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The Exploitation of Young Minds

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Bonnie Snyder | 9.21.2021 8:01 AM

At the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), our longstanding concerns about the deteriorating free speech culture in higher education led to the suspicion that many of these pernicious problems originate before students ever set foot on campus. This spurred us to expand our organizational aims to include high school outreach, in order to teach younger students the value and importance of their — and their peers' — precious First Amendment rights.

From coast to coast, we're seeing documented cases of heavy-handed thought reform efforts in K-12 education that substantiate our long held concerns. A situation that has been festering for decades at a level of low-grade chronicity reached acute levels this past school year, as demonstrated by levels of school board engagement and vituperation that we haven't seen before in our lifetimes.

Paying attention to the K-12 landscape uncovers problematic patterns ranging from activist educators rebelling against traditional ethical restraints to a willingness to denigrate anyone — including children — who dares to verbalize doubt, disagreement, or even lack of sufficiently enthusiastic proactive agreement. Some assertive teachers are hanging uncomfortably presumptive "We Believe" posters in their classrooms while some schools — mainly private — have adopted highly prescriptive collective belief statements or commitments with insufficient discussion or buy-in from the school community.

It certainly doesn't help that the training new teachers receive is so precipitously one-sided, as we discussed in a recent podcast episode with English professor........

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