Article published in The Manchester (NH) Union-Leader
“CELEBRATE DIVERSITY” is the mantra of multicultural educators. That call resounds louder than usual on April’s Earth Day, when activists fashion multiculturalism and environmentalism into twin blossoms.
In truth, there is nothing diverse about immigrants being encouraged to cling to their own language, culture, customs and history to the exclusion of learning the heritage and language of their adopted land.
Unfortunately, that is too often the brand of multicultural education being pushed in tandem with so-called bilingual education in America’s public schools. The byproduct is cultural separatism – more monocultural than multicultural – as opposed to a common base of shared knowledge.
A century ago, public education served the vital purpose of assimilating waves of immigrant children into a united nation, but today it is perilously close to forfeiting that historic mission.
The leading organization of multicultural educators from the kindergarten through graduate school levels is the National Association for Multicultural Education (NAME). At annual conventions held since 1990, NAME speakers have consistently praised minority or Third World cultures while asserting that the very idea of an inclusive American common culture rooted in Western values perpetuates a legacy of European oppression and exploitation of supposedly purer cultures.
The horrendous September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on America brought into focus the extent of multiculturalist influence on K-12 education. Without condemning the terrorists who murdered almost 3,000 people at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, NAME members rededicated themselves “to restructuring education to reflect the authentic histories, cultures, and conditions of the global community.”
Posted currently on NAME’s Website, the resolution urges “critical analysis of the underlying causes of terrorist actions and the reasons for anti-U.S. hostility in some parts of the world.” The multiculturalists lay not a hint of blame on radical Islam while implying the U.S. had it coming.
NAME workshops frequently classify students as members of “oppressor” or “oppressed” groups according to their race and sex. At the 2002 NAME convention in Arlington, Virginia, and again at the 2003 session in Seattle, the multicultural advocates devoted a full day to the topic: “The Unbearable Whiteness of Being: Dismantling White Privilege and Unconscious Racism in Our Classrooms and Schools.”
During a discussion of ways to deconstruct whiteness, NAME educators cast blanket blame on whites for “psychological violence” that instills in children of color a desire to attain the norms of the “dominant white culture.”
The accent on cultural separatism is evident in multicultural approaches to teaching that are encouraged to one degree or another in all 50 states. Consider, as a prime example, a curriculum prepared exclusively for Mexican-American children placed in bilingual education in the Chicago Public Schools. The CPS’ Office of Language and Cultural Education gives teachers a 163-page “Mexican Heritage Guide” to teach these children Mexican history sequentially “so that the lessons will not be taught in isolation.”
Meanwhile, that is exactly how U.S. history is taught in Chicago and throughout Illinois – facts in isolation – according to an expert analysis. In grading the history standards of 48 states for the Fordham Foundation, Sheldon Stern, the historian at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston, found Illinois’ to be “an incoherent mishmash,” lacking any chronological guidance or perspective.
By contrast, the Mexican Heritage Guide offers not only timelines and extensive discussion of the waves of civilization throughout Mexican history (such as the Ilmec, Teotihuacan, Zapotec, Mixtec, and especially the Mayan and Aztec) but numerous classroom activities to underscore the history lessons. The multiculturalists want much time invested in this project learning – i.e., 30 minutes to make an Aztec headdress, two 50-minute periods to make pottery in the style of ancient Mexico, and almost a full week to put on a play on pagan legends regarding the origin of the sun and the moon.
Consider: Consumption of these large blocks of precious learning time occurs in classes where children supposedly are learning English promptly so they can succeed in their studies. Instead, they often are taught entirely in Spanish, with lessons that ensure they will know far more about Miguel Hidalgo than Thomas Jefferson.
Despite Earth Day pieties, multiculturalism divides people far more than it unites them.
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