PHYLLIS SCHLAFLY REPORT -- June 1999 - PART 1 What Caused Columbine? Everybody's looking for the causes of the terrible tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, and for ways to prevent such horrible happenings in the future. Hillary Clinton has volunteered her intuition that "part of growing up is learning how to control one's impulses." Putting aside the point that most of us don't have impulses to go on a killing rampage, who is going to teach kids to control their impulses? Certainly not the "village" (i.e., the government or government schools), which Mrs. Clinton believes should have prime responsibility for raising children. For the past 25 years, the prevailing dogma in public school teaching has been Values Clarification (as in the tremendously influential 1972 book of the same name by Sidney Simon). That means teaching students to reject "the old moral and ethical standards," and instead "make their own choices" and "build their own value system." Indeed, Eric Harris and his sidekick, Dylan Klebold, did "build their own value system," which allowed them to kill 13 people at Columbine, then take their own lives. Harris and Klebold were not dumb or underprivileged; they came from affluent two-parent families. Professionals who evaluated them concluded that Harris was "a very bright young man who is likely to succeed in life," and that Klebold was "intelligent enough to make any dream a reality." (New York Times, April 23, 1999) Values Clarification teaches that, since there are absolutely no absolutes, students should engage in personal "decision making" about behavior instead of looking to God, the Ten Commandments, parents, church, or other authority which teaches that behavior should conform to traditional morality. Values Clarification is a book of 79 dilemmas for the teacher to present to the students. The most frequently used classroom dilemma is the "lifeboat game" (and its numerous variations, such as the fallout shelter). The student is told there are ten people in a sinking lifeboat and four must be thrown out to drown so that the other six may live. The student is vested with the authority to decide who lives and who dies. Shall it be the famous author, or the pregnant woman, or the rabbi, or the Hollywood dancer, or the policeman? Any answer is acceptable -- whatever each student feels comfortable with is OK, and the students can all choose different drowning targets because there are no right or wrong answers. No wrong answers, that is, except one. One mother told our Eagle Forum Parents Advisory Center that her child answered the question by saying, "Jesus brought another boat and nobody had to drown." That child got an F for giving an unacceptable answer. The world view of Cassie Bernall, who looked into the barrel of a gun and said, "Yes, I believe in God," is not acceptable within the rubric of Values Clarification. She was killed by a fellow student who had built his own value system. As in the "lifeboat game," Harris and Klebold had already decided that it was their right to decide who would live and who would die. Harris posted on the Internet: "My belief is that if I say something, it goes. I am the law, and if you don't like it, you die. . . . Feel no remorse, no sense of shame." (Washington Post, April 29, 1999) As part of a Government and Economics class at Columbine, Harris and Klebold made a video in which they showed themselves as hit men hired out to do violence to athletes. The video was violent and ended with the two bludgeoning the head of a dummy amid much fake blood. It amounted to a practice run for the Columbine shooting. The teacher of that class has refused to talk to reporters about the tape. (Washington Post, April 29, 1999) Another student-made video ends with four students walking away from Columbine High School, which explodes in a scene of orange special-effects flashings. (Denver Rocky Mountain News, May 6, 1999) When a surviving student was asked if anybody noticed anything odd about these student-made videos, she replied that "everybody's video involved fighting." She noted that many of the videos were violent and that her own contained sexual scenes. In Creative Writing class, Harris wrote his will as one of his assignments. Harris's and Klebold's writings were filled with gore and profanity. According to another student, they wrote about "rocket launchers, grenades, zombies killing people, ripping people's flesh." Harris and Klebold spent hours and hours playing "death matches" with violent computer games. (Associated Press, April 22, 1999) Harris was thrilled when Bill Clinton started bombing Yugoslavia. A classmate who sat next to him remembers Harris saying, "I hope we do go to war. . . . [I want to] shoot every one." Harris tried to enlist, but Marine recruiters turned him down when they discovered he had taken a powerful anti-depressant drug called Luvox. (Washington Post, April 29, 1999) Modern public school teaching exalts "tolerance" of other people's behavior as the highest virtue, and "self-esteem" as education's principal objective. Harris and Klebold made a practice of annoying their teachers by propping their feet on their desks and leaning back in their chairs. In the modern classroom, we are forbidden to be "judgmental" about the behavior of others when they indulge their impulses instead of controlling them. Death Education at Columbine In 1987 Eagle Forum of Colorado produced a two-hour video in which student Tara Becker spoke at length about the relentless focus on death, dying and suicide in her junior class at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. She and several of her classmates attempted suicide as a result of this depressing curriculum, and it took them many months to recover from the experience. Tara was subsequently interviewed for an ABC-TV 20/20 program (aired Sept. 21, 1990) where she said, "I had thought about [suicide] as a possible option for a lot of years, but I never would have gone through with