are not strictly equal, one finds that a causative link is about as easy to nail down as Jell-o. Russia, for example, has a stratospheric murder rate and nearly no guns. Canada, Israel, and Switzerland loves them their guns and have minuscule murder rates. One can weasel out of these problematic data points by insisting on ceteris paribus, but I think a better approach might be to find out why the gun ownership rate does not seem to correlate one way or another with murder rate internationally, even among countries with fairly similar conditions elsewise.

  • C Peterson

    While the reference to a Hitler quote is certainly crazy, I am skeptical it even represents a valid quote. After a short Internet research session, I can’t find any credible evidence that Hitler ever said this. Indeed, it seems a recent invention, and only referenced on ultra-rightwing websites and forums. It doesn’t even have a common form, but exists in a variety of paraphrased versions.

  • Jim Rogers

    What’s wrong with social justice? The other stuff in her list of evils at least have some kind of argument – however weak – on the other side (i.e., people that disagree with me.) But to be against “justice exercised within a society, particularly as it is exercised by and among the various social classes of that society” [Wikipedia], you have to pretty explicitly be a stuck up jerk.

  • Randomfactor

    There IS a novel by that name. About the Christian complicity in the Rwanda massacres, perhaps?

  • Kirby_G

    Any time anyone contends that they are a decent person, and then comes out strongly against “social justice” I write them off in my head. I simply refuse to listen to anything else they have to say.

  • 3lemenope

    I suppose it all depends on what you mean by social justice.

  • chicago dyke

    the sad thing is, this isn’t even racism at work, the lack of quality public education in many places, as Franklin envisioned. black, latin, rural white, poor… all children suffer when public schools “can’t” afford to hire quality teachers, and invest in Common Core style curriculums. and pay politically appointed administrators $700K/yr while taking away the health benefits of teachers working 12hrs/day making $45K/yr.

    quality public education benefits us all. except maybe the 1%, but fuck them. they already give their children the Very Best in education. it’s time the rest of us enjoyed that too.

  • 3lemenope

    Or perhaps think the concept incoherent, overbroad, poorly defined, used as a shibboleth rather than as a policy guide, and so forth. In fact, the complaint I find most often against “social justice” is that it can be invoked for pretty much any pet policy prescription one chooses. It is, in this criticism, a completely empty (and thus infinitely flexible) justification for anything that can’t be supported by more concrete, empirical means.

    I don’t agree, precisely, but the careless way in which the concept is sometimes invoked allows me some sympathy for its detractors.

  • wmdkitty


  • chicago dyke


  • Fractal Heretic

    “Your child or grandchildren won’t be able to escape Common Core materials that are … social justice.”

    Am I reading that right? Is she actually against social justice? Surely no one is stupid enough to think that teaching children to treat each other fairly is indoctrination.

  • 3lemenope

    Quality public education of the 99% benefits the 1% tremendously. You get an education, while they get ready-made literate, numerate populace who are trained to follow directions and line up in an orderly fashion. On the cheap. Highways let you get to a far-flung relative’s house. Highways let their products get to market. The 1% disproportionately benefit from all infrastructure expenditures, don’t let anyone tell you different.

  • chicago dyke

    i hear you, Sir or Madame.

    i’m just saying all our children deserve a good education. the A students can work for the rich, the C students can be MBAs, and everyone can enjoy literature and science, and learn to eschew religion.

  • 3lemenope

    That’s probably not your best plan ever.

  • Mario Strada

    Was that a red asshole on her lapel?

  • Michael W Busch

    I did mean firearm deaths for the third one – my apologies. Re. the second one: the point of that was that there is the political position of “guns are defensive weapons”, which is directly contradicted by the data. Re. the first one: Canada, Israel, and Switzerland all have rates of gun ownership that are far lower than in the US . The statement about higher rates of gun ownership being associated with more homicides is based on differences in rates of gun ownership _within the US_. You are quite correct that the sociology here is messy.

    But once again we see the importance of providing the students with accurate information. That includes explaining the limitations of what is known.

