NEA Blames America for 9/11; Critics Say National Education Association Lesson Plans on Sept. 11 Are Anti-American and Anti-Western Civilization. (Education)

By Sorokin, Ellen | Insight on the News, September 23, 2002 | Go to article overview

NEA Blames America for 9/11; Critics Say National Education Association Lesson Plans on Sept. 11 Are Anti-American and Anti-Western Civilization. (Education)


Sorokin, Ellen, Insight on the News


Although the National Education Association (NEA), the largest national teachers union, has suggested to teachers that they be careful on the first anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks not to "suggest any group is responsible" for the terrorist hijackings that killed more than 3,000 people, others--including the American Federation of Teachers (AFT)--have taken the union to task.

Suggested lesson plans compiled by the NEA recommend that teachers address the issue of blame factually, noting: "Blaming is especially difficult in terrorist situations because someone is at fault. In this country, we still believe that all people are innocent until solid, reliable evidence from our legal authorities proves otherwise."

But another of the suggested NEA lesson plans--compiled together under the title "Remember September 11" and appearing on NEA's Health Information Network Website (www.neahin.org)--takes a decidedly blame-America approach, urging educators to "discuss historical instances of American intolerance" so that the American public avoids "repeating terrible mistakes." "Internment of Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor and the backlash against Arab-Americans during the [Persian] Gulf War are obvious examples," the plan says. "Teachers can do lessons in class, but parents can also discuss the consequences of these events and encourage their children to suggest better choices that Americans can make this time."

The NEA Website list includes more than 100 lesson plans teachers will be able to use to help elementary-, middle-and high-school students integrate how they might remember the day's events through subjects such as art, drama and math.

"America is very much together in terms of remembering Sept. 11," says Jerald Newberry, executive director of NEA's Health Information Network. "Americans see their schools as the place that will help their children make sense of these horrific events and move forward as better people."

However, critics say some of the suggestions included in the lesson plans aimed at junior and senior high-school students can be seen as an affront to Western civilization. The suggestions and lesson plans were developed by Brian Lippincott, program director for the Graduate School of Professional Psychology at the John F. Kennedy University in California.

Critics argue the proposed lesson plans are a form of "cultural Marxism" in that the lessons defend all other cultures except Western civilization. "A lot of what's stated in these lesson plans are lies," says William S. Lind, director of the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation, a conservative policy think tank. "None of what is mentioned in these plans are facts. It's an ultimate sin now to defend Western culture. It does not matter today whether a student learns any facts or any skills. What matters now is the attitude they come away with when they graduate."

The critics also have trouble with schools teaching about Islam--specifically when teachers describe it as a "peaceful religion." Instead, they say, schools should warn children that the root of the problem lies in Islamic teaching. "There is no such thing as peaceful Islam," Lind says. "It says that followers should make war on those who believe that Christ is the Messiah."

Phyllis Schlafly, president of the conservative Eagle Forum, says schools should stick to teaching more important subjects such as math, English and science. "There is nothing that schools can add to what happened on Sept. 11 that the children haven't already seen in the media," she says. "They should stay off of it and teach what's true. They should leave it alone."

According to Newberry, the suggested list was compiled by about 200 teachers from across the country after the NEA received hundreds of calls from parents shortly after Sept. 11 asking the schools to help their children understand what happened. …

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