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PUBLIC EDUCATION IS APPALLING

I grew up in Salt Lake City and receive news through family, some of whom sent me a copy of "Father Calls School Survey Sexually Explicit" (Forum, April 12). Education appears to be just as intrusive back home in Utah as in Virginia where I now live.

Our educators also claim our sex-ed classes are abstinence-based, but my son says they are told "where to go" and that parents need not know. After my children described objectionable curricula in core academic subjects, I took a close look. In Civics, "service" surveys my sons took asked if they thought some honesty was necessary, if property rights were important, who they thought was evil, and if they owed their parents love and loyalty. Most parents are unaware that intrusive surveys or probing class discussions and/or assignments are illegal (Grassley Amendment to Goals 2000, which affirms our inherent inalienable Fourth Amendment right to be secure against unreasonable searches of any nature, not just physical searches).Educators are forbidden by law to query opinions, attitudes or beliefs of students, but they do it anyway.

Today's educators seem to prefer social engineering to teaching academics. Our educators recently fought state attempts to strengthen academic standards. The students learn about all kinds of sex, but many can't read the instructions on the condoms that they are encouraged to use. Students can't spell, punctuate or use proper grammar, but they know all about feelings. They need a calculator to do simple math. They can't talk to adults, including employers, because the schools have trained them to be peer dependent.

My son was subjected to a class discussion (English) on whether or not suicide was an acceptable option, with no guidance one way or another from the teacher. The class majority agreed that suicide was an option to consider. This is called "critical thinking," but educators neglect to teach a solid factual foundation to base higher order thinking skills upon.

Everything is feelings-based. My son was often expected to reflect teachers' ideology and learned the risk of independent thinking can be having to rewrite his assignment according to the teacher's views or get a failing grade. A violent literature anthology (Elements of Literature, HRW) with a strong anti-parent bias (especially in the teacher's manual) is approved for use in all 50 states. This text includes exercises where the student takes the viewpoint of a violent offender. Concepts of accountability are nowhere to be found.

When I questioned such exercises, I was accused of censorship. A local high school principal stated in a newsletter that the mission of today's schools is "no longer academics but socialization." The National Education Association seems to have a similar view. The intrusive and sexually explicit survey may be just the tip of the iceberg.

I now teach my children at home but still fight for better public education. I urge parents to scrutinize what their children are being taught, especially in language arts and social studies, instead of rubber-stamping what educators do.

Louise Erekson

Chantilly, Va.