A teacher at Roosevelt High School in Des Moines, Iowa, passed out a particularly curious flyer to students studying the Cold War. By the looks of the cartoon it contained, the message the high school intended to convey appeared pretty clear:
Here’s how I first read the story, via The Blaze:
This gem was discovered by Simon Conway of Iowa’s Who Radio. A listener who is a parent of a student at the high school, sent the hand out to the radio host. Conway read the words of the flyer verbatim:
“Communism stands for equal sharing of the work according to the benefits and ability. But in Capitalism an individual is responsible for his works and if he wants to raise the ladder, he has to work hard.”
He continued to read and clarify further:
“While the profit of any enterprise is equally shared by all in Communism, the profit in the Capitalist structure belongs to the private owner only.”
When I called Roosevelt High School, though, a spokesperson said very simply, “No, we’re not teaching communism” and directed me to the high school’s website, the front page of which features this statement:
A talk show on WHO Radio has unfortunately misled listeners about a class lesson about the Cold War. The radio show posted, on its web site, only a selectively edited part of a class handout – entitled “The two sides of the Cold War” – in order to give a false impression that students were being taught to support communism.
In light of the misrepresentation caused by this talk show, we have posted the handout and assignments here on our web site so that people can see the complete document for themselves. Furthermore, the class, 20th Century History, was studying the Cold War and propaganda, looking at some of the arguments both sides made about why their system was best on a range of topics, including their economies. The handout simply highlights the differences between capitalism and communism, and some of the arguments made during the period of the Cold War.
It is unfortunate that a talk show host decided to mislead his listeners in order to generate false criticism of our schools and our teachers.
To see the unedited lesson and assignments, click here.
Frankly, the unedited lesson and assignments don’t look much better than the excerpts Simon Conway presented — and I commend Conway’s listener, Conway himself and The Blaze for calling attention to this. I’m fine with a school teaching a lesson plan on “communism as presented by communists” provided they also teach “capitalism as presented by capitalists.” The truth is even more beautiful when compared to falsehood, and ideas, no less than products, should be allowed to compete with one another in the marketplace. Schools — especially at the high school or collegiate level — shouldn’t restrict students’ access to conservative or liberal thought. It’s unfortunate that, in schools’ attempts to synthesize and simplify material, they rarely grant kids access to primary sources. That’s the problem here; the author of the handout can’t simultaneously be both a communist and a capitalist — and, despite his or her best attempt to present an objective overview of the two competing theories, the overview just isn’t quite objective. Parents’ best bet is probably to supplement their kids’ public school education by any means possible. They’re really gonna need the fortification when they get to college.