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Vestal: A private Idaho hurts children’s development

Shawn Vestal (Jesse Tinsley / The Spokesman-Review)

The Coeur d’Alene School Board has made it clear. The kids whose educations are under their charge do not reside in the world. They are not global citizens.

They live in Idaho, and Idaho only.

The board, earlier this week, made its second stand against the grave threat of internationalist, one-world-order education, banishing a program that emphasized multiculturalism, global citizenship and awareness of other places. The program also has a suspiciously British spelling – the Primary Years Programme – which is a tipoff that it’s a secret arm of the United Nations and Agenda 21, the plan for global domination through land-use zoning.

Is being a global citizen such a bad thing? Trustee Ann Seddon said it can be.

“A global citizen would then be a member of the world, owes allegiance to it and is entitled to the international rights of the U.N.,” Seddon said, according to S-R coverage of Monday night’s school board meeting.

Holy cow. Allegiance to the world. Nations united. The mark of the beast. Someone had to step in, obviously, and protect Coeur d’Alene’s tender youth.

The Primary Years Programme is a “World School” focused on kids ages 3 to 12. It emphasizes themes of “global significance” and a “transdisciplinary” approach, which seeks to break down boundaries among traditional subjects. The PYP themes: “Who we are; Where we are in place and time; How we express ourselves; How the world works; How we organize ourselves; Sharing the planet.”

It is the grade-school wing of the International Baccalaureate program for older students, which the Coeur d’Alene board chased off in August, despite support from teachers who argued that it was a wonderful – and optional – advanced program. IB is based in Geneva, a city of peace, diplomacy and excellent watches located dangerously near the birthplace of famous sharer Karl Marx.

IB’s mission statement will turn your hair plumb white:

“The International Baccalaureate aims to develop inquiring, knowledgeable, and caring young people who help to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. To this end, the IB works with schools, governments, and international organizations to develop challenging programmes of international education and rigorous assessment. These programmes encourage students across the world to become active, compassionate, and lifelong learners who understand that other people, with their differences, can also be right.”

Other people – different people – can also be right. Disgusting.

So, the kids are safe from sharing, though the threat looms, out there in the frightening, allegiance-sapping world. They are in Idaho and of Idaho – and Idaho only. This Idaho is not a physical place. It is not the state and not all of the people. This nonglobal citizenship – this uniculturalism – is a framework. A way of thinking. A private Idaho, if you will, where paranoia paints the most innocuous forms of disagreement and “other-ness” as frightening and dangerous. A private Idaho that thrives all over the place, including here in Spokane. A private Idaho that demonizes government institutions while gobbling up more taxpayer money than it gives, that thrives on a sense of constant, pending apocalypse, that seeks to protect children from any idea that falls outside the boundaries of Genesis and Revelation.

A private Idaho where naive parochialism blocks all incoming signals, which in turn fosters political extremism and milder forms of bigotry, which in turn provides nice, lush cover for the deepest, ugliest hatreds.

Not everyone in Idaho lives in this Idaho, as the passionate outpouring of support for PYP proves. And this Idaho isn’t anything new; it’s the moldering fruit from the tree of the John Birch society and anticommunist fear-mongering. But it is ascendant and intensifying; it sometimes seems as if this private Idaho is taking over the real place, as the politics devolve into a more-conservative-than-thou battle, a race to be Reagan that Reagan himself would have lost.

But the school board vote shows that the denizens of this private Idaho are in control. Even board members who might not have objected to the PYP found themselves having to consider the strife and turmoil of the battle. School officials even pondered the possibility of having PYP and non-PYP schools – separate but equal.

Hostility toward public schools – toward the very notion of anyone putting ideas into the heads of children or, worse, equipping children with the tools for producing their own subversive thoughts – is one of the key fumes of the atmosphere in this private Idaho.

It’s horrible for kids, this attempt to erect walls around them, to block incoming signals, to treat their minds as propaganda bins. The bright side – the sliver of hope for the students in this private Idaho – is that children resist, rebel, inquire, seek. They learn, and not just what we think we’re teaching.

The residents of this private Idaho cannot keep the world outside the gate. It gets in. And the kids, with any luck, can get out.

Shawn Vestal can be reached at (509) 459-5431 or Follow him on Twitter at @vestal13.