COMMENTARY

Policy Cross-Purposes

Charles A. Kohlhaas | March 6, 2024
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The president of the National Education Association (NEA), an American teachers’ union and the largest union in the country, is demanding the Biden Administration force Israel to agree to a ceasefire in Gaza. The NEA is also demanding Hamas agree to a ceasefire that Hamas has clearly and repeatedly rejected. A one-way ceasefire is a surrender. Israel cannot agree to that. 

The NEA previously endorsed Biden’s support of Israel, but with this switch it joins numerous other teachers’ organizations, labor unions, and street mobs here and in Europe with an unrealistic demand for a ceasefire.

Teachers and students marched in a massive protest in New York City in early November in support of Hamas. In general, they designate the Israelis as “occupiers” and call for the end of Israeli “colonization” of Gaza particularly and Palestine generally. Accusing Jews of colonizing Palestine seems odd. Jews have been there since they marched out of Egypt around 4,000 years ago – long before Mohamad showed up and founded Islam. They ended their occupation of Gaza in 2005.

For nearly two centuries after the founding of our country, public school education was established and administered by local school boards. State school boards established standards in some states. The education ideas of German Marxists spread to the U.S. in the late 19th century and influenced education in some states as Progressive education championed by John Dewey and others. 

Progressive education achieved destructive national dominance with three changes in the 1960s:

  • President Kennedy issued Executive Order 10988, which opened the door for unionization of public and government employees leading to national expansion of teachers’ unions.
  • During Lyndon Johnson’s disastrous administration, the Federal Government stepped into public education with the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965. 
  • Various government and court decisions led to racial integration of schools. Organizations such as the Weather Underground, Black Liberation Army, Black Panthers, and the Symbionese Liberation Army advocated violent revolutionary changes of society. 

 

The education system was homogenized nationally and gradually converted to a means of indoctrination and political manipulation in accordance with Marxist, German, and Socialist philosophies culminating with the Common Core legislation of the Obama Administration in 2010. Common Core was adopted by 41 states.

The stated objective of Federal education legislation is to provide a national standard for a high level of education to prepare citizens for successful lives.  It obviously has had the opposite result. Standard test scores show a gradual deterioration of performance of public-school students and graduates. A recent report showed that 75% of Chicago high school graduates cannot pass tests in reading and mathematics and not one graduate of their Math and Science academy can pass tests in either math or science. These results are not atypical.

The leadership of teachers’ unions, not satisfied with their destruction of the American education system, now wants to advise the Administration on foreign policy. Of course, Dr. Jill is a member. As is typical with many politically-active organizations, the leadership takes strong political stands and has influence based on the size of its membership. The attitude of the membership is not known, however. Controversial political positions are not submitted to a membership vote. 

The Biden Administration is, thus, caught trying to maintain support of Israel (and Ukraine) with strong pressure from its constituency demanding the U.S. force an end to the hostilities. As noted above, these demands are supposedly based on misconceptions about Israeli status in the area compounded by aversion to the high number of Gazan civilian casualties and sympathy for Gazan women and children. One must wonder whether these demands are based on concerns about the Gazans or using it as an excuse to further undermine U.S. social cohesion and political effectiveness. 

The Gazans hardly seem worthy of such concern, however. After the Israelis ended their occupation in 2005, the Gazans did not spend their time developing a prosperous civilian economy. They voted Hamas into power and spent their time manufacturing and acquiring missiles, which they periodically fired at civilian targets in Israel. According to various polls, they support Hamas and its fiendish attack on Israel on 10/7 by 80% to 90%. Their leadership bragged their greatest weapon is “our women’s bellies,” which provide a continuing supply of new fighters. Women and children saved today are terrorists tomorrow. Even the other Arabs don’t want them. They now reap the whirlwind. Sympathy for Gazans is rare. Egypt borders Gaza, but will not let them in. Nor will any other Arab country take them as refugees. The Saudis are conspicuously quiet, waiting for an end to the war so they can continue to normalize ties with Israel. The Emirates, Kuwait, and other Sunni countries follow the Saudi lead. 

Reports that Iran recently instructed Hezbollah to increase their attacks on Israel from the north indicate Israel will soon need a lot more ordnance. The Biden Administration is, thus, caught in a bind. A loud part of its domestic constituency is pressuring it to force an Israeli surrender. U.S. foreign policy from both parties supported Israel ever since Harry Truman recognized Israel’s existence and polls show a strong majority of the US population still favors Israel over Hamas.  Iran is the major threat in the area and is close to having a nuclear bomb. Although many are terrified of that, only two parties can prevent it. The Biden Administration seems to follow Obama’s policies, however. It is only lukewarm about supporting Israel and appeases and supports Iran. Iran uses Hamas and Hezbollah to deflect Israel.

The world seems to be lurching toward catastrophe. This is a time when strong U.S. leadership is needed. Alas, that is a feature notably absent from the Biden Administration.

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