Tuesday, 18 October 2011

IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America

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"This is a story of our children and an ideological struggle in which our children are the prize. This is the story of the big yellow bus. This is the story of indoctrination."

So begins the mesmerizing introduction to IndoctriNation: Public Schools and the Decline of Christianity in America, a hard-hitting, 90-minute documentary presented by the Exodus Mandate and the Christian Liberty Academy School System.

The film features Colin Gunn, a homeschooling father of eight, who originally hails from Scotland but now lives in Texas. A camera accompanies him, his wife, Emily, and their children as they travel in a yellow school bus on an educational odyssey, throughout the United States, to examine the origins of American mass public schooling and its subsequent negative impact on the culture.

Gunn speaks to a large cast of writers, historians, educators, and ministers who are as articulate as they are provocative. (Familiar names to readers of this website include Sam Blumenfeld and John Taylor Gatto.)

While Gunn comes across as merely a curious interviewer, not condemning folks for their educational choices or singling them out, the documentary certainly has a bias and urgency in encouraging Christian parents (if they haven't done so) to "get their children out!'"To that end, two of most powerful moments in the film occur during conversations with Brian Rohrbough and Sarah LaVerdiere. Mr. Rohrbough, whose 15-year-old son Daniel died in the Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, is now an ardent supporter of both the homeschooling and the pro-life movements. Mrs. LaVerdiere is a former public school teacher-turned-whistleblower whose religious convictions led her to resign from her job in North Carolina.

Mother Jones, the leftist news organization, has panned the documentary, while Dr. Ted Baehr, the Christian movie critic, has praised it. Scott Eash, the film's producer, reports that today is the film's official release date, to be followed by public screenings around the country. Further information can be found at: http://blog.indoctrinationmovie.com/2011/09/09/release_detail/

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The project, from start to finish, took three years. Filmmaker Colin Gunn agreed to a question and answer session with The New American.

TNA: You claim that 90 percent of Christian children are enrolled in public schools. How did you arrive at that statistic?

GUNN: It's hard to pinpoint a precise number. We've seen various statistics anywhere from 80 to 90 percent, but the important point is that the vast majority of Christian parents are sending their children there.

TNA: The film makes a compelling case that students who attend public schools are indoctrinated so that they casually accept everything from promiscuity to remedial academics to physical violence. Why do you think, given the abysmal results, that so many church-going parents surrender their children to the State for their education?

GUNN: They are either being deceived (by the schools, media, churches, and others) about the true nature of the system, or are deceiving themselves into thinking that their schools are better than the other schools.

TNA: What do you hope to accomplish with this documentary, which, no doubt, will alienate some believers of the ilk of Franklin Graham who think "missionaries" are needed in government schools?

GUNN: Alienation is not our intention — our inclusion of Franklin Graham was to set the groundwork for the debate. We do, however, seek to prove that sending children into public schools as missionaries is not effective and is, in fact, extremely risky for the child.

TNA: Your documentary is light on specific alternatives to public education. What solutions do you recommend? Homeschooling? Christian schools? Tax credits? Vouchers? Charter schools?

GUNN: I don't think we are light on an alternative. The film starts with us defined as a homeschooling family, and during the film we contrast what happens in public schools with what I want for my children.

As for alternatives, this is not a film with a political problem/solution. The action we call parents to is to protect their children by taking them out of the public school system. Obviously, whatever alternative they choose is up to them, but homeschooling is what I do and it's what I recommend to others.

Isabel Lyman, a longtime independent journalist and author of The Homeschooling Revolution, also blogs at The Castillo Chronicles: http://thecastillochronicles.blogspot.com