Just How Indoctrinated Are Young Adults?

Just How Indoctrinated Are Young Adults? June 29, 2023

When parents object to “woke schools” teaching “critical race theory,” the standard answer from the educational establishment and progressive politicians is disingenuous, to say the least.  “No one can define what ‘woke’ even means,” they say.  And “critical race theory is an academic model studied in law schools, not primary or secondary schools.”

So political scientists Eric Kaufmann and Zach Goldberg conducted research for the Manhattan Research to determine if and to what extent school children have been indoctrinated into progressive identity politics.  They surveyed 1,500 young adults, aged 18-20, recent products of American schools, and found that virtually all of them have been exposed to these concepts and have been affected by them.

Now I blogged about this study before–see my post The Majority of Students Are Learning Critical Race and Gender Theory–but that was based on a preliminary report.  Kaufmann and Goldberg have fleshed out their findings in their final report, entitled School Choice Is Not Enough: The Impact of Critical Social Justice Ideology in American Education.

They found that 93% of the 18-20 year-olds had heard from an adult at school about at least one of eight  “Critical Social Justice” (CSJ) concept such as “white privilege,” “systemic racism,” “patriarchy,” or the notion that “gender is a choice unrelated to biological sex.”  In addition, 90% had heard about at least one Critical Race Theory (CRT) concept, and 74% had heard about at least one radical gender teaching.

The report reached four conclusions:

“CSJ appears to have a significant impact in shifting children to the political left.”  Among students not exposed to these concepts, 27% said that they were Republicans and 20% Democrats.  But among those exposed to all eight of the concepts, 53% said that they were Democrats and only 7% Republican.

“CSJ is not being taught as one theory among others but rather, in 7 out of 10 cases, as ‘truth.’”  On the whole, students were not taught that there were any counter-arguments to these claims; rather, these tenets were taught as facts.

CSJ increases fear among students.  Among those who were not exposed to CSJ concepts, 38% said “they were afraid of being punished, shamed, or expelled for voicing opinions on controversial subjects.”  Among those who had been exposed to at least two CSJ concepts, as many as 68% were afraid of voicing their opinions.

CSJ is taught in all types of school.  This is not just an issue in public schools.  The study found that 82% of students from non-religious private schools, 73% of students from parochial schools, and 83% of students from homeschools (!) had been exposed to at least one of these concepts.

Kaufmann has written about the consequences of this indoctrination, drawing on both his research and that of others in an article for The Free Press entitled The Indoctrination of the American Mind.  Here are some highlights:

Increasingly, evidence is pouring in that young people are intolerant of opposing views.

For instance, nearly 70 percent of undergraduates polled in a 2021 study said that if “a professor says something students find offensive,” they should be reported to the university. The massive Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) surveys of 20202022 find that 65 to 85 percent of American undergraduates believe universities should not permit speakers on campus who argue that some transgender people have a mental disorder, BLM is a hate group, or abortion should be illegal. . . .

Not only are educated young people intolerant of opposing ideas, they are increasingly unwilling to date or befriend Republicans. According to original data that I analyzed from FIRE’s 2020 survey, just 7 percent of female and 19 percent of male college students who are not Republican would feel comfortable dating a Trump supporter. . . .

Young people who are uncomfortable dating a Trump supporter are much more likely to discriminate against them in hiring. Just 31 percent of young Democrats who say they would be uncomfortable dating a Trump supporter would hire a “known Republican” for a job.

Why are they so intolerant and absolutist?  Kaufmann says that “An acute sensitivity to emotionally ‘harming’ historically marginalized race, gender, and sexual identity groups is what drives cancel culture.”  His research has found that a majority of those who fear losing their job or reputation for something they have said believe that this is “a justified price to pay to protect historically disadvantaged groups.”

And yet that students are afraid of being punished for what they say does real harm, Kaufmann says, creating inhibitions that undermine a free society.  He observes, “Striking fear into pupils results in less expressive freedom.”


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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