Monday, February 22, 1999

Remember America's Motto: E Pluribus Unum

Education: End programs in public schools that promote divisiveness.


Ethnic and racial celebrations have no place in American public school, whose primary tasks should be Americanizing students and giving them a sound education.

For public high school principals who agree, here is an address for them to deliver to their students:

I am your new principal and I am honored to be so. To teach young people is the greatest calling anyone can aspire to.

I would like to apprise you that as of now, a great deal will change here. Most of the ideas that have dominated public education in America have worked against you, against your teachers and against America. First, I could not care less if your racial makeup is black, brown, red, yellow or white. I could not care less if your origins are African, Latin American, Asian, European or if your ancestors arrived on the Mayflower.

The only identity I care about is your individual identity, your character, your scholarship, your humanity. The only national identity I care about is American. This is an American public school, and American public schools were created to make better Americans.

If you wish to affirm your ethnic or racial or religious identity through school, you will have to go elsewhere--perhaps to a private school--or perhaps your parents will school you at home. I have great respect for both options, but the only national identity this school will foster is American.

Therefore we will end all ethnicity-, race- and nationality-based celebrations. They are divisive and work against the motto of America--e pluribus unum, "from many, one."

Second, I am uninterested in whether English is your native language. I am only interested that you leave this school speaking and writing English as fluently and precisely as possible. The English language unites all of our citizens, and it will unite us here. We will learn other languages at this school; it is deplorable that most Americans only speak English, but if you wish that your classes be taught in a language other than English, this is not your school.

Third, because learning is a sacred endeavor, everything in this school will reflect the elevated status that institutions of learning must receive. You and your teachers will therefore dress accordingly. You will dress as if you were attending a place of worship. Males will wear slacks and shirts. Females will wear skirts no shorter than one inch above the knee, or slacks, and shirts or blouses. No T-shirts, baggy pants, tank tops, shorts or any other clothing that would render the school indistinguishable from the street or a beach party.

Fourth, no obscene language will be tolerated anywhere on this campus, whether in class, in the hallways or at athletic events. By obscene language I mean the words banned by the Federal Communications Commission and offensive epithets even when directed in jest.

Fifth, there will be no clubs that divide students from one another based on any identities they hold. This includes race, language, religion, sexual orientation, disability or whatever else may become in vogue in our divisive society. Your clubs will be based on interests and passions, not blood ties.

Sixth, we will end all self-esteem classes. In this school, self-esteem will be attained in only one way--the way people attained it until the state of California decided otherwise some years ago--by earning it.

Finally, I am reorienting the school toward academic achievement and away from propaganda. No more time will be devoted to scaring you about smoking and caffeine or terrifying you about sexual harassment. No more semesters devoted to condom-wearing and teaching you to regard sexual relations as a health issue. No more attempts to convince you that you are victims just because you are not white, or heterosexual, or male, or Christian. In regard to drugs, we will rely on your good sense to distinguish between cough drops and heroin.

Now, please stand and join me in the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag of our country. As many of you do not know the words, your teachers will hand them out to you.

May God bless us all in our endeavors. And yes, the "G-word" is now permitted.

Dennis Prager, the Host of a Talk Show on Kabc Radio, Is the Author of "Happiness Is a Serious Problem" (Harpercollins, 1998)