Curriculum wars have gripped the education industry and the popular psyche in America for decades. The battles over sex education. Evolution versus creationism. Progressive educators with their revisionist history lessons versus the traditionalists pushing civic virtues and founding principles. And the list goes on.
But what happens when curriculum doesn’t matter. What happens when the school boards are out of session, the parents are at work, and it’s just the students and teachers? What happens when teachers teach whatever they want, the curriculum standards be damned?
This is the state of education in America. Teachers are adopting social justice lesson plans even when doing so violates curriculum standards, the desires of parents, and – most importantly – the best interests of students.
Teachers learn to do this long before they ever see their first classroom, when they are still “pre-service,” education industry speak for stilling being in college.
Activist professors begin pushing education students to deviate from the curriculum in support of the social justice agenda.
Consider the words of leftist historian and social justice educator Howard Zinn.
“The first thing teachers have to do,” Zinn declares, “is make a decision for themselves that they will not be obedient in staying within the boundaries that are usually set by the principals, school administrators, and parent-teacher associations. The teacher has to make a decision right from the start.”
That’s from a 2006 book about teaching the Iraq War to high school and college students. The book features a blurb on the back cover from 1960s terrorist Bill Ayers. Zinn’s chapter is aptly titled A Pedagogy of Resistance.
In another instructional book for social studies teachers, Zinn essentially tries to guilt teachers into undermining curriculum standards.
“I’ve always believed that the main problem with college and university teachers has been self-censorship. I suspect that the same is true in the high schools, although you have to be more sympathetic with high school teachers because they operate in a much more repressive atmosphere.”
Repressive?! Expecting teachers to do their jobs as the parents and the schoolboards intended is apparently now called repression.
“High school teachers always have a problem. They have to worry about parents complaining, about what the head of the department or the principal or the school superintendent will say.”
It’s an Orwellian notion, that parents don’t have a say over their children’s education.
Zinn’s solution, “Teachers need to take risks.” In other words, violate the curriculum and lie about it if you have to.
Some anecdotes about social justice teachers violating curriculum standards
So, how widespread is this practice of teachers deceptively undermining curriculum standards to push their leftist agenda? We have some clues. Every once in a while, a teacher jumps the shark and unapproved lesson plans make national headlines.
Among the favored topics for social justice educators is slavery in antebellum America.
In 2012, a Georgia elementary school made headlines when third graders were sent home with a math assignment asking students to compute the number of beatings a slave received per week.
One math problem read, “If Frederick got two beatings per day, how many beatings did he get in one week?” Another asked how many baskets of cotton Frederick picked.
A school spokesperson told ABC News at the time, “This was an isolated case involving these teachers at this school and at this grade level.”
This is the story parents are most often fed, that “It was an isolated event, an aberration. The lesson was not part of the approved curriculum.”
The reality is that the aberration was not the presence of the social justice curriculum in the school, but rather that parents were allowed to take notice of that fact.
Consider that just a of couple months earlier another elementary school in the same district made the news after students “were required to read a letter in which a Saudi Arabian woman wrote approvingly of wearing the Islamic veil, her fiancé’s multiple wives, and Sharia law.”
Another Georgia school district made headlines in mid-2016 when parents found out a teacher had students shoot dice and pretend to be slaves as part of a social justice lesson plan on the Underground Railroad. The teacher had the only African-American girl in the class sent back to the plantation six times, with the teacher telling her she would be beaten because the slave masters didn’t like her work.
According to the school district, the lesson plan was not part of the approved curriculum.
This social justice silliness is not unique to Georgia, consider this Maryland high school, where in late 2016 a teacher faced a four day suspension after parents caught wind of an assignment he gave out telling students to write “fun” songs about slavery as part of a social justice lesson plan about Frederick Douglas.
The county superintendent told reporters the lesson plan was not part of the approved curriculum.
Earlier this year a Virginia middle school made headlines when parents found out a teacher told the African-American students to pretend to be slaves during a history lesson while white students acted as noblemen.
And you guessed it, the school district says the activity as not part of the approved curriculum.
Social justice lesson plans waste students time
Aside from the divisive, anti-American bent of social justice education, the lesson plans also simply waste students’ time.
And the effects of this time wasting are starting to bear out in the population. For more than a decade, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh professor Duke Pesta gave his incoming freshmen what he calls cultural literacy markers, short quizzes on basic questions about American history, economics, and Western culture.
In 2016, Pesta shared 11 years of test results with The College Fix. Pesta’s findings? “[Students] cannot tell you many historical facts or relate anything meaningful about historical biographies, but they are, however, stridently vocal about the corrupt nature of the Republic, about the wickedness of the founding fathers, and about the evils of free markets.”
What does Pesta say is the most surprising result from his 11-year experiment?
“Students’ overwhelming belief that slavery began in the United States and was almost exclusively an American phenomenon.”
These findings are considerably less surprising once you know about the massive effort underway to push social justice education on America’s youth. And radical leftist educators seem to have found a way to press their agenda even where they have lost the formal battles in the curriculum wars.
In college classrooms, and in books and interviews, and at conferences, social justice educators like Howard Zinn and organizations like push for silent subversion of approved curriculum. They just think – and justifiably so – that the country isn’t paying attention.
 Robert Holland and Don Soifer. Multiculturalism and “Social Justice” in American Public Education. Lexington Institute, November 2008, 11. http://www.lexingtoninstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/multiculturalism-and-social-justice.pdf
 Bill Bigelow, A People’s History for the Classroom. Rethinking Schools Ltd.; First Edition edition (May 1, 2008), 14. https://www.amazon.com/Peoples-History-Classroom-Bill-Bigelow/dp/0942961390
Full PDF Version https://people.ucsc.edu/~ktellez/peoples-history.pdf
 Lauren Effron, Georgia School Investigates ‘Slave’ Math Problems. ABC News, January 10, 2012. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2012/01/georgia-school-investigates-slave-math-problems/
 Effron. ABC News.
 Parents say school slavery game is demeaning. WSB-TV, August 27, 2016. http://www.wsbtv.com/news/local/cobb-county/parents-say-school-slavery-game-is-demeaning/430369374
 Parents say. WSB-TV.
 Charles Pulliam-Moore. A Maryland high school is under fire for an assignment about slavery gone wrong. Splinter News, December 15, 2016. http://splinternews.com/a-maryland-high-school-is-under-fire-for-an-assignment-1793864270
 Erica L. Green. Howard County teacher placed on administrative leave for telling students to write ‘fun’ slave song. Baltimore Sun, December 14, 2016. http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/education/bs-md-ho-foose-race-issues-20161213-story.html
 Abigail Abrams. Virginia School District Investigating After Black Students Allegedly Made to Act as Slaves. Time, January 26, 2017. http://time.com/4650461/virginia-black-students-slaves-history-lesson/