Battle for the American Mind

Written by Ryan Evans on October 28th, 2022

One of the most important books you may read this year is a #1 New York Times best seller co-written by David Goodwin, president of the ACCS (Association of Classical Christian Schools). He and co-author, Pete Hegseth, present a compelling overview of the government school system in their book titled, Battle for the American Mind. Subtitled, Uprooting a Century of Miseducation, the book chronicles the downward slide of the progressive public school system. They convincingly provide data to support the shift in educational content, pedagogy, and desired outcomes. All this will leave many readers with the question, “Why haven’t I known any of this?” The governmental school system is akin to a monopoly, serving as the de facto free educational option for children. The result is a perceived obligation to all parents to enroll their children in their local public school, breeding complicity for even Christian parents. Out of convenience, nostalgia, finances, or perhaps the misguided “salt and light” argument, Christians often unwittingly send their children to be educated in a system designed to dismantle what is taught at church and in the home. We all benefit through a better understanding of how the system works, and Battle for the American Mind presents a helpful historical overview of how changes over the years have birthed a system that is opposed to nearly everything we desire to inculcate in our children. The authors make a winsome appeal to those who seek to make a difference in the schools, or for parents who desire their children to serve as evangelical witnesses in the public schools. The issue is the intertwined system itself: the college certification system, teacher certification programs, textbook manufacturers, curriculum designers, and state requirements. “Teachers were certified by the states through education colleges that were designed by progressive disciples of Dewey. Graduation requirements and diplomas were authorized by states, under progressive education departments. Textbook authors, descended from this professional class of teachers, were trained in the progressive colleges. All forms of K-12 education – Christian, public, and independent – were now effectively under the influence of the progressive model through the institutions Progressives built under state control.” Expecting a 5th grader or even a 12th grader to work toward changing this type of system may be analogous to changing the tax code in a few quick weeks. Not going to happen. They write, “A few hours a week in church – Sunday school and Wednesday nights – don’t stand a chance against more than forty hours a week in progressive schools.” Consider the time spent in schools vis-à-vis the goals we have in training our children to think and act biblically. “The battlefield for the hearts and minds of our kids is the 16,000 hours they spend inside American classrooms from kindergarten to twelfth grade…. It’s the 16,000-hour war, for our kids and our country.” Hegseth and Goodwin present a wake-up call for Christians, particularly those who still view public education as a viable option for their children. Appropriately polemical, the book articulates the many ways the Progressives have removed not just the “Judeo-Christian worldview,” but more specifically Christ and the Bible from its teaching. The idea of “Western Christian Paidiea” (e.g. classical and Christian education) has been neutered, replaced by goals in line with a liberal agenda.  Battle for the American Mind will shake up your views of education, and perhaps even radically reshape your paradigm and understanding of education.