Our Public Schools’ Sinister Secularity

Even in the prosperous school districts of Connecticut’s Gold Coast, the dark specter of public education’s relentless and ubiquitous assault on conservative ideas and values is alive and well.  And, it is in the news, as Project Veritas’ latest video on education reveals.  It is entitled “The Secret Curriculum, Part One.”

The latest public schools’ transgression involves hiring practices that subtly eliminate conservatives, particularly Catholics, because of their moral values, their social, cultural and political opinions and the philosophical ideas arising from their faith. 

As the video interview reveals, typical hiring processes, in this school are a deliberately deceptive process of elimination masking a subtle strategy with a clear left-wing, Democratic political, ideological and even a religious bias in hiring.  Yet all this is not new.  Nor is it really news.  For these ideas and actions are endemic to public education and public schools, not just to its hiring practices, as revealed in the video interview.

As a teacher and administrator in public schools for twenty-five years, this subtle, sinister bias affects more than hiring.  Much more.  It affects the curriculum and textbooks.  It affects classroom instruction and the moral content and emphases at all grade levels.  And, it affects the culture and values of schools and districts, not just in left leaning districts and states, but, to some degree, virtually all public schools across the nation.

And, these proclivities have been around for decades.  For in great measure, these left-wing ideas are inherent in the very essence of public education and its secular values and ideas, its beliefs and its presuppositions.  For the outrage over the recent string of public schools’ complicity with the many issues of critical race theory, identity politics and transgender accommodations now littering the news stem from parental and conservative ignorance and naivete. 

Conservatives, evangelical Christians and orthodox Catholics have assumed “secular” public education is or is intended to be a “religiously neutral” endeavor and a “politically inclusive” one.  But, the reality of public schools’ is and can never be “neutral” or “inclusive,” as can be easily demonstrated, particularly in light of its foundational ideas. 

First of all, there is no “neutral” answer to the question of the existence of God.  Reason dictates two and only two options.  Either God exists.  Or, God doesn’t exist.  That is it.  That is the full range of rational and practical possibilities at this most basic level.  Those who take the position of uncertainty about the question of God do not offer a third possibility, but have merely been unable or unwilling to make that decision. 

So, how could this exclusion of reality in public schools be seriously considered a religiously “neutral” education?  How could public education possibly be religiously “neutral” or even fair in its classroom instruction and its school culture in light of its universal exclusion of religion, particularly the Western religious traditions?   That hard line of religious exclusion is what secularism is by its very nature.  And the Oxford Dictionary of the English Language makes that starkly certain. 

Secularism is “the belief that religion and religious considerations should be deliberately omitted from temporal affairs; a system of belief based on the doctrine that morality should be determined solely with regard to the well-being of humankind in the present life, to the exclusion of all considerations drawn from belief in God or in a future existence.  The view that education, especially that which is publicly funded, should not promote religious belief or include religious instruction.”

Read that again.  “Religion … should be deliberately omitted.”  “Morality should be determined solely with regard to the well-being of humankind to the exclusion of all considerations drawn from belief in God.”  Public education “should not promote religious belief.”  Can this be any clearer? 

So, why are we surprised at such hiring practices and the subtlety employed to circumvent “fair hiring” laws?  And, why are we, as orthodox Catholics or conservatives, surprised by the moral and political policies and curricula of our public schools?  Leaving out religion and its inherent morality means purpose and meaning, morality and what it means to be a human being are the direct products of collective or individual determination.  It means there is no inherent order, meaning or morality. 

No appeal may be made to transcendent meaning or values because all that is derivative from religion or from philosophical rational deduction.  And, as most secular moderns know, rational deduction is just rhetorical sleight of hand.  For science is our only source for truth and fact.  And reason isn’t science.  So, everything is arbitrary.  And, that makes everything political. 

That is why even the tightest moral argument grounded in logical justification and rational certainty can be summarily dismissed as mere opinion and remanded to the realm of political points-of-view.  That is why what was once common sense is no longer so “common.” Nor does it make sense.  For rationality and logic are no longer real pathways to truth.  They are merely manipulative means to justify your personal opinion and your arbitrary and preferential political positions on the prominent issues of the moment such as this surreptitious hiring example reveals.

This inherent relativism is the open door to political manipulation and the platform for professional education’s philosophical and cultural beliefs and professional educators’ ability to infuse their classroom instruction with overt and covert messaging to their naïve and ignorant students. 

For teachers can comment subtly with the tone of their voice and their facial expression, with what they stress and what they overlook, in what they approve of and what they disapprove.  For grading is a big part of any education.  And, grading is a no small power, particularly in secondary schools, as these grades matter for college admissions, scholarships and recommendations.  So, conformity to a school’s or teacher’s beliefs and expectations can affect student’s evaluations and their perceived success, even it is just a matter of degree, however so slight. 

Conservative, Christian and Catholic teachers and teachers-in-training know this and must find ways to mitigate these influences in their collegiate training and throughout their professional lives.  State Departments of Education, teacher unions and district supervisory personnel all contribute to this reality to varying degrees, so that public education can appear to be almost monolithic in its influence and authority and in its political and moral inclinations. 

This leaves such teachers to find small ways to mitigate these influences in their classrooms and in their relationships with their conservative, Christian and Catholic students once they know them.  This is why conservatives continually support school-choice initiatives that empower parents to influence the curricula and culture of such schools.  This why many Christian and Catholic parents tend to support a voucher system, so they may use such vouchers in religious schools of their choosing. 

And, this is why many Catholic parents want our Catholic schools to return to the orthodoxy of our Catholic faith, to stop using Catholic schools as revenue streams for the parishes and dioceses, to limit ancillary services that drive tuition up and to make Catholic education affordable to all Catholic families, as they once were.

For all three of these groups know that public, secular education is unreformable by definition.  They know or should know this because what changes might be enacted over extended periods of time and effort on their part can never truly bring about the changes necessary to meet the demands of their philosophy, the morality of their convictions or the truth of their faith. 

For public education is inherently atheistic and philosophically bereft of truth, meaning and morality.  And, that is the true lesson Project Veritas’ video tells us.   So, for those who have ears, let them hear.

Photo by MChe Lee on Unsplash

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Mr. Cronin has studied on a graduate level in education at Harvard University and at the University of Connecticut, in leadership at Columbia University and in theology at Regent University and Holy Apostles College and Seminary. He also writes regularly for The National Catholic Register and appeared on EWTN’s The Journey Home with Marcus Grodi following his 2007 reversion to the Catholic faith from atheism and evangelical Protestantism.

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