Today, we celebrate a win in Scottsdale public schools. Parent opposition has resulted in the temporary suspension of a controversial curriculum called Listenwise. Usage of the audio/video platform is available to the district as part of The Savvas Realize portal. The suspension of Listenwise has been granted after the district’s supplemental materials committee, on which I participate, raised concerns about the ideals being pushed on students.
However, the district will further review Listenwise over the summer to make a final decision on its inclusion in SUSD classrooms. Hence, our work is not yet done.
Below, I’ll share why you should be concerned about Listenwise, and what you can do to help.
Listenwise Explanation + Review
Listenwise partners with NPR to offer podcasts that aim to expose students to stories on world events. Each podcast is followed by an online (read: trackable) listening comprehension assessment. Teachers have access to tools to review quiz data and evaluate if students understand their lessons. This could be considered a positive feature … until one reviews what the students are being asked to believe.
Overall, the Listenwise platform leans more towards indoctrination than education in that the messaging lacks diversity of thought. The Listenwise blog reveals their chosen set of topics, which include: anti-racism, black lives matter, common core skills, culturally responsive lessons (the new name for critical race theory), equity (a socialist term used by progressives to convey “equity of outcome” vs. our founding American principles of “equal opportunity”), diversity, and transformative social emotional learning (the implementation tool for critical race theory).
And, in case you’re still not convinced that transformative Social Emotional Learning is tied to Critical Race Theory/Culturally Responsive Teaching/Diversity & Equity programs, Listenwise confirms the connections on their blog. Listenwise even promotes their connection to CASEL, the organization that provides the foundation for transformative Social Emotional Learning programs. CASEL openly proclaims that SEL is a tool for social justice and equity.
So, let’s take a closer look at the NPR-partnered podcasts being offered by Listenwise for your children’s consumption. Consider the political leaning of each of these ideas and it’s not hard to determine which political ideology they are promoting.
- Listenwise tells students that many businesses like the idea of requiring vaccine passports and that most Americans want the government to require mask wearing. They aim to normalize contact tracing and locking down our economy to “protect lives.”
- Regarding Supreme Court Justices, Listenwise celebrates the confirmation of Ketanji Brown, but expresses concern about Amy Coney Barrett.
- Listenwise promotes sexuality choices to minors, tying the theme to popular sports, and claiming that states are passing restrictive laws against the LGBTQ+ community. They also normalize the idea of choosing pronouns and question if Spanish should be gender neutral.
- Listenwise promotes debunked conspiracy theories that highways built in the 1950s have destroyed thriving ethnic neighborhoods, and that Biden’s policies are saving them.
- Listenwise advocates for statehood of Washington D.C (and here)
- Listenwise offered a one-sided argument that COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective (and here and here) for kids 5-11 … and that the government requiring vaccines (and here) will end the pandemic.
- Listenwise attributes gun violence to legal gun owners and promotes more gun restrictions.
- Listenwise tells kids that Georgia passed laws restricting voting rights and present as fact that the laws disproportionately affect minority communities.
- Listenwise promotes redistribution of wealth in the form of universal income as “one of the best ways to address economic inequality.”
- Listenwise encourages the idea that the voting age should be 16 because young people are political activists.
Still not convinced this curriculum is an issue? Listenwise also:
- Advocates for increased government surveillance of US citizens.
- Claims gerrymandering gives white people more voting power
- Encourages kids to become climate activists, and rails against the Keystone pipeline.
- Encourages “reimagining” policing and diverting resources to community services.
- Justifies violent protests during the pandemic due to “police brutality” and “systemic racism,” while questioning if religious freedom was at odds with public health.
- Suggests that Americans favor giving up their freedoms.
- Promotes the ideas that our institutions are setup to disadvantage black Americans.
- Advocates that not allowing felons’ to vote is discrimination against blacks.
- Praises Biden’s “ambitious plan to improve America’s infrastructure” without a single mention of his negative impact on Afghanistan, the U.S. border, public education, women’s rights or inflation.
Every one of the Listenwise lessons that we reviewed could be talking points directly from the Biden Administration or the “Squad” in Congress. It is clear that indoctrination of our children is the objective of the Listenwise propaganda.
While I have been successful at temporarily stopping the adoption of this politically biased material, we all need to stand up to stop it permanently.
What Can You Do to Help?
- Email the Scottsdale School District and voice your concerns. You can use the Let’s Talk feature found on susd.org.
- Forward this email to two friends and help us spread the word. Knowledge is power.
- Speak at school board meetings and share your thoughts.
- Support school board candidates who will do the work necessary to keep indoctrination like Listenwise out of Scottsdale schools.
Our students’ academic achievement is the ultimate priority in school. We must give them the opportunity to thrive.
I am running for one of the two open seats in the November 8, 2022, election to fight for the families of Scottsdale and keep this type of propaganda out of our schools. Please consider learning more about my campaign at www.WernerForSUSD.com and together we can fight for our kids from within the system.