Culture

Reading, Writing and Redistribution

Cover of Andrew Puzder's new book The Capitalist Comeback, from Center Street Press.

It’s no secret that today’s college campuses are hotbeds of radicalism. Polls confirm that millennials approve of socialism, and viral videos documenting the outrage spilling out of these “safe spaces” regularly make the news. But the indoctrination of American youth begins, in many cases, well before they ever set foot on a college campus.

Today, subtle and not-so-subtle attacks on capitalism, profit, and economic success occur at all levels of education. Even our youngest students get a daily dosage of anti-capitalist/pro-socialist thought in the classroom. It shouldn’t come as a surprise considering who’s doing the teaching. American teachers are in effect a left-wing interest group and make up a significant part of the Democratic voter coalition.

The nation’s largest teacher’s union, the National Education Association (NEA), made more than $20 million in political contributions in 2015 and 2016, with 90 percent of that amount going to Democrats or left-wing causes. The union believes universal health-care coverage is a “moral imperative” and that “education advocacy and social justice advocacy go hand in hand.”

The second-largest teacher’s union, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), donated $12.4 million during the 2015 to 2016 political cycle, with 99.6 percent going to Democrats or liberal causes, and passed a resolution to “take on Wall Street” and “too-big-to-fail banks.”

These days an entire infrastructure exists for left-wing teachers to indoctrinate students in their delusions. More than a dozen national or regional organizations exist to provide guidance and lesson plans to high-school and middle-school teachers interested in teaching students about social justice.

There’s the Boston Teacher Activist Group and the national Education for Liberation Network, which helps teach people about the “injustices” their communities face. There are so many groups that they have trouble coming up with new names, leading to the coexistence of the San Francisco–based Teachers 4 Social Justice and the Chicago-based Teachers for Social Justice.

Even well-intentioned public-school teachers can have little choice but to teach anti-capitalist viewpoints. A prominent high school textbook for Advanced Placement Economics—used to teach the best of the best American students—was written by Progressive advocate Paul Krugman.

This work makes the patently absurd claim that Reagan-era supply-side economics is “generally dismissed by economic researchers” due to “lack of evidence.” Apparently, the declines in inflation and unemployment accompanied by increases in gross domestic product and family income during the Reagan years are insufficient evidence.

One common high school history textbook is A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn, an anti-American Marxist. The book is a 729-page anti-American screed that treats American government and capitalism as evil oppressors of various marginalized groups. Zinn calls for “radical change” that would take the “levers of power” away from “the giant corporations, the military, and their politician collaborators.” He says America needs “to reconstruct the economy for both efficiency and justice,” which should lead to “an equal and ample distribution of goods.”

Eventually, he gets to his real point, saying that “certain basic things would be abundant enough to be taken out of the money system and be available—free—to everyone: food, housing, health care, education, transportation.” From each according to his ability, to each according to his need, as the old communist slogan goes.

A People’s History is not some fringe book that nobody’s reading. Since it was published in 1980, the book has sold more than two million copies and, nearly three decades later, remains in the Top 100 best-selling history books on Amazon.

The Zinn Education Project, formed in 2008 to help teachers develop lessons informed by Zinn’s Far Left ideology, has wide-reaching influence and includes teaching materials like “Rethinking Mathematics: Teaching Social Justice by the Numbers.”

In short, Zinn’s malarkey gets passed off to millions of kids as history.

I have a suggestion to offer state legislators around the country, something that would genuinely help fewer students feel “alienated” from our unique American system. They should learn what it can do for them. States should require students to take, and pass, a seminar on capitalism as a condition of graduating from high school. The lies of socialism have been debunked by both scholarship and experience; it’s time for our representatives to insist that young people have real exposure to the truth about capitalism and basic economics.

Under the Trump administration, the socialist orthodoxy on campuses and in classrooms is finally under siege from market-oriented educational reformers like Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

I believe that sooner or later they will succeed, and when they do, a new generation of American students will have the opportunity to learn about the great system they have inherited, the opportunities it gave to people like me, and the future it offers to all who believe in themselves and their country.

Adapted from the book THE CAPITALIST COMEBACK: The Trump Boom and the Left’s Plot to Stop It by Andrew F. Puzder. Copyright (c) Andrew F. Puzder by Center Street.  Reprinted with permission of Hachette Book Group, New York, NY.  All rights reserved.