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Dr. Deighan's Weekly Article - June 25, 2021

Mostly Educational

Big Hair and Social Engineering in Public Schools

June 25, 2021 by Tom Deighan


The History Channel is my authoritative source for solid, historical facts about UFO’s, Sasquatch, and Chupacabra, and my favorite show is undoubtedly Ancient Aliens. In one episode, the troll-haired guy (Giorgio Tsoukalos) asserts that the only reason people don’t accept that the pyramids were built by E.T. is because we will not teach the truth in school. That certainly settles it for me, but Mr. Tsoukalos is not alone in his opinion. Virtually everyone on the left and right seems to agree that public schools are the root of every problem that plagues America. When everyone agrees with Ancient Aliens about public schools, who can say America is divided?  

If public schools are to blame for all our problems, then according to the same logic, that’s where we can also fix everything. This philosophy has produced wholesale social engineering through schools since their inception. This is not always bad, for schools have been used to help curb smoking, to stop littering, and to even promote healthy exercise. Such good examples of social engineering are always transparent, widely supported, and inarguably in the best interest of kids. (I don’t know anyone promoting smoking, unhealthy kids, or trashy highways.)  But seriously, anti-littering campaigns are not the type of social engineering that irritates parents and educators.

This is not solely a red or blue issue, however. Both parties do it constantly and cooperatively. For example, Common Core State Standards – introduced under Brad Henry and Sandy Garret and implemented by Mary Fallin and Janet Barresi – were adopted with widespread bipartisan support and voted out with equally purple fervor. Legislation is an open process that can be reversed, however, so this is not really the type of social engineering that bothers everyone. It’s the sneaky stuff that bothers us, especially when it infringes on parental rights, limits local control, or erodes relevant curriculum. That’s the type of social engineering I believe has hurt public schools.

Anything that usurps parents’ authority or influence over their own children (parental rights), that circumvents a communities’ local autonomy (local control), or that artificially injects unrelated agendas into an academic area (relevant curriculum) rightfully raises a red flag, but most of all, Americans do not like things that are hidden or secretive (transparency). People see this as a subversive type of social engineering.

Public schools are diverse communities, so parents and educators (and children) understand that everyone will not always agree. They do get along, however, by establishing rules and procedures to ensure that captive and impressionable audiences are not needlessly subject to issues that may be hostile to the parents’ wishes. Student-led clubs or groups can explore such topics, but they must be voluntary, conducted openly, and with parent’s knowledge. Anything a child is forced to attend (as part of compulsory schooling) should be free of attempts to subvert parental rights, local control, relevant curriculum, or transparency.

But of course, people are imperfect and we all have agendas, which is why local control, open meetings, and open records will always be needed. Post-COVID parents seem to have a renewed interest in what their public school is doing, and most educators welcome this. We have needed your help for a long time to help manage the insanity. Social engineering in schools is as old as chalkboards, but thankfully, parents and educators can agree on most issues, tolerating and accepting differences that do arise. Despite what the media portrays, there really is common ground in education, and I believe most parents and educators value the same things.  

As a proud bald man, however, I must confess my own secret agenda, driven by jealousy of the troll-haired guy’s bouffant. I want all public school children to sport the troll hairstyle. They would look so cute lined up with their hair pointing straight up, but alas, I cannot push my pompadour preferences on hapless children. Neither parents nor educators would like that. Nevertheless, I do suggest that Egyptologists start looking for Reese’s Pieces in the pyramids because E.T. never phones home without them. Georgio really may be on to something there.

Tom Deighan

Superintendent

Duncan Public Schools

 

Public educators welcome all . . . serve all . . . love all.