by Chelsea Rudman/Media Matters
Regular viewers of Fox News know that Fox is no fan of public education, which they often claim is "indoctrinating" children to liberal viewpoints. Fox & Friends, in fact, regularly runs segments about education alongside a graphic reading, "The Trouble With Schools."
Today, Fox & Friends began their show by hosting a conservative author to claim public schools "subvert American exceptionalism" and promote liberal "propaganda," then ended the show by gleefully hosting a college professor who teaches his students how the government "plunder[s] people." In other words, Fox is saying that "liberal" viewpoints being taught in the classroom is "propaganda" ... but conservative viewpoints in the classroom are important.
In the first half of the show, co-host Gretchen Carlson interviewed Kyle Olson, author of a book calledIndoctrination: How "Useful Idiots" Are Using Our Schools to Subvert American Exceptionalism. Olson is also a regular contributor to Andrew Breitbart's Big Government blog and the conservative Townhall.com, although Carlson didn't mention that. Olson claimed to have found a "real agenda" to get "teachers' personal philosophy into the classroom." He and Carlson found it sinister that students would be learning about the words "strike" and "collective bargaining" in class (emphasis added):
CARLSON: Preschool teachers using words like "strike" and "collective bargaining" in vocabulary lessons? Our next guest says this is just the tip of the iceberg. He studied dozens of lessons plans [sic], and he found thousands of examples of teachers using the curriculum to promote their own liberal political agenda.[...]OLSON: I'm the father of a kindergartener, and so this -- looking at what was going on in schools is very important to me. And so I started looking at the curriculum, lesson plans, textbooks, videos that are being pushed in public schools, and what I found is a real agenda to get the teachers' personal philosophy into the classroom.
CARLSON: So one of the things you found was union language to preschoolers, the talk of strike and collective bargaining?OLSON: That's right.CARLSON: I mean, even most seniors wouldn't understand what that is.
OLSON: That's it. That's the perfect example. What happened in the city of Chicago was, there's a preschool teacher, preschooler. Again, I'm the father of a kindergartener, so I'm thinking, "Preschooler, you know, how could a preschooler relate to this?" But there's a teacher in the city of Chicago, she went up to Madison, Wisconsin to protest against Scott Walker and collective bargaining reform and everything. She took pictures there. She took them back to her classroom. She read her students a book called Click Clack Moo: Cows That Type and then she taught them the vocabulary lesson that you mentioned, "strike," "collective bargaining," and "negotiate." And you just think, you know, these are examples that high schoolers should be learning about, if at all, but yet, they're being pushed at very early ages.
What's most troubling is that both Carlson and Olson seem to suggest unions and collective bargaining, integral parts of American labor history, shouldn't be taught in classrooms at all, even in high school. The pair went on to be equally appalled by the notion that other students learn about environmental protection, incarcerations rates, and the existence of AIDS, all of which Olson views as evidence of a subversive "agenda." They were particularly troubled by the fact that Maryland high school students are required to be "environmentally literate" in order to graduate, which Fox has freaked out about before.
The following text aired during the segment, alongside the trademark "The Trouble With Schools" logo:
And this text aired later:
Fox's stance on education here is clear: "propaganda in the schools" is bad.
Yet a few hours later, co-host Steve Doocy cheerfully hosted economics professor Jack Chambless of Valencia College, leading off the interview by saying, "It's a lesson about the American Dream, and all you parents and kids out there cannot afford to miss this segment."
During the interview, Doocy asked Chambliss about a writing assignment he gives his students on the American Dream. Both Chambless and Doocy were viscerally appalled that in their responses, "over 80 percent" of Chambless's students said the government should pay for "health care" and "tuition."
Doocy asked Chambless where he thinks his students' "sense of entitlement" comes from, and Chambliss, seemingly unaware of the irony, said that "public schools are part of it." Then Doocy asked about an "experiment" Chambless conducts in his classes, in which he pretends to be a "pickpocket" to show students it's "wrong" for "the government to plunder people":
DOOCY: Before you go, you got to tell me about the experiment you do in your class where you have -- you're essentially a pickpocket.
CHAMBLESS: Well, yes. When I went back to class the next time to meet with them, I told them I read over their essays and I read some of the comments they had made. And then I sat them on a table, and I asked everybody to pull out their wallets and their purses. And I picked one student in each class, and when their wallet was in their hand, I grabbed their wallet out forcefully, and in one case, I grabbed a girl's purse, and I rifled through her purse, pulled out her wallet, pulled out all of her cash. And I said that part of my American Dream was to have a cabin in northern Minnesota someday so I could have a nice retirement, and that this money was now going to help fund that American Dream. And of course, that set in motion explanation [sic] on why using the government to plunder people to support our American Dream is fundamentally, morally wrong, constitutionally wrong, and leads to a lot of economic -- economically bad events if we let that idea gain ground.
Unlike a simple discussion of unions and collective bargaining, this is a pretty clear example of a teacher pushing his "own politics."
Yet Doocy laughed throughout his interview with Chambliss and concluded, "Jack, you better go back to class, because you've got lots of heads to fill."