Does politically-correct curriculum foster cultural illiteracy?

By Tom Quiner

“Have you ever heard of Pope John Paul II?”

This was the question I asked of a small gathering of college-aged students last week. I was giving a presentation on my musical, The Pope of the People, the John Paul II musical.

None of the students had ever heard of JPII.

Keep in mind, he only died seven years ago.

Keep in mind that he was the equivalent of a ruler of a sovereign country whose “citizens” would make it the largest country in the world (the Catholic Church).

Keep in mind that he was a man of historic importance who shaped the history of the world in the last decades of the twentieth century, most notably in his involvement in the fall of communism. He wasn’t just the Pope of the Catholic Church, he was a citizen of the world and visited 117 nations during his papacy.

He was considered the Pope of the People. Even non-Catholics looked to him as a moral leader.

In this era of politically-correct curriculum dictated by the teacher’s union, are they leaving out reference to the man of the century?

Is the mistaken notion of “separation of church and state” simply an excuse to delete an historic figure from the history books because he is also a religious figure?

Perhaps I am mistaken. I would like to hear from teachers and students and tell me that I am wrong.

Tell me that the late John Paul the Great is a part of our schools’ curriculum.

His omission would would be a blow to the cultural literacy of our nation, even if you’re not a Catholic.


  1. Monte B. Gray on March 13, 2012 at 9:07 am

    This does not surprise me! History has never been a popular part of kids curriculum! Even present day politicians mess things up in regards to history. Did’nt Sarah Pailin have a recent mess up in regards to the story behind Paul Revere and his midnight ride? So don’t take our teachers to task. Better to ask parents why they are’nt talking to their kids about history instead of about sports!

    • quinersdiner on March 13, 2012 at 9:18 am

      I did not take teachers to task. Read my previous post. My concern is that politically-correct curriculum is being imposed on teachers which sanitizes text books of critical topics, such as JPII. I don’t know that I want to blame this on the parents, either, as you do. Interestingly, though, parents who home-school are achieving much higher results than those who send their kids to public schools. Perhaps we’ll look at the topic in the future. In the meantime, great to hear from you and get your slant on the issues.

  2. Embattled Farmers on March 13, 2012 at 1:09 pm

    I don’t think it’s a political correctness or separation of church or state problem so much as a lowering of educational standards in general. When I went to school, we studied “meat and potatoes.” Now they want to make it fun and “relevant,” so children don’t read great books any more, they read lighter stuff that’s easier to get through and understand. I spent a fortune sending my son to private schools, and I came out of public high school school knowing much more than he did about history and literature, including six years of Latin. I had an excellent classical education that children aren’t getting anymore. It’s very sad and very scary for the future of our country.

    • quinersdiner on March 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm

      I think you are correct, although I think the decline in curriculum has a number of factors. Thanks for weighing in on the subject.

  3. Bob on March 13, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    This is one of the many reasons my kids don’t go to school. The public schools were nothing to brag about when I was a student, back in the 60s and 70s, and they haven’t gotten any better in the decades since.

    p.s. We’re not Catholic, but if you asked my teenager who John Paul II was, she could tell you. 🙂

    • quinersdiner on March 13, 2012 at 8:34 pm

      Glad to hear it! Thanks for writing.

  4. irishsignora on March 13, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    Mr. Quiner, this is part of the reason I retired from teaching in the public school system to homeschool our children. The curricula are appallingly lacking with respect to great books and great men.

    • quinersdiner on March 13, 2012 at 9:03 pm

      The home schoolers around here are some of the best parents and kids you’d ever want to meet. I am very impressed.