Big Tent Ideas

AIDEN BUZZETTI: The Root Cause Behind Radicalism On College Campuses Goes Way Deeper Than Teachers

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Aiden Buzzetti Contributor
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All across America, parents are shocked to find their teenagers screaming and sleeping in tents on college quads. Although some are peaceful protestors vocalizing their First Amendment rights, others are going to radical measures to protest Israel — smashing windows, breaking trespassing laws and some even openly supporting Hamas.

Parents wonder how their kids ended up here, with many presuming college professors radicalized their children. This is the case in some circumstances — colleges such as Tulane University have offered classes on activism with course titles like “Protest, White Supremacy, Social Justice, and EDI Activism.” But the truth is the damage often starts much earlier.

As the 1776 Project PAC’s head of Coalitions and Candidate Recruitment, I have witnessed the radicalization firsthand. Our PAC is the leading group endorsing conservative candidates for school boards. (RELATED: ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Here’s How Woke DEI Initiatives Fuel Antisemitism On College Campuses)

We are working to restore sense to American education. A big part of our work involves researching the roots of the problems.

Over and over again we have recognized one major cause: the teachers’ colleges that train teachers, radicalize them and then ship them to K-to-12 public schools across America, where they begin radicalizing students at a young age — radicalization that has inspired much of the campus protests around America.

Teachers lack Ph.Ds, but they study at teachers’ colleges where woke ideas flourish. Schools require teachers to have teaching degrees and get recertification to instruct public-school students. Often, teachers enroll in courses that rail against American history, rant about colonialism and instill radical values that we have since seen in various campus protests — from BLM to the recent protests at Columbia.

If you look at the major teaching colleges’ curriculums, you see that these programs indoctrinate teachers, who then indoctrinate America.

According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, 77% of students in education programs attended regular universities. Most teachers attend four-year colleges, with varying class loads.

It is difficult to quantify the number who attend woke classes, but large universities in the largest states often possess additional degree requirements and optional certifications that explore equity and “justice-based” approaches to education. Many programs force future teachers to enroll in DEI courses.

We have a huge teacher shortage and it is a problem, but the teachers who are going through the system right now, more often than not, have been taught from a social justice and systemic oppression angle. Social justice academia serves as the foundation of their student interactions and what they choose to prioritize in the classroom. These lessons set students up for college.

The evidence is in the policies proliferating across America’s K-12 classrooms, even in red states like Florida. In Indian River County’s Strategic Plan from 2022, before the 1776 Project PAC got involved, administrators proposed to eliminate disparities in classroom removals, effectively punishing students more or less often depending on their individual ethnicity.

Their plan outlined ways to reduce disparities between out-of-school suspensions and classroom removals between black and white students. Meanwhile, if a white student got in trouble, they could receive suspension.

Other school districts and education organizations have participated in Black Lives Matter at School Week. Once upon a time, we taught history. Now we teach activism.

How do you solve these issues?

From a policy level, we must expand the number of teachers. Some districts allow schools to hire uncertified teachers during an extreme shortage, but this has its own problems and is only a temporary solution.

We want to make sure qualified people teach our future leaders. Still, overall, teachers are stuck in the same mandated courses and development plans.

We need a new path to certification. One way this could look is by modeling future teacher pipelines through apprenticeship programs like Tennessee. A key component of the program is that it allows localities to set the standard requirements, which can range from no degree to a bachelor’s, with the length of the apprenticeship depending on the degree of education.

It starts with the school boards. The role of school boards is simple: They are the primary oversight vehicle for the carrying out of education in the district. This includes hiring superintendents, teachers, and administrators and setting the standards for curriculum and discipline.

Too many board members get elected and sit on their laurels instead of pushing a positive vision for the district and proactively overseeing the implementation of new board policies and standards. Superintendents need to be held accountable for individual teachers who stray into social justice activism at the expense of core units, and school boards must restrict political displays.

School boards need to embrace their power. They must pass a policy to prevent political displays from teachers. They need to adopt a policy that guides teachers in addressing controversial topics without including their point of view, and they need to require teachers to inform parents what they are teaching.

We can only fix the problem when we address the issue in the teacher colleges and stop K-12 teachers from indoctrinating students. Otherwise, new college tent grounds will pop up every few years.

Aiden Buzzetti is the President of the 1776 Project Foundation. He was previously the Director of Coalitions for the 1776 Project PAC and can be found on X at @AidenBuzzetti.

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of the Daily Caller News Foundation.

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