Elementary Students Being Indoctrinated in Minnesota’s Top School District

May 2, 2017 by

As I’ve pointed out elsewhere, a large percentage of students in public schools today are being trained to view the world primarily through the lenses of race, class, and gender.

Another good example of this phenomenon came to my attention last week in Intellectual Takeout’s backyard.

Highlands Elementary is a K-5 school in Edina Public Schools district. Edina is one of the wealthiest cities in Minnesota, and its school district is considered by many to be the best in the state. Highlands itself has impressive standardized test results: over 85% of their students are proficient in reading and math.

But in the past year, Highlands’ young students have also been subjected to a barrage of curricular offerings focused on race and social justice.

Some examples:

The Kindergarten class at Highlands has been engaged for weeks on something called the “Melanin project”:

Here is a poem that one of the 1st-graders at Highlands produced:

Apparently the kindergartners are also being taught where to align themselves on some of today’s controversial political issues:

And just recently, it was announced that Highlands was awarded a grant that will allow the 4th and 5th graders to participate in the Stages Theatre Company’s “Perspectives on Peace” (PoP) project. According to Stages’ website, “PoP illuminates current world events and broadens students’ attitudes toward tolerance, respect, understanding, and peace…”

Below is a promotional video for the project (linked to in an email sent to Highlands parents) that, among other things, associates the “Black Lives Matter” movement with “peace”:

PoP is led by Nikki Swoboda, whose directorial credits include: “Virgin Territory,” which “tak[es] a hard look at the ‘ideals’ of virginity and how those are perceived in society”; and “Ball: A Musical Tribute to My Lost Testicle.”

Image result for Kathryn Mahoney principal
It is unclear to me if this unusually large focus on social justice issues is a perennial theme at Highlands Elementary, or if it’s directly the result of the hiring of Kathryn Mahoney as principal last year.

But one thing is clear: Mahoney is certainly a zealot for social justice issues. Almost every post she uploads to the school’s blog, “Wonder,” includes an “Equity Corner,” where she provides recommendations to teachers and parents for their further education. (Note: Mahoney is also prolific on the school’s Facebook page.)

Some of the many recommendations include…

an article from The Root titled “Yes, You Can Measure White Privilege.”

book resources for parents to use to talk with their children about race.

– the student projects on activist groups at the Ashoka Changemaker Summit. (Highlands is listed as one of Ashoka’s “Changemaker Schools,” which share a commitment to helping children “master empathy.”)

Here’s a video from the conference:

– and a slide from a presentation by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, author of Racism without Racists, which encourages the creation of “a large cohort of antiracist whites.”

The picture of the slide above was taken from a recent Technology and Information Services (TIES) conference for Minnesota educators, and offers one more illustration that Highlands’ social justice curriculum is not specific to this school, but is becoming systemic in America’s education system.

The word “indoctrination” is defined as the process of teaching a person or group to accept a set of beliefs uncritically, or of inculcating a very specific ideology. Given this definition, I don’t really know how else one could avoid the conclusion that the young children at Highlands Elementary are being indoctrinated. They are being trained to see the world through the lens of race, to adopt the mantras of certain radical groups, and to become activists. And at their age, these students have neither the knowledge nor the experience to really oppose much of what they’re being taught.

I imagine there are a lot of parents in Edina, and in other school districts across America, who applaud such a social justice curriculum, and want its values instilled in their children. But I’m sure there are also many other parents who simply want their grade-school children to learn the basics, and to learn them well, without the ideology.

Shouldn’t the parents in this latter group have a say?

This post Elementary Students Being Indoctrinated in Minnesota’s Top School District was originally published on Intellectual Takeout by Daniel Lattier.

Source: Elementary Students Being Indoctrinated in Minnesota’s Top School District | Intellectual Takeout

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2 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Paul Coate

    In this article, you cited that the stage director you had a problem with had directed “Ball: A Musical Tribute to My Lost Testicle”. I am guessing you were using the title of that piece to paint the director in some sort of unethical light.

    I saw “Ball: A Musical Tribute to My Lost Testicle” at the Minnesota Fringe Festival last year. “Ball: A Musical Tribute to My Lost Testicle” is an autobiographical solo theatre piece written and performed by a man who survived testicular cancer, and it is a brilliant, uplifting, and heartfelt work. It was sold out every night at the Minnesota Fringe and continues to tour around the region, reaching communities with the universal message of hope in the face of the horrors of cancer.

    So, my question to the author of this article is:

    1) Do you have an issue with stories presented to empower cancer survivors, or
    2) Are you admittedly taking someone’s body of work completely out of context for the purpose of smearing their character?

    In either instance, moral and ethical self-examination is required on the part of the author of this article.

  2. Avatar
    Nikk Swoboda

    Hi I just wanted to reach out since my name is in this. Perspectives on Peace is produced by Stages Theatre Company where I am the Education Director. I would love to respond to a few things in this article respectfully. First of all, you pulled titles of shows that I have directed outside of my capacity at Stages which skews the perspective on me. The shows I have directed at Stages include Fancy Nancy: The Musical, Good Night Moon, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, and I Love you, Stinky Face. That’s much more telling of the work I do these days. You dug into my graduate school work back in 2010 to get those titles that create an image of an edgy artist who shouldn’t be working with children. Next, Perspectives on Peace is a nationally award winning program that cultivates PERSPECTIVE first and foremost. Perspective: the faculty of seeing all the relevant data in meaningful relationships. It’s about how to look at the world through the lens of peace. The video you included is used in a writing exercise for the older kids we serve (this curriculum goes up to grade 9) and again was pulled off the internet without context. It is not a promotional video. We don’t use if for under 6th grade. Finally, “adapting mantras of radical groups” is not within our curriculum. We ask “What Does Peace Mean to You?” That’s it. Lots of times, peace means grandma’s chocolate chip cookies and then we get to make a scene about that. Other times it includes kids asking hard questions that we get to creatively explore. To gain more information with context about the program, please check here: https://www.stagestheatre.org/education/perspectives-on-peace/
    Thank you so much for considering. This project has been the most important thing I have ever been a part of and I would hate for its good name to be tarnished by a lack of context.

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