  • 3lemenope

    I’m all for that. I just think it is very important to emphasize to students that whatever they are being presented with about any topic that it is only the tip of an enormous iceberg, any one of which might end up having quite a different shape than one would predict from the visible bit (a shape which is not necessarily obvious even to experts in that same field). More information is usually good, but the trick is to contextualize information, which includes indicating what is missing or confounded by other factors, as well as indicating the framing in which the entire conversation is proceeding. Without both the frame and the context, pretty much any fact is divorced from real usefulness.

  • Friendly_Autist

    Unions, feminism, homosexuality, justice, gun control.

    I don’t want any of that in *my* country!

  • Miss_Beara

    Of course social justice is bad for these people. If there is social justice, that means they have to accept gays, reproductive rights, immigrants, unions and environmental causes. They don’t want to leave their protective bubble of jesus. They are just doing want jesus was about, you know, he hated gays, unions, women and the environment. I am sure that is somewhere in the bible…

  • Baby_Raptor

    I’m willing to lay money this idiot didn’t say a word about “No Child Left Behind.”

  • Jennifer

    Awesome B_K!

  • Matt Eggler

    That image you shared?!? RAINBOWY GAYNESS!!! It IS a plot! I knew it, I knew it, I knew it!

  • DougI

    Dumber than a sack of hammers. She has a bright future in politics.

  • geru

    Yet another “horrible” Conservative scenario. How cool would it be to actually have Barack Obama as a teacher? Imagine if there really were more intelligent and inspiring people like him as teachers, then maybe people like mrs. Zeanah wouldn’t have to spend their nights lying awake worrying about their country turning into a 1994-like dystopia, because of it’s Kenian dictator.

  • Witchgawd

    The South. SMH. She probably prays before she sits on the toilet or does any other menial task. You just know she’s praying for that theocracy to take hold and for all of the evil, educated people and non-Xians in this country to burn in a lake of fire for eternity. I’m done trying to be “nice” when talking about subhumans like her. Fu@# her and the horse she rode in on.

  • The Other Weirdo

    Let’s stick it to The Man™ and ruin their evil plan by producing unable to read or follow directions. That’ll show them, the rich bastards!

  • meekinheritance

    When it started being applied to other people. ;-)

  • mandy

    I work for a children’s library publisher, and it has been part of my job to familiarize myself with the Common Core Standards. I don’t think this woman has even skimmed over them. There are no specific materials defined that must be taught. They just promote reading comprehension through all subjects with a great emphasis on nonfiction and critical thought. But maybe it’s the critical thinking that she is so worried about.

  • Billy Bob

    Where were you when these loons talk about gays? Anything even hinting that gay people exist and aren’t evil is “indoctrination” to these people.

  • Billy Bob

    I’m pretty sure they’d find something or someone to reference. Maybe Stalin or Mao.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “remember the quote by Hitler”

    Considering the context, I can only guess she meant, “Give me the child for his first seven years, and I’ll give you the man,” but that wasn’t Hitler, it is a Jesuit slogan.

  • AxeGrrl


  • Oosik

    I chuckle every time I hear fundamentalists get righteously indignant and claim that the govt. wants to indoctrinate their children. They miss the irony in their indictments. They are truly the last people to cry about this non-existent indoctrination when organized religions, esp. the fundies, are proven to be the true masters of propagandizing and indoctrination.

    “There is no absurdity so palpable but that it may be firmly planted
    in the human head if you only begin to inculcate it before the age of
    five, by constantly repeating it with an air of great solemnity.
    -Arthur Schopenhauer

  • Oosik

    I believe the reason he turned down the offer, and also offers from several prestigious law firms offering more than he is earning today, is that he was, and is, committed to grassroots community organizing and development for the betterment of the communities. Grass roots organizing and producing effective change from the bottom up. That strategy is displayed in his campaign organization. The organization he put in place during his 1st campaign was kept in place during his term. He had a running start on his challengers as a result.

    In fact now that I think about it. I’m thinking that like Carter has focused on Homes for Humanity since leaving office, that Obama will continue to be active in organizing urban, lower income neighborhoods in order that the residents come together to work together to improve their communities. Maybe not full time in the beginning. I think he will be in demand for other endeavors after leaving office. But, he will for sure spend time on his first passion. Grassroots Of, By and For the People.

