By Ben Velderman
ALTOONA, Pa. – It appears that Dr. Timothy Slekar could use an extended sabbatical to rest his fevered mind.
Last week, EAGnews reported that Slekar – an education professor at Penn State Altoona who blogs for the Huffington Post under the name “The Chalk Face” – was encouraging his readers to subvert our children’s patriotic essay contest by submitting “fake” essays. (According to Slekar, asking children to explain why they love and appreciate this country is “right-wing nonsense.”)
While sabotaging a children’s essay contest is bizarre conduct for a distinguished member of academia, Slekar exhibited even more worrisome ideas in his latest blog, which compares American education reform efforts to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
To review, the Rwandan genocide was caused by the Hutus attacking the Tutsis. Over the course of three months, approximately 800,000 people were killed, according to BBC News.
Slekar, who recently traveled with other faculty members to Rwanda, writes that he and his fellow education professors began to see “similarities in the origins of the genocide and the current reform practices happening in American schools.”
According to Slekar, the root cause of the Rwandan genocide occurred “110 years ago (when) Belgium missionaries sorted a common people into various groups based on an arbitrary statistic – cow ownership.”
“ … (W) all felt there was something eerily similar – obviously not the outcome of Genocide – but the early sorting of people into different groups based on an arbitrary statistic (# of cows owned) and then bestowing privilege on one group and shame on another,” Slekar writes.
He alleges that education reformers similarly use a “false” metric – standardized test scores – to sort “our children, teachers and public schools,” presumably into winners and losers, haves and have-nots.
He writes that education reformers have placed so much emphasis on standardized test scores, that is has led to a “negligent approach to teaching and learning” which makes it likely that students will draw “inappropriate connections between events in history that result from only a surface understanding or no understanding of history whatsoever.”
In other words, standardized testing will create a generation of history-illiterate adults who will not remember the Rwandan genocide or similar atrocities, thus increasing the likelihood new ones will occur.
The logic behind Slekar’s argument doesn’t hold up. Education reformers want to use testing to ensure that students are able to read and perform basic academic skills. If students lack those tools, what good would a unit about the Rwandan genocide do them? If they can’t read or locate Africa on a map, telling them about the Hutus and the Tutsis will have no meaning or value.
But his worries about testing causing historical illiteracy are a sham. If he was truly concerned about developing students into critical thinkers, he would be marching in lock-step with reformers to make sure every child can read and that ineffective, inept, and indifferent educators are removed from the classroom.
The reality is that Slekar doesn’t like the fact that Americans are finally holding radical teachers accountable for what’s being taught in the classroom. It’s getting tougher for Slekar and his ilk to indoctrinate students with their far-left propaganda.
And it’s causing him to crack under the pressure. His “genocide” blog was so over-the-top that the Huffington Post refused to publish it.
Like we said, maybe a sabbatical would help clear Slekar’s mind, and put an end to his paranoid, left-wing fantasies.