by Hunter Tower
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Education, 37.3 percent of students in grades 3 through 11 met the grade-level “proficient” standard for mathematics in statewide testing for the 2022 school year. Only 55 percent measured up in literature/language arts and 63.7 in science.
To put these results in perspective, just two years earlier, 45.4 percent performed at grade level in math, while 62.4 met the standard in literature and 66.4 did so in science.
Apparently pleased with this abysmal showing, however, the education department turned its attention this summer to rethinking gender pronouns.
The Pennsylvania DOE’s webpage explains: “In addition to the traditional pronouns (he/him, she/her, they), some people prefer to use gender-neutral pronouns, such as ne, ve, ze/zie and xe. If you don’t know a student’s preferred personal pronoun, it’s always best to ask.”
The webpage defines “binary gender” as the “faulty concept that there are only two genders: male and female.”
Intended as a resource guide for educators, the webpage includes a lesson plan urging teachers to host a “gender-neutral day” for students as young as the third grade.
These instructions clearly encourage educators to replace the facts of biology with radical social constructions about gender fluidity.
The Department of Education knowingly demands this message be disseminated to students who lack the capacity to digest abstract concepts like sexual identity, with the obvious intention of indoctrinating them.
The state’s bleak test-score data provide incontrovertible proof that the education establishment – under the control of teachers’ unions – has dropped all pretense of educating students in core subjects like reading, writing, science, and arithmetic. What the educators are interested in is advancing a political agenda.
Since biology and DNA are incompatible with leftist gender ideology, these inconvenient truths must be suppressed. Such conflicts between facts and dogma eliminate the line between educational and indoctrination. And schools are now forced to make choices between them.
Will they help students master multiplication tables, or is math racist? Will they provide students with libraries that open them to great literature, or use school libraries as social justice tools? Will they help students understand the U.S. Constitution, or dismiss that document entirely because it represents an obstacle to their radical political goals?
Pennsylvania’s schools are in crisis because generations of teachers and administrators have had to toe the line and financially support labor unions and the political goals of their unions’ allies. Using billions of dollars in union dues, groups like the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers are among the largest and most influential donors to political candidates and causes – almost exclusively on the far left of the spectrum.
Happily, the Supreme Court in 2018 issued a ruling banning mandatory union membership and dues in the public sector. Since then, the NEA and AFT have seen tens of thousands of disgruntled teachers opt out. As these defections accelerate, unions should become more accountable – or face a future in which they are expeditiously disregarded.
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Hunter Tower is the Pennsylvania state director for the Freedom Foundation.