McCarthy

Lt. Gov. Janice McCarthy is setting up a committee to monitor teachers for teaching the wrong things.

Did we say McCarthy? Sorry, we meant McGeachin, of course.

McGeachin said the task force will “examine indoctrination in Idaho education and ... protect our young people from the scourge of critical race theory, socialism, communism, and Marxism.”

In short, McGeachin’s “indoctrination task force” is set up to be a roving witch hunt aimed at teachers. It will search for suspect books being taught and other instances of thoughtcrime in schools. Politicians will be in charge of deciding what counts as an illegitimate subject.

No serious person takes seriously the idea that Idaho teachers are setting out to indoctrinate students. Throughout legislative hearings on bills to ban the teaching of “critical race theory,” not a single concrete example of it being taught in an Idaho public school has been raised. But the phantom of critical race theory was sufficiently powerful in the Idaho Legislature to kill the budget that pays for teacher salaries.

McGeachin’s committee could have hideously damaging effects. Sen. Joe McCarthy didn’t unearth a vast communist conspiracy to overthrow the government; that too was a phantom. But the committee did make people afraid, so afraid that they fired or blacklisted people who might draw the attention of the committee, even if they did their jobs well.

That’s the thing about a witch hunt. If it can’t find any witches, it will find people to put pointy hats on. And when someone says there are no witches, the witch hunters will reply: “Of course there are. We just burned three last week.”

So the committee will put teachers in fear. Any time they decide to teach a subject, they will have to ask themselves new questions: “Is someone going to file a report on me? Am I going to wind up in front of the committee?”

This is an attack on education itself.

Students should be exposed to a wide variety of sources and perspectives, and they should be asked to investigate them critically. This isn’t something McGeachin has to teach teachers. It’s a basic tenant of their profession, something any decent teacher does every single day. McGeachin’s committee endangers it.

For example, it is not possible to have a decent course on the history of economic thought without examining the works of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman, among others.

But an economics teacher who wants to avoid an examination by the committee might well drop Marx from that list. So students will have no chance to critically examine beliefs that were a driving force in the history of the 20th century, and without an understanding of those beliefs, it will not be possible to understand history.

Will a literature teacher fear assigning books by George Orwell? After all, Orwell was a committed socialist who traveled to fight in an anarchist militia during the Spanish Civil War. Is the committee going to count “Animal Farm” as socialist indoctrination? Certainly, it will be safer for the teacher not to risk it. So “1984” goes down the memory hole.

Parents who value their children’s education should start pushing back hard immediately. Contact your members of the Legislature, and tell them you want this committee abolished.

The committee itself is seeking reports of instances of indoctrination. Instead, the committee should hear from every parent who values the tremendous sacrifices teachers make to ensure their child has the opportunity to learn and grow. You can submit a report to the committee at tinyurl.com/indoctrination-committee.

Students who are aware of what’s happening should speak up forcefully as well. It’s their education at stake, and they should let this new inquisition know what they think of it.

The Post Register’s editorial board consists of Publisher Travis Quast, Managing Editor Monte LaOrange and editorial writer Bryan Clark. Clark can be reached at 208-542-6751.

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