  • Michael W Busch

    I do not pretend to be able to accurately psychoanalyze the man from a distance. I merely read the U. Chicago Law School’s statement on Obama’s years as a lecturer.

  • Oosik

    “Quality public education of the 99% benefits the 1% tremendously.”

    Yes it did, but no longer does, in the Barons von ALEC’s current agenda. Educated people expect, more like demand, to realize their fair share of the wealth that they produce for the way over paid and bonus ed Executive Sweets [intentional] who know nothing of the industry they are running. They change corporations every few years in order to earn even more and the Boards by into the lie of having to pay more to get the best and brightest in order to remain competitive and/or stay in front of the pack.

    That they need to curtail raises for the wealth producers and reduce their benefits in order to meet shareholder’s expectations and pay those dividends plus pay the Exec. Sweets is just a fact of life for them. They will look you in the eye when utter their specious beckscat .

    No the Barons von ALEC want minimum educations and no critical thinking skills. They want the American Worker – aka Wealth Producers to be singing “St. Peter donchya call me ’cause I can’t go……. I owe my soul to the company store. . “

  • Oosik

    I wasn’t attempting to psychoanalyze Obama. I just stated my opinion based on his history and his years in politics. Deductive reasoning ala Bones and Sherlock style if you will. ;)

  • Mark W.

    At first I was like’ “OMG, what is that? Quick, burn it with fire, send it back to HELL!!!”. I watched her for 10 seconds and realized that she was the keynote speaker at the monthly meeting of the Alabama Tea Party Brain Trust and Makeup Fan Club, and not that evil clown demon from Spawn. After I listened to her for 30 seconds I thought that maybe my first instinct was correct after all.

  • Puzzled

    Gun control.

  • Puzzled

    None of those statements are ‘gun control is good.’ I have no objection to teaching statistics – so long as you also teach students how to understand them and the proper skepticism to show, and emphasize that reasonable people can agree on the facts and disagree on their consequences – there being such things as moral beliefs and the like.

  • Sandy Kokch

    When fascism comes to the United States it will be wrapped in excess body fat and carrying a badly spelled Tea Party placard.

  • Sandy Kokch

    As to the great Orwell, whenever you hear an American chuckle head go on about how he was a “Soshulist commie pinko” feel free to explain that Orwell believed in English “small s” socialism and hated all forms of totalitarian government equally.

    As his MI5 file proved when released, they considered Orwell as great a hater of USSR style Communism as he was a hater of Fascism.

    Orwell’s socialism is best summed up by the Billy Bragg song “Between The Wars”

  • Michael W Busch

    Thanks for clarifying.

    General observation: everyone sensible believes ‘gun control is good’. “Everyone should be able to run around able to kill everyone else at a whim” is obviously absurd. What we can and should talk about is the _degree_ of gun control, and that’s where the data becomes important – because it excludes particular ideas about the degree of gun control as being wrong.

  • Jason Kushner

    Even atheists believe in global warming, the earth has cooled the last 20 years, the earth has gone through heating and cooling cycles since inception.and even if gloBSal warming is real who cares what the earth is like 500 years from now.

  • Bdole

    To be fair, I have a favorite Hitler quote, too. But, I don’t go around with a prozac-smile on my face quoting him in lilting tones.

    And this is all in the name of defending education from Obama while refering to quite possibly the most famous piece of political sci-fi ever written as “1994.” Maybe that was her subtle jab at Obama’s attempt to emphasize more non-fiction? I’m kidding she’s a wack-a-loon.

  • Bdole

    Many fungi can exist just fine without air. You do realize that a colony of very tiny fungal spores can aggregate to assume large-scale even human-size shapes?
    I hope this factoid gives you a better appreciation of their motivations.

  • Matthew Baker

    I did the same thing and found very little useful information. She seems like one of those people who when she is wrong she goes all the way wrong.

  • kaydenpat

    But everything President Obama suggests is communism, Nazism, socialism. Don’t you know?

  • public school teacher

    Who wrote the book, 1994? Or are you referring to George Orwell’s 1984?