it, never, because I wasn't brave enough. The things that we learned in the class taught us how to be brave enough to face death." She added, "We talked about what we wanted to look like in our caskets." The 20/20 segment showed morbid visuals of student visits to cemeteries, to embalming labs where they were encouraged to touch "still warm human remains," and to crematoriums where they were told about picking bones out of the ashes. ABC stated that one out of ten schools teaches death education, that there is no approved curriculum, and that the teachers' training often consists only of a one-day workshop. It was clear that ABC's Hugh Downs and Tom Jarriel thought that death education was bizarre. Jarriel concluded the segment by asking if these courses "suggest death as an answer to adolescent problems." We urge ABC to re-air that important segment because of its relevance today. Curiously, ABC refused to release a tape of this program to Matt Drudge. In 1988, Atlantic Monthly published an investigative article ("Mortal Fears," Feb. 1988, p.30) confirming that death and dying courses are given in "thousands of schools," often sneaked into health, social studies, literature or home-economics courses without parents' knowledge. Atlantic described how these courses require students to visit cemeteries and funeral homes, write their own epitaphs to be put on tombstones made out of construction paper, write obituaries, wills, or suicide notes, decide how they would prefer to die, and plan their own funerals, body disposal and pallbearers. Atlantic quoted from professional journals to demonstrate the widespread support for death education among educators. It quoted The School Counselor as stating in 1977: "Death education will play as important a part in changing attitudes toward death as sex education played in changing attitudes toward sex information and wider acceptance of various sexual practices." Atlantic also quoted a National Education Association report entitled "Education for the 70's" which stated: "Schools will become clinics whose purpose is to provide individualized, psycho-social treatment for the student, and teachers must become psycho-social therapists." Most parents are unaware that the mission of the public schools has dramatically changed in the last 20 years by downgrading basic academics and instead using teachers as pseudo-psychologists conducting group therapy. This change was best described by the late U.S. Senator (and former university president) Sam Hayakawa, who -- in successfully persuading Congress to pass the Protection of Pupil Rights Amendment (PPRA) in 1978 -- said that the public schools have adopted "an educational heresy . . . that rejects the idea of education as the acquisition of knowledge and skills . . . and regards the fundamental task in education as therapy." This invasion of the public school classroom by pseudo-psychologists conducting group therapy opened the floodgates to all sorts of psychological courses and surveys in sexuality, drugs, incest, death, suicide, stress, and self-esteem. Some of these courses incorporate guided imagery or New Age or occult practices. Readers used in elementary schools are often filled with weird or violent images, and little children are often taught to take their problems to Pumsy the dragon or DUSO the dolphin. Surely, one of the weirdest of these psychological courses is death education. According to the Atlantic Monthly article, parents in Illinois, Missouri, Michigan and Florida have attributed their sons' suicides to public school courses in death, dying, or suicide. Littleton, Colorado is an area where public schools for many years have adopted all the trendy "edufads" such as Outcome Based Education. OBE is a dumbing-down process that is heavy on the use of attitudinal and subjective materials and tests, rather than (in Hayakawa's words) "the acquisition of knowledge and skills." In 1993, at the high school in the district adjacent to Columbine, parents rebelled against this dumbing-down process and, by a two-to-one vote, elected a "back-to-basics" school board. The teachers union struck back in the following election and retook control. The union was supported by People for the American Way, using the usual negative slurs to accuse those opposed to OBE of being "fundamentalists" and part of the "religious right." Some politicians, unfortunately, are using the Columbine tragedy to push their liberal political agenda, such as gun control. That's obviously not the answer since killers Harris and Klebold violated at least 17 current federal and state gun control laws that, had they lived, would have kept them locked up for the rest of their lives. Does anybody think that Harris and Klebold would not have known how to release a mandatory gun lock? Or would have been deterred by a three-day waiting period, since Harris's own journal detailed year-long plans for the killing? The tragedies at Columbine High School, as well as those in Washington, Mississippi, Kentucky, Arkansas, Oregon, and Georgia, demand that we investigate the curriculum taught in the public schools, the value system that is taught, and the powerful legal drugs that children are taking. We are paying a terrible price for allowing public school curricula to teach students to create "their own value system" instead of respecting moral laws such as "Thou shalt not kill." <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> Subscribe to the Phyllis Schlafly Report for only $20 per year. Send check or money order to: Eagle Forum PO Box 618 [email protected] Alton, IL 62002 Phone: 618-462-5415 Fax: 618-462-8909 or visit our on-line store at: <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> This report may also be read on-line at: <><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><><> To subscribe to Eagle E-mail please e-mail [email protected] with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line. 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