The Arizona Republican Party’s nominee for governor, Kari Lake, is telling supporters there’s no reason for schools to spend so much time teaching science, math, and history. If elected she would recreate public schools into buildings producing young adults who can immediately enter the workforce without the benefit of understanding basic information necessary in a democratic society. In North Carolina, the dominionist Lt. Governor wants to ban the teaching of science and history in elementary schools. And a Fox News host this week claimed that social studies – classes that teach history, culture, geography, political science, philosophy, and psychology – is a fake subject, “made up by progressives.”
That Fox News host is Pete Hegseth, who Donald Trump, when he was president, wanted to nominate to head the Veterans Administration. Hegseth may be best-known, however, for once bragging on Fox News that he hadn’t washed his hands in over a decade.
“Germs are not a real thing,” Hegseth said. “I can’t see them, therefore they’re not real.”
“Everything about the confines of my classroom was created by progressives 100 years ago,” Hegseth told a live audience this week. “You mentioned the rows. You mentioned that approach – the bell ringing. God being removed of course, lunch breaks, lunch breaks, different subjects, Social Studies.”
That’s when Hegseth got agitated.
“The idea we’re not going to study civics, history, philosophy, theology, we’re going to create psychology and social studies and split it all up as if we can dissect human nature and through a scientific method which they’ve invented.”.
“That’s right, create more perfectible human beings by controlling how they think and what they think, all created by progressives.”
Hegseth thinks taxpayer-funded public schools should teach everything through the “lens” of God, or, more specifically, his God
“Did you take social studies? I took social studies. The progressives made it up it – it’s, it’s a made-up conglomerate of subjects meant to silo the way that we think as opposed to basing all of wisdom in God’s wisdom, in His word, and it all makes sense, looking at it through that lens.”
Pete Hegseth: “I took social studies. The progressives made it up. It’s a made up conglomerate of subjects meant to silo the way that we think as opposed to basing all of wisdom in God’s wisdom” pic.twitter.com/ANxbNHd1K8
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) November 3, 2022
Social Studies, of course, includes civics and history, and philosophy. In fact, the National Council for the Social Studies offers a definition for social studies:
“Social studies is the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities to promote civic competence,” which Hegseth appears to object to.
“Within the school program, social studies provides coordinated, systematic study drawing upon such disciplines as anthropology, archaeology, economics, geography, history, law, philosophy, political science, psychology, religion, and sociology, as well as appropriate content from the humanities, mathematics, and natural sciences.”
“The primary purpose of social studies is to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world.”
Hegseth is not alone in wanting to reduce what children learn.
Republican Kari Lake, Arizona’s GOP nominee for governor and a former TV news reporter whose entire education was in public schools, now thinks school children don’t need to learn as much as they are currently when it comes to science, math, and history.
“I believe we are at a prime opportunity to completely re-envision how our government schools are run, because everyone’s eyes are open,” Lake told supporters at an event while campaigning with far-right white Christian nationalist U.S. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ).
“And who says we have to have this many hours of science, this many of math and history? We can change that up,” said Lake about an entire state’s public school system that already has been “ranked worst across the 50 United States of America,” according to a report in Arizona’s KGUN 9 News.
“What does it mean to have a high school diploma? It should mean that you know some of the basics, and you also have some ability to go out and make a living. Our schools have our kids for 13 years from K through 12 and at the end of 13 years, we should have some competent adults going into the world who can make a living because there are jobs out there.”
Kari Lake suggested rolling back high school graduation requirements for science, math, and history.
Lake: “Who says we have to have this many hours of science, this many of math and history? We can change that up.” pic.twitter.com/WkNMcHGYom
— PatriotTakes (@patriottakes) November 2, 2022
Notice how Lake doesn’t say, “public schools,” but “government schools,” a term many on the right use to demonize public schools, expanding their belief that anything the government does is wrong, bad, or a waste of tax dollars.
Lake also sounds like she’s suggesting high school graduates are not able to get jobs because they have spent too much time learning about science, math, and history.
Then there’s far right Christian dominionist Republican Lt. Governor of North Carolina Mark Robinson, who is another extremist attacking education.
Robinson made national headlines after calling LGBTQ people “filth.”
In August MSNBC’s Ja’han Jones wrote that Robinson “may well be the most bigoted official in the United States with the least name recognition.”
Calling him “a full-on extremist,” Jones writes that Robinson And “reportedly has a new, ludicrous belief to share with the masses: Science and history shouldn’t be taught to students until they reach sixth grade.”
“First through fifth grades ‘don’t need to be teaching social studies,’ he wrote, according to local NBC affiliate WRAL-TV, which obtained an advanced copy of his upcoming book,” Jones adds, reporting that Robinson wrote: “We don’t need to be teaching science. We surely don’t need to be talking about equity and social justice.”
There’s more to Robinson’s extremist ideas on education.
Get rid of it. Or, specifically, Jones writes, Robinson has ” called for the elimination of the state’s board of education.”
“Robinson said flatly what most fact-averse conservatives won’t admit about their education crusade,” Jones continues. “They fear accurate history lessons that could inevitably lead to discussions about systemic disparities. And they fear discussions about science, which may undermine the fundamentalist Christian beliefs at the heart of the conservative movement.”
Jones sums up this entire approach to public education from the right.
“Robinson’s reported ideas about education showcase the logical endpoint of the Republican Party’s assault on lessons about social inequality: an eagerness to keep children stupid.”