Anita VanGrunsven had always heard that high school textbooks did a poor job teaching kids about America's founding principles.
She never expected that to be the case in Idaho, though. Then she borrowed a “Magruder's American Government” textbook from her local high school superintendent, and the steam started boiling from her ears.
“You will be shocked to learn what's being taught right here in Idaho,” VanGrunsven told the House Education Committee Wednesday. “This textbook is a liberal Democrat's dream of indoctrination.”
The book's long list of faults, she said, include an inaccurate treatment of the Second Amendment, belittling the American military, virtually ignoring the 9-11 terrorist attacks and “describing Nazis in the same words used to describe the Tea Party.”
For example, VanGrunsven said the author deliberately misconstrues “well-regulated militia” to mean regulated – as in controlled by laws, rather than well-trained – and suggests the right to keep and bear arms is connected with participation in a sanctioned militia group, rather than being an individual right.
Overall, the Adams County Republican precinct committeewoman said the textbook does an inadequate job teaching the Constitution, the Delaration of Independence and other foundational documents.
“Among the things it recommends kids do to get politically active: 'attend a climate change rally,'” she said. “A climate change rally! Excuse me? … Where is the foundational concept of limited government? It's not here. Where is the concept of individual responsibility? It's gone. Is this what you want the future leaders of Idaho to be taught? Am I talking to any Republicans here?”
VanGrunsven urged the committee to revise the state content standards used to evaluate textbooks, to prevent this type of book from being approved. She also wants high school seniors to have to pass a test on the contents of the Constitution and Declaration as a requirement for graduation.
“The basic problem is the takeover of our schools and the indoctrination of our children by the liberal mindset,” she said.
Educational standards have been a popular topic this session.
Senate Education Committee Chairman John Goedde, R-Coeur d'Alene, introduced a joke bill Tuesday requiring students to read Ayn Rand's “Atlas Shrugged.” He reportedly said the book helped turned his son into a Republican.
Earlier this session, Rep. Linden Bateman, R-Idaho Falls, introduced a resolution encouraging the State Board of Education to require that cursive handwriting be taught in Idaho schools.