In the age of streaming TV and on-demand everything there is something that kids these days just don’t have: the beauty of Saturday morning cartoons. Kids today can pause live TV, repeat their favorite shows, and stream them whenever they want to — they don’t have to wait.
But there was something special about having to wait just a bit when I was a kid.
Nothing was more sacred than waking up on Saturday mornings, straggling down the hall in your PJs, and sitting on the floor watching Bugs Bunny, Jonny Quest, Super Friends, and Scooby-Doo—the stuff you waited for all week. And you had to work for it, moving that rabbit ear antenna around or hanging a coat hanger on the family TV—with three whole channels—to get the best signal.
In the middle of the animated reverie, there was a three-minute bonus that aired periodically: a cartoon ditty called “Schoolhouse Rock.” I thought it was cool, and I can still sing some of the catchy tunes today: “Conjunction Junction”; “My Hero, Zero”; “Elementary, My Dear”; “Lolly, Lolly, Lolly, Get Your Adverbs Here.”
Schoolhouse Rock was divided into sections, such as Grammar Rock, Multiplication Rock, and Science Rock. The one I liked best was “America Rock,” featuring my all-time favorite, “I’m Just a Bill.” It was Civics 101 for kids, teaching American independence, the U.S. Constitution, the branches of government, the electoral college, and how to vote. It was good stuff, and it worked.
Fast forward to today when a friend of mine relayed that Nickelodeon has developed a modern Schoolhouse Rock. His red flags were flying, which I get! It’s a crying shame, but in this age of wokeness, library madness, critical race theory, and SEL counseling, I’m a bit jaded myself. We must err on the side of caution as even the most innocent things are often co-opted by a progressive, activist agenda.
Investigating this new-fangled version of Schoolhouse Rock, I found that the overall title is “Well Versed,” with an initial focus on cartoon civics lessons with catchy little songs. I warily watched one, feeling like a scary old man ready to yell at those pesky kids to get off my grass.
There are a dozen “Well Versed” cartoons teaching kids about voting, how the branches of government work, why we have laws, how to resolve arguments, accepting differences, and more. First Lady Jill Biden even promoted the rollout of the “Well Versed” series.
But when I dug a little deeper things became less rosy. One of the driving forces behind the development of Nickelodeon’s “Well Versed” series is a company called iCivics.
iCivics is a 501c3 founded by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. Heavily supported by the Bill Gates Foundation and the left-leaning Silicon Valley Community Foundation, it seeks to teach and promote civics education, encouraging students to become “active citizens.”
“National Review” did a piece on iCivics in February 2021, particularly focusing on their executive director, Louise Dube, who said that iCivics is committed to “pointing out institutional systemic racism in teaching about our institutions.” “National Review” went on to say that iCivics was instrumental in developing a critical race theory-based curriculum in use in Illinois, with a stated intent to expand to other states. “[T]here is a policy window that’s open for us to do something more,” one of the promoters of the Illinois curriculum said. “We’ve made some big strides in Illinois. Now we need to do this everywhere.” The Illinois iCivics curriculum denounces “colorblindness,” calling it “an ‘erasure’ that defines students from a ‘white normative stance.’” It questions parents' skepticism, suggesting parents should find better resources to teach their kids, pointing them to the 1619 Project, a group claiming that slavery is why the U.S. exists.
The “National Review” author concludes, “iCivics is cloaking progressive political activism and Critical Race Theory under the soothing and popular heading of ‘civics.’” And this is the group that helped develop the new “Well Versed” version of “Schoolhouse Rock.”
I want so much to know that my grandkids can watch something without an agenda attached to it. Is it too much to ask for there not to be a hidden agenda from activists posing as educators?
Nickelodeon’s “Well Versed” illustrates why it is so important to have parental involvement in kids’ lives. At the very least, we must do a modicum of research, determining whether something that looks shiny and good is antithetical to our values, trying to worm its way in with an ulterior motive.
Jeremy Boreing, cofounder of the “Daily Wire,” recently spoke about creating a conservative children’s streaming service. In doing so he said: “I don’t believe that children should be cogs in our, sort of, political war machine. I believe children should be children.”
I so agree. Schoolhouse Rock was simple and straightforward, and its only agenda was to promote learning about immutable topics without agenda-driven slants. A wolf in sheep’s clothing can destroy a flock, so we must stay engaged to protect our kids.
To contact Phil or request him for a speaking engagement, go to www.rightsideradio.org. The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of 1819 News. To comment, please send an email with your name and contact information to [email protected].
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