That's Glenn Beck in 2011, telling his audience why the UN wants to rule the world and suppress all independent thought. From Alex Jones to the John Birch Society to Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, the U.N.'s Agenda 21 is not simply a plan for sustainable development, but a seekrit plot to rule the world!
There will always be conspiracy theories and there will always be nuts spouting them, but we don't usually add them to official school curricula.
In Ohio, though, there's at least one school district infested with paranoid board members.
Springboro Community City School District’s new curriculum — part of an effort to help students think critically and learn to “identify important issues” — mandates that “[a]ll sides of the issue should be given to the students in a dispassionate manner” to help “students to be taught to think clearly on all matters of importance, and to make decisions in the light of all the material that has been presented or can be researched on the issues.”
Controversial issues include:
religion when not used in a historical or factual context, sex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion,contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change, UN Agenda 21 and sustainable development, and any other topic on which opposing points of view have been promulgated by responsible opinion and/or likely to arouse both support and opposition in the community.
Teachers would have to provide equal weight to widely-accepted scientific theories like evolution and right-wing conspiracies advanced by Glenn Beck. Under the policy, students could not learn about sustainable development without also assessing the impact of U.N. Agenda 21, a series of non-binding U.N. recommendations for ensuring that economic growth does not undermine the environment, which conservatives believe will destroy American sovereignty and freedom. The Agenda was developed at a summit in Brazil in 1992 with support from President George H.W. Bush.
Don't you love the way they frame it as teaching "critical" thinking? Because offering a whacknut conspiracy theory as if it were the same as proven science translates to giving kids a good education?
This nonsense reaches all the way back to the John Birch Society, when they were convinced the Council for Foreign Relations was an evil Communist foothold in the United States. Birchers have updated their rhetoric and now stand firmly opposed to Agenda 21 because you might not be able to drive a gas-powered car or own private property (both lies).
This time around, the effort to legitimize this crackpot theory are more widespread and well-funded. Americans for Prosperity use it as a way to attack the Common Core standards in schools because they would include teaching about sustainable growth. FreedomWorks' membership and community websites are now virtually controlled by the John Birch Society with the Agenda 21 nonsense at the top of their agenda.
After electing Tea Party representatives to school boards and city councils across the nation, the move is on to push these whacko theories into the mainstream, and in the case of at least one Ohio school district, they're succeeding.