October 15, 2012

HOW PUBLIC SCHOOLS DEFINE “LIBERAL” & “CONSERVATIVE” (I KID YOU NOT):  My middle school-aged daughter was studying for a civics test on the American political system.  Two of her vocabulary words were “liberal” and “conservative.”  Here are the definitions she was supposed to memorize:

“Liberal:  favorable to progress or reform, as in political, social or religious affairs.

“Conservative:  Disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones and limit change.

So let me get this straight:  Liberals are “favorable to progress” while conservatives are “disposed to . . . limit change.”   Ugh.

I had to write my daughter’s teacher a note to politely point out that while these might be decent generic definitions of the words, they are not accurate in the specific context of a civics class or study of the American political system.  In that context, the relevant distinction between liberals and conservatives has nothing to do with being favorable or unfavorable toward “progress” or “change,” but a difference in view about the proper size and scope of governmental power, with liberals believing generally in bigger government, conservatives believing generally in smaller government.

If this is how our children are learning to define “liberals” and “conservatives,” we are in BIG trouble, folks. Anyone with kids out there needs to monitor their child’s civics materials carefully.